The world’s oldest yoga instructor – according to the Guinness Book of World Records – Tao Porchon-Lynch, turned 95 years old on August 15th, 2013. Tao has practiced yoga for over 70 years, and has been trained by some of the world’s best yoga instructors. Could it be said that perhaps yoga, not only keeps our bodies youthful and vibrant, but might also possibly lengthen our lifespan?
It has recently been suggested that in areas with tremendous yogic influence – in some parts of India for example – that the lifespan is in actuality much longer than that of United States citizens, despite little or no affordable healthcare for the average person. It seems that the main reason may be because citizens in the U.S. have more resources available to them in which to promote poor health, and little motivation to develop healthier ways of living. This is one of the main reasons why our nation has the highest rate of obesity in the world.
In places where there is little health care provision people are forced to turn to alternative ways, yoga for instance, to keep their bodies healthy and their minds in top-notch shape. Yoga is a great way to keep your body and mind in perfect harmony; it is proven to heal in numerous health-related situations, from back pain to stress relief. It relieves tension in the body, and restores the mind through the meditative elements. The ancient tradition is known to have healed numerous different health conditions, including but certainly not limited to; respiration problems, such as asthma, depression, arthritis, high blood pressure, weight issues, osteoporosis, back, spinal and muscle pain, heart conditions, and even cancer. The health benefits of yogic practice are astounding.
Yoga has been shown to reverse the aging process by the positive impact the practice has upon the body. It gives elasticity to your muscles, tones tendons and ligaments, reduces fat and slows weight gain, calms your heart rate, and eases your mind promoting a bodily as well as a spiritual peace. Improved posture is also an important aspect of yoga. Bad posture is something that an aging body will most likely suffer from at some point. Yoga additionally strengthens ones back and shoulders and also promotes a strong sense of balance, all of which are important keys in unlocking the door to the world of anti-aging.
In a recent study out of India, 104 people practiced yoga over the duration of 10 days, and the results showed that stress levels decreased by 9%. German research offered similar results in the study of 24 women, where yoga practice significantly reduced stress by 1/3. What does all this mean? On a superficial level, less stress equals less wrinkles. When a face is calm and relaxed, wrinkles around the face, mouth and eyes begin to sooth away. Yoga also reduces oxidative stress, which breaks down elasticity in the skin. The practice of yoga adds years to the health of you skin, giving you a natural glow and a greater reduction in facial lines.
Yoga also plays a profound role in terms of mental health. Jefferson Medical College researchers recently conducted tests on on yoga class and the effects in terms of the brain. The study confirmed that yogic practice actually plays an important role in the balance of the stress hormone cortisol in the brain. Elevated cortisol levels may actually contribute to memory related issues such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, yoga keeps them maintained.
As we grow older the amount of melatonin (a chemical released from our brains to our bodies that tells us when to sleep) that is released into our bodies begins to decrease. However, yet another study from India, found that in 15 men, between the ages of 25-35, that were practicing yoga on a daily basis for a duration of 3 months, actually had increased levels of melatonin.
Some of the best yoga poses to begin to incorporate into your yoga practice to reap the benefits of anti-aging are, Moving Meditation, Warrior II to Side Angle, Tree Pose, Sphinx to Child’s Pose, Seated Twist, Inverted L Pose (using 1-2 pillows and a wall), and finally Reclining Angle (using a mat, and 1-2 pillows).
The benefits of yoga practice are astounding, and the numbers most certainly speak for themselves. This magnificent ancient practice has changed people’s lives for the better. Yoga has healed the sick, and it has helped make aging something that people no longer dread. Through yoga, people are encouraged to go into their latter years in a state of wellness, health, and joy.