Yoga poses like the downward dog, inversions, and eagle arms are a struggle for many of us but not for the yoga teacher who’s 101-years-old.
Tao Porchon-Lynch is the world’s oldest yoga instructor and shows no sign of slowing down as she embraces her second century with the same can-do attitude that has shaped her life.
She says the secret to longevity is to live every day full of the “joy of life”… and she has no plans to stop teaching yoga!! What an inspiration.
Yoga has many benefits for all of us, no matter what our age and stage but, what I love about it is that it’s accessible to us, even as we grow older. When I was asked to teach a module on a yoga teaching course, themed Yoga through the aging process, I started to research this in more depth. And, I was astonished by what I found. So, if like me, you’re planning on continuing your yoga journey well into your golden years, here’s some inspiration to keep you going.
1.Yoga Increases Anti-Aging Hormones in the Brain
In yoga, we have a wide range of asanas, or postures. to choose from. One of the most important postures, in my opinion, is mediation.
A recent study from the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine revealed that, “Regular deep meditation dramatically affects production of three important hormones related to increased longevity, stress, and enhanced well-being: cortisol, DHEA, and melatonin.”
DHEA is known as the “anti-aging hormone.” As we get older our body produces less of it, but when we practice yoga and meditation, we become our own fountain of youth! We naturally provide our bodies with this hormone as well as buffering our bodies from cortisol, the stress hormone.
Melatonin is the hormone that helps us get quality sleep. Increased melatonin due to meditation leads to increased well-being during the day and tranquil sleep at night!
2. Yoga Helps Us Cultivate a More Flexible, Limber Body
One of the more obvious benefits of yoga is a more flexible and limber body. As we get older, our bodies can stiffen, which begins a negative domino effect where we inevitably suffer the consequences of aches, pains, injury, fatigue, and more.
According to research, “At least half of the age-related changes to muscles, bones and joints are caused by disuse.”
If we begin this negative domino effect caused by disuse, we could worsen our posture and send undesired weight into our joints. But we can avoid all of this with a consistent yoga practice. Our practice allows the body to move, stretch, and lengthen out the spine, which results in a younger, more flexible and limber body.
Yoga, the union of mind and body, has many obvious benefits. Today, let’s talk about one of the more subtle, but extremely desirable, benefits of a consistent yoga practice. Yep! We’re talking about how yoga can help prevent, and even reverse, aging.
In life we can often feel as though time is slipping away from us, that there aren’t enough hours in the day, or that we’re constantly trying to “catch up.”
However, when we practice yoga, we reinforce principles and practices that can help us reverse the clock not only physically, but mentally as well.
3. YOGA ENCOURAGES RETENTION OF MUSCLE MASS
Muscle mass is lost naturally during the aging process. But with a consistent yoga practice, we can also achieve anti-aging benefits by encouraging the body to retain this muscle mass.
A well-named study, NAMASTE (Novel Approaches to Maintaining Muscle Mass and Strength), conducted a study using two groups of people.
The first group hadn’t exercised in at least a year, and the other group was comprised of yogis that practiced at least twice a week for over a year. The study revealed that, “The yogis had lower rates of protein synthesis and breakdown, which translates into more efficient muscle mass maintenance.”
4. Light Mind
As yogis, we learn to combine mindfulness and awareness in our everyday lives. As we travel through life, stress naturally pops up and, sometimes, we need a certain amount of stress to propel us forward into action. Other times, stress can become negative and unhealthy, leaving our body on the receiving end of that negativity.
As one WebMD article on Health notes, “Stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between challenges. Distress can lead to physical problems including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain and trouble sleeping.”
All of these distress symptoms could lead to serious health problems that could be potentially fatal if not treated. We use yoga to treat our distress symptoms by learning how to relax amidst challenge. This anti-aging practice allows our minds to return to being light and free, something that can now be achieved at any age.
5. Yoga Heals Your Past
One of my favorite benefits of yoga is how it can heal the past. A lot of times, past problems and what we view as failures can rob us of the present moment as well as future opportunities.
I heard someone recently say that, “Your past lessons are not your life sentences.” When we unify our mind and body through yoga, we know this to be true. Yoga reverses the aging clock by healing the past. We acknowledge it’s over with, and how it has helped us get to the present moment while allowing us to see the truth in the Now.
As Eckhart Tolle quotes, “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.” Through yoga and meditation, we realize this to be true as we bring youth and vitality to our lives.