Ageing with grace: How yoga can help you stay in good condition

Emma Lawrence of The Yoga Tree explains how the practice of yoga can keep you feeling supple and confident - whatever the years might throw at you.

Ageing is inevitable. It happens to us all. It is a process that affects you whatever your background, wealth or health.

When anything happens in life - any happy, sad or stressful event - we get to determine how we handle it. And it’s the same for the ageing process. It is very easy to see the losses.

For some, filling in the wrinkles, plumping the sunken areas and removing unwanted sections are the answer. For others, the added years prove to be an irritant, and something which is constantly fought against.  Some choose to let it happen and embrace it.

But one thing is certain: the process will happen and - despite how you choose to handle the external changes - it is important to help along your mind, energy levels and organs.

So - how can yoga help? Yoga slows the ageing process by gradually improving key factors in your physical and mental health. Here are several reasons why you should consider not only practising yoga now, but also continuing your practice as you age, for optimal health.

Balance

Balance is a component of many yoga poses. The ability to balance involves both body and brain. And when we don’t put our bodies and our brains through their paces, our faculties begin to diminish.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons estimates 1 out of every 2 women and 1 out of every 4 men over 50 will suffer a fracture related to a fall. The balancing poses we practise in yoga help us to sync communication between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, improving our agility.

Flexibility

For most people, increased aches, pains and stiffness come with age. Unfortunately, some people think yoga is only for the flexible - but they couldn't be more wrong! Yoga creates flexibility.

In yoga lies the path to greater comfort in your body as you age. Spinal flexibility is not just about comfort - if unused, spines will shorten and round. Creating space between the vertebrae with regular yoga practice helps lengthen the spine, improving nerve conduction to all the organs.

Strength

Yoga builds strength, slowly and safely. Strong muscles increase our protection from the conditions of ageing and increase bone density. Weight-bearing poses dramatically reduce the chance of fractures as you age.

Yoga provides a safer option then other high impact or high intensity exercises that stress your cartilage and joints.

Breathing

Yoga increases our lung capacity. Improving our ability to take in more air increases energy to all of our cells and helps us ‘get up and go’ as we age.

Another advantage of proper breathing is lower blood pressure. In a recent study at the University of Pennsylvania, a team of researchers evaluated the effects yoga had on blood pressure.

The team found that patients, who did yoga in a studio 2 to 3 times per week for 24 weeks, experienced a statistically significant drop in their blood pressure, greater than the diet-only group.

Breathing also improves digestion. Learning to take a full breath gives the digestive organs an encouraging massage. Poor digestion is one of the main reasons people visit their doctor. Bad digestion may not kill you, but it can make you miserable.

Whether you can, wish you could, or are ready to give it a go, visit www.the-yoga-tree.com for more information.