How Yoga Can Help The Aging Process

By Samara Manges

aging and yoga - yoga loft cabarete

We all want that perfect complexion. Smooth skin, no wrinkles and  just the right amount of sun kissed glow. We want to be able to roll out of bed and not groan as we step across the floor. Even better we’d all like the curves and muscles to stay put and not start to move south.

However the reality is that as we age, things change. Our skin becomes a little less smooth and a little too sun kissed. The groans get louder when it rains. And let’s face it, things on the body start to move south a lot sooner than one thinks. These changes are all part of the beautiful process of aging. We shouldn’t look at them with contempt or disdain but that being said we can try to slow the process down. There are so many benefits to doing yoga and without even realizing it you are keeping the body youthful and engaging in preventative aging.

B.K.S. Iyengar, the founder of Iyengar yoga, was practicing three hours of asana a day well into his 90’s. While this may be just a pipe dream for most of us, we can still use the underlying principles for our own practice to slow down the aging process. There are several key physiological benefits that yoga gives us in trying to defy time. I’ll go into several of those concepts here but just remember there are so many dimensions to the benefits of yoga that this little blog post won’t be able to cover.

Bone health

Improving bone density is astronomically important in terms of the aging process. Osteoporosis, and falls in general, is a big concern for those aging as well as those in the medical field. As we age our bone density decreases and we lose important skeletal muscle that supports the body. Weight bearing postures like Warrior I,II and III, side angle pose all keep these support muscles strong and agile. While the increase in bone density is minimal, your balance and body awareness increase drastically which also helps with fall prevention.

Blood pressure

Blood pressure irregularities or hypertension is another common ailment that comes with aging. One in three Americans have hypertension. This is usually combated with pharmaceuticals but the fluid movements of yoga can help the body learn how to better regulate blood pressure. There are little sensors placed all throughout the body that are constantly monitoring internal blood pressure. Just like anything with more practice these sensors can get better at their job and can regulate blood pressure faster and more efficiently. That being said if you have a serious medical condition please consult a doctor before flipping into a 5 minute headstand.

Sleep irregularities

Insomnia, or general sleep disturbances can also become part of our lives at any age. A big part of yoga is re-learning or deepening the understanding of our breath. Learning to breathe meaningfully with intent can foster relaxation and help you sleep better. If you also have a physical practice, a nice slow and restorative class in the evening can encourage drowsiness and promote exhaustion.

Skin care

Now let’s talk about complexion. I once had a yoga teacher tell me that I would save hundreds of dollars on skin care products…if I did shoulder stand everyday. I still probably spend way too much money on skin care products—they just smell so good!—but I don’t think he was wrong about yoga helping out with a healthy glow. Any inversion posture will increase blood flow and aid in the cell renewal process. Yoga also helps lower stress and anxiety, which any college student about to take their midterms will tell you, does not promote unblemished skin.

I try to stay away from the term anti-aging because there is no point in trying to avoid the unavoidable. It will happen to us all eventually but we can choose to be more proactive in the process. Choosing a healthier and happier lifestyle will make the aging process more manageable and graceful, and yoga is a great addition to any happy and healthy lifestyle.

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