If you didn’t know, how old would you say you are?
I think I would be around 30-35,,, And I was born 56 years ago!
I don’t buy into the whole idea of “aging”. That’s probably because I’ve been practicing yoga for over 25 years, and I keep changing my body physically younger and my mind easier and calmer. I feel like I’ve turned back the clock to my physical appearance and attitude.
And I owe that to self-care = YOGA!
Don’t be fooled! Yoga is not just for the physical youthful look, it’s also for the abundance of self-knowledge. There is a high spiritual component to Yoga, that starts to saturate your being without you even knowing it. The practice is a process of peeling back layers of stress. The breathing, the movement, the quieting of the mind; all of these aspects of Yoga bring a clear, nurturing quality to your everyday life. You cannot hide or be fake when you practice, all things are privately exposed to you. In this way, we move on from the past, deal with it, and move on to a more satisfying present moment, that is pure to the core.
So, what is your Yoga Age? Instead of your birth age rising, think of your physical, spiritual age lowering. People will start asking you, “What are you doing, you look so good”, “You seem more calm, less stressed”.
Here are the 5 top Hacks to a younger Yoga Age:
Stretching is the fastest, most poignant way to achieve a younger appearance. Gaining flexibility through stretches on your yoga mat is more than physical. This practice increases the vital energy of prana in your body, which helps remove energy blockages. Once you start stretching and breathing at the same time, remarkable sensations start to happen. Your backaches start to go away, your tight hamstrings aren’t so tight, your tight shoulders start to melt, your hips are open enough that sitting cross-legged on the floor is easy, pains start to vanish, wrinkles start to soften, eyes are brighter….. AND, the biggest benefit of stretching is the breathing. This combination of movement and breath is the most powerful ancient yogic secret. Through the guidance of breath and stretch, the mind becomes softer, more humble, very private, very honest. Most yogis will tell you how a simple breath at a certain moment in a deep stretch, completely changed their life. Yoga works on a deep, invisible cellular level, that still can’t be proved today. By experiencing it, you receive it. It is an altering experience, that is unexplainable.
2. Sun Salutes – Surya Namaskar
Almost all yoga styles have their version of a Sun Salute. They are all very similar, with certain embellishments. Sun Salutes can be both a cardiovascular exercise, a stretch, and a gesture of gratitude; benefiting the whole body. Surya Namaskar, the Sanskrit name, translates as, Surya meaning Sun, Namaskar, to bow down. We are bowing down, in humbleness to the sun; the life or energy source for this planet and is an element in everything we eat, drink or breathe. When we start to become more in tune with the cycles of the sun, physical health, well being, vitality, and energy, are abundant. When practicing daily sun salutes, we not only tune into this mindset, we also get enormous physical benefits from the flowy movement. There are always deep stretches involved in any simple sun salute from hamstrings to upper body to low and mid back, to shoulder girdle to wrists and ankles. Sun Salutes are usually done at the beginning of the practice, several times in a row, to focus the mind, warm up the body and to coordinate breath with movement. It is a powerful moment to have a class full of practitioners practicing sun salutes all together, breathing and in sync together. It is like swimming on land.
3. Yogic Diet
A yogis diet is a Sattvic Diet-the purest diet that nourishes the body and maintains a peaceful state. A Sattvic diet will ultimately lead to true health; a peaceful mind in control of a fit body, with a balanced flow of energy between them. If you remember that anything grown from the sun is included in a Sattvic Diet, it’s easy!
A few items included in a Yogis Diet is fresh fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, sprouted seeds, legumes. Some yogis opt to eat dairy, while I personally refrain from dairy because of the unknown hormones and additives. I prefer my homemade nut mylks, and cheese alternatives. When it comes to protein, I think of the elephant; a complete vegetarian, with pure strength!
Can we talk protein for a minute? Animal protein contains too much uric acid and other toxins to be broken down by the liver; some are eliminated, but the rest are deposited in the joints and tissues, leading to problems such as arthritis, stiffness and cancer. Uric acid is a toxin that also makes it harder to reach the higher, clear meditative state because it is an irritant in the bloodstream. Which negates the whole purpose of our yoga practice. Most yogis also avoid caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and artificial sweeteners. These stimulants and chemicals, make it more difficult to focus the mind. Eating a clean, pure diet resonates more and more, as we consistently practice yoga for better health from the inside out.
Meditation is more than the traditional picture of a monk sitting in full lotus pose in an orange robe. Meditation is a training in awareness and getting a healthy sense and perspective on your thoughts, without judging. Yoga is a meditative practice through stillness and movement. There is a definitely a meditative quality and focus to practicing yoga. Meditation and Yoga blur together as a spiritual practice. Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh, is a global spiritual teacher that promotes walking meditation. Walking meditation is a simple and universal practice for developing calm, connectedness awareness. The art of walking meditation is to learn to be aware as you walk, to use the natural movement of walking to cultivate mindfulness. Through meditation your face softens, your wrinkles lighten, and your eyes are clearer and there is a sweetness to your face.
This article shows the difference in peoples faces after 30 consecutive days of meditation; it’s unbelievable.
If you practice yoga once a week, you get once a week results. One of the misunderstandings about a yoga practice is that you have to practice 5-6 times a week, an hour to an hour and a half each time. Not true! If it’s more doable for you to practice 15-20 minutes 3-4 times a week, do it! It’s so much better than skipping completely. Consistency means to be regular. You will reap the amazing benefits of yoga, if you just do it! Alternate days between stretching, sun salutes, some days are combo days, some days can be longer, if you have more time. We know how good we feel after practice in our head and in our body. To stay on track, commit to the same start time everyday. You have a better chance of showing up for yourself. Yoga is a personal practice, for you to gain everything from self-knowledge, to strength to flexibility. It isn’t a chore, it’s part of a journey to taking care of yourself.
Let’s take the journey together and turn back the clock both physically and mentally!
Have a beautiful day!