The Anti-Aging Powers Of Yoga & Breathwork
While many of us wish we could slow the hands of time, we must still face the fact that it is impossible to stop the aging process completely. We do possess the tools however, to slow down the physical and mental aspects of growing older.
With yoga, meditation and breathwork, we calm the nervous system, reduce stress levels significantly and yes, reverse that pesky pull of gravity!
Any yoga inversion that brings the head below the heart and reverses the pull of gravity on the body is also great for your health. From headstand to shoulder stand, standing forward fold and even wheel, turning your body upside-down is a great way to help reverse the blood flow and rejuvenate the body as it ages.
Inversions can reduce stress and anxiety, and positively impact the cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous and endocrine systems. As blood flows more easily to the brain, anything from healthier lung tissue to reduced stress on the heart, is possible. Not to mention, the many health benefits of a regular yoga practice is now widely known and even scientifically proven.
While physical yoga postures can slow the process of the physical body aging, meditation can help slow the aging process in the brain. People who regularly practice meditation tend to have more blood flow to the brain, which improves functions such as memory and attention.
Meditation also helps decrease the production of stress hormones. A daily meditation practice can be as simple a expressing gratitude before getting out of bed each morning. You could focus on people, places and things you are grateful for, and allow them into your brain as you focus on your breath, rather than starting off your morning checking your email and going over your to-do list.
Of course there's also a seated meditation if you've got a few moments to spare — you can sit with yourself in total stillness as an observer of your thoughts. Even if you're short on time, it can only take a minute!
A deep, slow breathing practice (paired with both yoga and meditation or even done on its own), has powerful anti-aging properties as well. You might be familiar with pranayama (the yogic science of breath) and alternate nostril or Ujjayi breathing exercises from yoga class, where your awareness is tuned into your breath to help calm your mind and invigorate your practice. Focused breathing can help slow down and regulate the heart rate, calm the nervous system and even oxygenate your cells.
Practice taking slow, deep breaths anywhere — in the car, at the office, or while waiting in line at the store. As you breathe, let the inhale fill from deep inside of your belly and as you exhale, gently push it all the way out. Notice the difference after several focused breaths.
So while you can't stop the passage of time, you can use any combination of these tools to slow the aging process indefinitely, creating an all-around happier, healthier YOU.