Regardless of what may happen, we are all going to age. However, it is how we age both mentally and physically that will affect our quality of life. According to yoga philosophy it is the flexibility of the spine that determines the age. You only have to look at yoga gurus - both past and present - to see that a regular yoga practice has a huge effect on the ageing process.
The body is supple and mobile and the brain remains active well into old age. Many yoga teachers look more youthful than their birth age and remain “young at heart”, living active lives well into their 90's. The current trend for a quick fix under the surgeons scalpel is just that; a “quick fix” to make one look youthful on the outside, while the rest of the body is degenerating in the usual way. Yoga and a yogic lifestyle allows the body to slow the ageing process down.
Stress is a major factor in ageing. By learning to control and use your breath (pranayama) to help control stressful situations, you are able to breathe more deeply and remain calm. BKS Iyengar puts this beautifully:
“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured”
A yoga practice is about finding a different way to deal with stress through postures, breathing techniques, relaxation and meditation. A good diet will often follow a regular yoga routine. Once a student develops more control through the yoga practice healthier, choices seem to come naturally.
Yoga can be taken up at any age and takes many forms. Even after many years of a sedentary lifestyle you can take up and enjoy yoga.
Deep breathing (pranayama) fills every cell in the body with fresh oxygenated blood. Inversions, where the head is lower than the heart, have a relaxing effect on the heart and lungs; once again bringing fresh blood to the upper body and massaging the thyroid and parathyroid glands, thus soothing the nervous system.
Twists and forward bends are very good for detoxifying for the body. Internal organs such as the liver, spleen and pancreas are toned and massaged. A sluggish digestive system (constipation) will hang onto waste matter. Many yoga poses encourage elimination, therefore freeing up the bowel and keeping it healthy and free from disease.
The skin and the eyes look more radiant, the body moves more freely, the mind is active, but not on alert... All of this without stepping inside a doctor's practice!