The human body is capable of achieving the most difficult feats but when the same body starts giving you trouble, it can become a hurdle in doing the simplest of activities. In the early decades of your life, you’re mostly busy building your career and raising a family without paying much heed to your body.
However, as you age, you realize you haven’t done enough to take care of your body so that it can withstand the inevitable process of aging. No matter the age, you can start reaping the benefits of yoga within a few months of regular practice. Yoga can help align your mind and body so that you always stay in the pink of health. Here are 5 ways in which how yoga can ease your transition into aging.
1. Builds Strength
Yoga is a great way to build strength slowly without risking injury. Your strength comes from your muscles and as you age, muscle mass tends to decrease for both men and women. Even physically inactive people can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after the age of thirty. When you do weight-bearing poses like downward dog or plank, you slowly build strength without putting too much pressure on your bones. This makes yoga a safer option than high-intensity exercises.
2. Increases Flexibility
When most people think of yoga, they look at the pretzel-like poses and write it off as something that only people who are already fit can do. Unfortunately, this perception is just not true. What you see on the internet and social media are people who have been practicing for years and might have been just as inflexible as you are when they started. Practicing yoga is what makes you flexible and not the other way round. With aging, your body becomes stiffer and there is a general increase in aches and pains. Yoga practice works not only on the muscles but also on ligaments and tendons keeping them lubricated and elastic.
3. Regulates Breathing
If you’re not breathing right when doing yoga, you’re not doing yoga right. Every pose in yoga comes with breathing instructions because yoga recognizes that your breath is connected to your life force. Along with using your body to channel your energies, yoga also ensures that you use breath to regulate each movement and transition. Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have found that regular practice of yoga also lowers blood pressure. Breathing properly also has other benefits like aiding digestion and reducing stress.
4. Increases Awareness
Aging can be a difficult process. As you grow older, the activities you were able to do in a snap will take considerable time and effort. Your body starts to come in the way of your life and this can bog you down. However, when you start practicing yoga, you also work towards increasing your awareness. Part of learning yoga includes becoming aware of your body and listening to what it wants and needs. This awareness helps you understand your body better and filter out things that don’t work for you while sticking to things that do.
5. Brings Balance To Your Life
One of the main goals of yoga is to bring a certain sense of balance between your body, mind, emotions, and energies. As you age, your body and mind begin to lose their ability to work together. You may feel like taking a long walk but your legs just won’t be up for it or just reading for too long might tire you more than you realize. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 1 out of every 2 women and 1 out of every 4 men over 50 will suffer a fracture related to a fall. However, practicing yoga poses builds strength and brings balance so that you’re always in control.
If you’re someone who’s just starting or is thinking about starting your yoga practice, know that flexibility comes with time and regular practice. Your yoga teacher will give you alternatives if you cannot fully bend or turn your body. Over time, you will slowly be able to not only do the pose but also comfortably hold the pose with complete awareness. So take up yoga with an open mind and take it one session at a time.