On New Year’s Eve, as I counted down at midnight, I had to chuckle to myself thinking that in addition to saying goodbye to 2012, I was also saying goodbye to my forties. 

As I usher in 2013, I’m not afraid to admit (and am also pretty damn excited about) saying hello to my fifties! 

I plan on celebrating all year and want to spread the news that I’ve discovered my own perfect age-defying beauty elixir. In fact, I ingest a big ole dose of it each and every time I step onto my yoga mat.  

Yes, I’m here to tell you that yoga is keeping me young, exuberant, and full of life.

But don’t just listen to me. Here’s a quote from Tari Prinster, a yoga teacher and cancer survivor from New York City who began her practice at age 50:

“What yoga has done for me is slow down the aging process. Maybe it’s one of the secrets of yoga – it is really the fountain of youth.” 

Those of you under thirty (if you’re still reading!) are probably ready to click to the next article, but before you do, stop and remember that thing called gravity. The wrinkles, gray hair, and sagging ass will eventually find you too, so don’t fight them. Learn to embrace this aging thing now with the help of the ultimate fountain of youth – yoga!

In the practice of yoga, there is a focus on standing up tall and breathing. When we elongate the spine and breathe deeply, it opens up the lungs and increases the ability for oxygen to get to the cells that feed our bodies. When the cells lack oxygen (due to things like inactivity and slouching), they slowly begin to die, and that is what causes the aging process. 

Practicing yoga brings suppleness to the muscles, increases flexibility in the spine, gets rid of stress and tension in the body, firms up your skin, corrects poor posture, and aids in improving balance. Now that, my yogi friends, is one hell of a laundry list of benefits!

When I first started practicing yoga, I caught onto this secret pretty quick, and I’ve been drinking the yoga fountain of youth through a fire hose ever since. I’ve seen friends and family go through knee surgery, back surgery, and shoulder surgery, which is more than enough to light a fire under my ass to keep up a solid yoga practice. No hip replacements for me; I’m planning on having happy hips well into my eighties and beyond. 

If you think at any age that you are too old for yoga, it’s time to forget that excuse. Tao Porchon Lynch, a personal role model of mine, is 94 years young and still a master yoga teacher. She has practiced yoga for over 70 years, taught yoga for more than 45 years, and is the Guinness Book of World Records holder for the oldest yoga teacher! 

Not one to sit still, in addition to leading a 200-hour yoga teacher training this January, she is also pursuing her latest passion of ballroom dancing (tango in particular) and is an award-winning world-class dancer. 

“When I wake up in the morning, I know it’s going to be the best day of my life. I never think about what I can’t do.” –Tao Porchon Lynch

I think one of the best reasons why yoga helps slow down the aging process is simply in the way it can make you feel good about yourself. When you can move more easily, get out of bed without aches and pains, and start to feel your body become more flexible each and every time you go to the yoga mat, that feeling — that yoga high, as I like to call it — is more effective than any of those high-priced skin creams. 

“Some people come just for the psychological space, to be softer and more connected to themselves in a less busy and non-striving way. All of those are wonderful motivations to practice, and what can surface out of the repetition of doing this simple activity is that our overall health becomes of a higher quality, and I literally think that the aging process can become one of gracious acceptance.” –Sarah Powers, Insight Yoga Institute 

I’m pushing fifty and don’t give a damn ‘cause this yoga stuff has my body and my mind feeling mighty fine. I’ll be busy for the next fifty years or so, yoga mat in hand, graciously accepting the aging process and fighting off the dreaded turkey neck with the revolutionary age-defying tonic called yoga. 

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