A common saying in yoga is, you’re as young as your spine. It’s not the number of years that determines your age, but the flexibility, strength and mobility of your spine that determines a person’s age. Yoga lets you trade in characteristics of old age for characteristics of youth. Physically, a regular practice slows down the aging process by giving elasticity to the spine, firming up the skin, removing tension from the body, strengthening the core, improving the tone of flabby arm muscles, correcting poor posture, and preventing dowager’s hump.
The mental benefits of a yoga lifestyle are even more profound. Through a disciplined practice there is a heightened mental prowess and an increase in focus and concentration.
In his book, Reversing Aging, Dr. Paul Galbraith wrote about the power of yoga and it’s many benefits of living with greater vitality and joy. The following are a few of the anti-aging benefits of a consistent yoga practice.
Live longer. Yoga affects all the important determinants of a long life: the brain, glands, spine and internal organs.
Increased resistance to disease. Yoga produces a healthy strong body with increased immunity against disease. This increased resistance extends from the common cold to serious diseases like cancer.
Increased vitality due to yoga’s effect on the brain and glands.
Rejuvenation of the glands. Yoga has a marked effect on the pituitary, thyroid, adrenal and sex glands. This produces a feeling of well-being, prevents premature aging and extends sexual virility well into old age.
Look and feel younger. Yoga reduces facial wrinkles and produces a natural ‘face-lift’. This is mainly due to the inverted postures. By doing the inverted postures for a few minutes each day, we reverse the effect of gravity and use it to our advantage. The result is firmer facial muscles, which cause a reduction in wrinkles, and a natural face-lift.
Vision and hearing improve. Normal vision and hearing depend to a large extent on the eyes and ears receiving a good nerve and blood supply. The nerves and blood vessels which supply the eyes and ears have to pass through the neck. As we get older, the neck becomes less flexible, like the rest of the spine, and there is a tendency for nerves and blood vessels to be encroached upon as they travel through the neck. This impairs the nerve and blood supply to the eyes and ears, affecting their function. Yoga postures and yoga neck exercises improve the condition of the neck, resulting in better eyesight and improved hearing.
Because of yoga’s rejuvenation effects on the glands and nervous system, including the brain, yoga results in a positive mental/emotional state. It will help you to feel more confident, enthusiastic and generally optimistic. You will also become more creative in your everyday life. As you start to feel and look better and unfold more of your full potential, these positive mental and emotional states occur as a consequence. Within a few weeks you will feel calmer and have better concentration. Within a few months, rejuvenation of the organs will start to occur.
All these benefits won’t happen overnight, but as you continue to practice, you will build a strong foundation to age with greater health, joy and vitality.