IT IS NOT A LIE – Yoga helps to delay the AGING PROCESS

Our bodies are like clocks and one day we are going to stop ticking. Everything in our body is constantly aging but why does this happen and how can we slow down the process?

What does aging mean? For some, it means growing up, while for others, it’s growing old. Yet finding a strict scientific definition of aging is a challenge. What we can say is that aging occurs when intrinsic processes and interactions with environment, like sunlight, and toxins in the air, water, and our diets, cause changes in the structure and function of the body’s molecules and cells. Those changes in turn drive their decline, and subsequently, the failure of the whole organism.

We cannot stop aging process, as human bodies aren’t build for extreme aging. Our capacity is set at about 90 years. But with yoga practice, it is helpful to delay human aging process. The study published by the US National Library of Medicine shows that yoga combined with meditation, helps to delay the aging process and prevent the onset of many different diseases. After 12 weeks of YMLI (Yoga and Meditation Based Lifestyle Intervention), there was significant improvement in both cardinal and metabotropic biomarkers of cellular aging compared to the baseline values.

I think Yoga is helpful in delaying aging process in the below ways:

  1. People who practice yoga eat more mindfully, Yogis believe vegetable and fresh food have more energy (prana) than the stale food or meat. It helps with the digestion system, stimulate the cleansing process to detox.
  2. Yoga Asanas improve the body flexibility. Many asana poses help requires the body to twist or to stretch. It significantly increase the flexibility with practice. Flexibility will reduce your change of getting injured physically as it increases the muscle balances. My grandma is 70 years old, and she often walks very fast. Hence she fell and hurt her knees a few times during winter times, it was like once a year. But surprisingly she did not hurt her bones, considering fall down is very dangerous for people at her age. My family believe it is because my grandma always do some kind of stretches regularly. It helps to withstand more physical stress when she walks or fall down.
  3. Yoga Pranayama and Meditation helps people to maintain a positive state of mind. People look younger when they are in good mood. That is why sometimes we will be surprised by how young a people looks for his/her age and vise versa. In Yoga, we believe Pranayama and Meditation help people to clean the energy channels to make sure the chakra is not blocked. In another word, it helps people to clean their thoughts and mind so that they get more energy to deal with different challenges in daily life and still keep a positive mind.

Never give up on Yoga!!

Pranayama – What is it and How does it work?

We all know that Pranayama is a breathing practice and it has various benefits like increase energy, decrease stress, improve mental clarity and improve physical health. It is also identified as the fastest way to make you calm down.

But how does it work? We need to understand what prana is first.

Prana is the universal life force, which is the energy that distinguishes the living from the dead. It is the energy (chi) that going through our body via the energy channels (Nadis) and stored in our energy centers (chakras). Hence, prana is very important to the living body.

Surprisingly, there are different sources to get prana.

  1. Food – We can increase the prana intake from the Vegetables and fresh food. As mentioned earlier, prana only exists in the livings. Therefore, there is less or nearly no prana from the stale food and meat.
  2. Sleep – We always feel tired before sleeping and more energetic after waking up. Sleeping help us to increase the prana in our bodies.
  3. State of mind – When you feel tired you normally has no energy to do anything, but you are more energetic when you are in a good, bright or positive state of mind
  4. Breath – It is the most direct and instant source for us to get prana.

Breathing is the most direct and instant way to increase the prana in our bodies, but it is not just breath control. It is more about how we focusing on the breath, regulating the breath to increase the prana.

Since ancient times, Yogis already knew the power of prana and have been constantly developing breathing techniques to increase and maintain the prana, which is Pranayama.

Yogis believe there is a link between our emotions and breath. For every emotion, there’s a particular rhythm in the breath. For example, when you are calm and relaxed your breath is nice and easy and long but when you are angry, your breath is normally short and shallow. Because we cannot control our emotions directly, what we are doing through pranayama is we are controlling our breath and that is going to control our emotions.

So what are the benefits of pranayama?

  1. Calm mind
  2. Reduces worries and anxiety
  3. Improves focus and attention
  4. Boosts immune system
  5. Energizes body and mind
  6. Slow down the aging process

These are the general benefits of pranayamas, and there are other specific benefits we can get through practicing specific pranayams. Some examples are:

  1. Bhramri: Calms mind down
  2. Kapal Bhati: Detoxifying body and clearing energy channels
  3. Bhastrika: Instance Energy
  4. Nadi Shodan: Instance Focus
  5. Anulom Vilom: Instance Focus

Most importantly, it helps to delay the aging process!!

Three most important things Yoga has taught me

Starting from Jan 2021 with an “impure” purpose, I have regularly practiced Yoga for six months. I could not believe that I will genuinely love Yoga one day when my motivation was only to lose weight and become more flexible. Have I achieved my original goal? Kind of, I have gained flexibility. But I also noticed that I had achieved more than physical benefits. I want to share the three most important things Yoga taught me:

  1. Love my body

We are flooded by all the images, videos, and articles from TV and all kinds of social media. It hugely impacts how we evaluate/judge other people and even ourselves. For example, we should look slim, pale and that’s how a pretty girl looks. I was also thinking the same way. The more I practice, the more I appreciate the flexibility and the strength of my body rather than simply pursuing the numbers.

  1. Everyone is equal

I have to be very honest – this one is a dramatic change for me. I always consider myself as the one with advantages. I could be proud, and sometimes I could be blindly confident in myself. But when I went for yoga classes, there were so many people with different backgrounds, at different ages, and from different countries. There were always people you thought could not do Yoga well, but in the end, they were the best ones in that class. I still remember this lady (sorry, I need to describe my impression first); she looks a bit chubby, dark, and probably middle-aged. I thought she could not do Yoga at all, as she did not look like those yogis in my mind who can do Yoga well (Fit and energetic looking). But surprisingly, she can do the tripod stand pose transited from the wide-angle forward bend pose effortlessly. Immediately after that class, I knew I need to change my perspective of thinking! But I do not feel bad for my thoughts anymore; everyone who practices Yoga has their own journey, and that was part of my journey.

  1. Be Patient and slow down

Yoga has also taught me to be patient and to slow down in my journey. When I first started, I easily felt defeated or disappointed when I could not do some poses after a few tries, as I always considered myself a quick learner. But Yoga is something you really need to be patient and slow down to integrate the alignment, the breath, and the focused mind into the movement instead of running from this pose to the next pose.

 

Dhanurasana – The secret to improve your posture

Dhanurasana - How to do it

It is usually translated as Bow Pose in English, with Dhanu meaning Bow and asana meaning Posture. When you are in this pose, your arms are like the bowstring, whereas your head and torso are the bow’s body.

 

In recent years, the popularity of science and technology heavily changed the way to communicate and work. People spend much more time using mobile phones and sitting in front of laptops etc. It dramatically impacted our body postures without us even noticing that—for example, hunchback and forward head.

However, many yoga poses can help us fix/improve this posture with practice. Dhanurasana is a good stretch pose to balance front and back groups of muscles.

Step by Step Practice

1.       Lie on your belly

2.       Exhale – bend your knees to lift your feet to bring your heels as close as you can to your buttocks

3.       Engage the posterior deltoids and the triceps to extend the shoulder and extend the elbows and grab the ankle.

4.       Inhale – Engage your hamstrings and gluteus maximus to bring the legs higher, at the same time depress your shoulder blades (trapezius and rhomboids) firmly to open your heart. Gaze forward.  Stay here for 5-10 breathes

Some tips to deepen the pose

1.       Engage the anterior tibialis muscles on the front of the shins and bend the ankle by flex the feet

2.       Engage the adductor longus to avoid the over-opening of the leg, to keep the legs parallel with each other

3.       Engage the erector spinae to arch your lower back

Benefits to the posture

1.       It stretches the pectoralis major and rectus abdomen to lengthen the front line of your body

2.       It strengthens the back muscle groups

Cautions

1.       Period

2.       Serious lower-back or neck injury

3.       Stomach surgeries

4.       High or low blood pressure