8 anti-aging benefits of regular yoga practice

Age means nothing in yoga. Our bodies, if kept healthy and happy will go on and on, it’s something that even scientists are coming to agree with. The practice of yoga doesn’t have to take over your life, make you eat vegetarian or grow your hair long.

Whilst there are some things that improve with age – decision making, empathy and happiness, there are a lot of things that do change as we get older that are not for the better; it doesn’t have to be that way.  And it’s never too late to start… just so long as you make a commitment to practice regularly, little and often is the key.

1 Arthritis

Problem – painful joints (especially hands and knees) can make us feel really stiff and creaky – making us grumpy as it hurts to do things we used to get pleasure from.

How Yoga Helps – gentle regular movements help to bring synovial fluids to the joints making them feel more flexible and reduce swelling which relieves tension and pain.

2 Osteoporosis

Problem – as we age our bone density decreases which means our bones are more likely to crack if we fall.

How Yoga Helps – weight bearing exercises help to increase bone density. Although the gains are relatively small, these gains along with the improved muscle tone and balance can help to negate the effects of osteoporosis.

3 Insomnia

Problem – as we age we need less sleep and can be woken with the need to go to the loo.

How Yoga Helps – Gentle stretching and rhythmic breathing techniques can help to induce sleep. Relaxation exercises learnt in a class environment can prove very useful and help us get a full night of restful, healing sleep.

4 Blood Pressure

Problem – High blood pressure is a common ailment affecting us as we age due to reduced elasticity of blood vessels and the decreasing ability to process dietary salt.

How Yoga Helps – The regular practice of deep breathing and gentle physical exercises helps the tissues of the body to remain healthy and elastic. Attending classes helps people to look after themselves, be with like minded people, feel supported in adopting more positive approach to diet and lifestyle.

5 Hormonal Changes

Problem – menopause can cause debilitating disruption to life with wild mood swings and temperature fluctuations.

How Yoga Helps – relaxation techniques and gentle flowing posture work practiced daily can help to decrease symptoms.

6 Myofascial Tightening

Problem – a decrease in collagen produced by the body causes a loss of flexibility in our muscles and connective tissue, this leads to stiffness, tension and imbalance in the body.

How Yoga Helps – gentle, regular stretching keeps the body’s soft tissue fluid and flexible.

7 Ligament Tears

Problem – tears are common in stressed and overused ligaments of the knee joint, shoulders, hips and ankles.

How Yoga Helps – by strengthening the muscles around these joints the stress is reduced on the ligaments and the joint is able to retain it’s healthy use. There is a saying in yoga ‘use it or lose it’ and the best way to keep joints moving is to keep joints moving.

8 Core Strength and Back Pain

Problem – pain is caused by nerves being squashed by unsupported vertebrae. Gravitational forces and poor posture will continually cause vertebrae to want to move downwards. The only way to keep the spine in correct alignment is to support it with strong muscles. There are many spinal issues that can arise as we age – narrowing of the spinal canal, herniated, bulging or slipped discs – all cause back pain which is commonly managed with pain relief tablets.

How Yoga Helps – gentle work to strengthen the back, core muscles (and really the whole of the body from the feet to the eyebrows) will help the back to be supported by muscle and bring about correct alignment to the spinal column.

There is only one rule that you need to know in a yoga class “the posture should be steady and comfortable” – so if you are steady and comfortable you are doing it right. Some people may wish to stand on their heads, some may want to tie themselves up like a pretzel and that’s OK so long as it’s steady and comfortable for them. If standing on your 2 feet with the back in good alignment is what you do at your first yoga class – so long as it’s steady and comfortable then you are doing yoga that is right for you. Your practice is just that – your practice. Don’t delay – you can begin today – see my free online yoga exercises here

 

Photo Competition Winners

A HUGE BIG LOVELY thank you to all of those who entered out photo competition. The judging panel of 6 was made up of both yogis, photographers and people who didn’t have a clue about either. The judges we unanimous about the overall winner but felt 3 other entries were deserving of a prize. If you weren’t lucky this time, don’t worry I’ll run the competition again – so keep on yoga-snapping xxx

Our overall winner is “Tree-Rific” Tree Pose at Worth Matravers, Dorset by Nicky from the Wednesday evening class. The judges thought that the setting and pose worked really well.

A special prize for best caption was awarded to Sarah H from the Wednesday evening class “Coffee and Cake this Way” taken in the Lake District. 

Sarah from the Monday 7.15 class was awarded the prize for Best Seaside Pose

Caroline from the Preston 6 o’clock class was awarded the prize for the Best Back Shot.

Well done to all yogis, photographers and judges, thank you for taking part. 

Abdominal Breathing

Abdominal breathing is the most efficient and natural way to breath. It’s great to watch dogs, cats and children sleeping and watching their little abdomens expanding and contracting with the breath – it’s nature – how we are all meant to breathe. However, it’s a technique that is forgotten by most of us by the time we reach adulthood.

Tense abdominal muscles can be the result of continually holding the tummy in, tight clothing, poor posture, back ache or emotional issues. All of which are often totally unconscious.  Once correct, natural breathing is restored and becomes part of your daily life improvements in health and wellbeing can be quite amazing.

As breathing is the most vital process of the body, even slight improvements can give benefits to the practitioner. The breath influences the activities of each and every cell, and is intimately linked to the performance of the brain.  Abdominal breathing is a preparatory practice for Pranayama (control of the life force) and encourages correct breathing. Slow, rhythmic breathing brings about a calm state of mind, which in turn calms the nervous system and leads to less stress in the body. Deep breathing in this manner increases absorption of energy into the body and keeps the heart healthy and strong.

We practice abdominal breathing by enhancing the movement of the diaphragm and minimising the movement of the ribcage.  I think it helps to visualise the air moving into the body through the nose and travelling down into the abdomen (this does not really happen) and then visualise the air travelling back up through the torso and out through the nose. This movement allows full use of the diaphragm and the lower lobes of the lungs to fill and empty (the parts that don’t get used fully when the diaphragm can’t move).

Try practicing at different times of the day – when you have a little time waiting for something or when you are in bed last thing at night or first thing in the morning. Also try this type of breath in more difficult circumstances – say after a meal or when wearing a tight waist band, it will help you to appreciate where you are making life difficult for yourself! And finally, try this abdominal breathing when you are in a stressful situation and see if it works to reduce your anxiety.

“You are as young as your spine is flexible”

I’m not certain who first said this, but they really do have a point. Keeping the back healthy is so vital to our well being and enjoyment of life that we can’t afford to ignore any niggles or signs that something is wrong.

The spine is made up of 33 individual bones stacked up on top of each other rather like a tube of polo mints. In between these bones (vertebrae) are discs like mini rubber rings filled with fluid. Down the ‘hole’ in this structure runs our spinal cord which is like the body’s ethernet cable with telephone wires leaving this main cable at each intersection in the vertebrae. Whilst this is a very simplified ‘model’ of our spine, it gives us a few things to think about. 33 bones means 33 joints, which means 33 areas for problems to occur. The vast amount nerves running down the and through these joints means they can get easily caught up or trapped and stop working in many different ways. (And unlike your computer there is no such thing as simple as turning it off and on again!)

When the spine is in good alignment with all discs nice and plump and the nerves running freely, the body feels healthy, light and our reflexes (messages travelling through the nerves from all parts of our body) are fast. In short, we feel alive!

What keeps the spine stable, upright and with the right size of holes for the nerves to fit through is the ligaments and muscles of our back and core. What makes your back ache? Having uneven muscles which mean the vertebrae settle out of alignment. Another way to view your spine is like a tent pole – if the guy ropes (muscles) are not working to pull in the different directions then it will bend and break and fall over.

So to keep the spine in optimum condition the ancient yogis devised many practices to move the vertebrae through their comfortable range of movements – forward and back bending, side to side (lateral bending) and twisting. In our yoga and stretch and relax classes the focus is often on a specific theme (this term Big/Small and Feet) however, we always work through these 6 movements of the spine in a gentle and comfortable manner. This is what makes you feel more relaxed at the end of the class 🙂

If you want your back to get stronger, it’s fairly simple really, work a few postures every day. The benefits are too many to relate here, but back ache will be a thing of the past and your posture and breathing will improve enormously. In turn you will feel like eating less food (yes really) because you get more energy from the air that you breathe. Not only that, but also, as you strengthen the muscles they will become more balanced and strengthen your resistance to and recovery from injury. It’s a big win to keep your spine flexible.

YOGA WITH SARAH ROGERS

AUTUMN TERM

Starting Week Beginning 3rd September

Yoga for  Beginners – St Gilbert’s Primary School, Stamford. PE9 2PP

Thursday 6.45-8.00pm

Yoga for Beginners – Bainton Reading Room, Bainton , Stamford. PE9 3AU

Friday 9.30-10.45am

For more information please look at my website:

http://www.sarahyoga.net

sarahyoga@talktalk.net

07751 884534

I have been teaching Yoga since 1997 and qualified as a British Wheel of Yoga teacher in 2001.  I have been lucky to study with a number of different teachers over the years and have had experience of a variety of Yoga Schools.  My style of teaching is mainly influenced by the Viniyoga and Mantra Yoga traditions.  I aim to deliver interesting and structured lessons that allow students to develop, grow and improve. Classes include:  asanas (postures), pranayama (breath work), concentration, relaxation, and philosophy.

Weekly Yoga Classes – September 2018

This year our yoga classes will revolve around the theme of OPPOSITES. This concept was used widely in yogic literature to help us understand ourselves and the world in which we live. Our first pair of opposites will be BIG and small. As always with Hatha yoga we begin with the physical body and using the body to explore ways of being big – like an Oak Tree or a Mountain and also being small – like a child, a bird or a seed. Moving from one to the other challenges our balance, and strengthens and stretches our muscles.

We’ll work with the breath, expanding the lungs with physical moves and breathing exercises – discussing the benefits of large breaths vs small breaths and taking time to feel what this experience is like for us. Throughout our work during the year there will be many ‘companion’ opposites – loud and quiet, easy and strained may well be other pairs as we develop our work with the breath.

There will be time spent on thoughtful reflection too – looking back at BIG life events and forward to BIG life goals. And then considering the smaller things in life too –

Sometimes,” said Poo, “the smallest things take up the most space in your heart.”

(from Winnie the Poo by AA Milne)

I’m very much looking forward to exploring this concept and other OPPOSITES with you as the new year of yoga unfolds. Namaste xx

Stretch & Relax – September 2018

In this year’s Stretch & Relax classes we’ll be taking a tour around the body seeing how each part feels for us on a personal level and also how improvements with one area can often alleviate issues in others… We will begin with our FEET which form the foundation o f our standing postures and which we rely on for our mobility and independence as we get older.

Feet are actually quite fascinating once you get over the look of them. They consist of lots of tiny bones, with lots of tiny joints in between. When the joints in the feet aren’t as flexible as they could be the result is that the feet can’t operate as the ‘suspension’ mechanism of the body – so even walking (let alone running and jumping) can become problematic to joints further up the body (knees, hips and spine) as the foot is not taking the impact of the weight of the body as it steps/plods around. We will use a variety of means – movement, massage with a small ball and massage with our hands to help to get our feet more flexible. And do you know… that because of all the nerve endings in the souls of the feet working with the feet can be extremely relaxing and calming. A traditional yogic remedy for insomnia is self foot massage. We’ll spend some time working on proper alignment of the feet as this can help prevent and heal foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, and shin splints not to mention a variety of mis-alignments further up the body. Keeping the feet flexible and relaxed also helps circulation of fluids to this area which over time helps to keep the skin on the feet healthy. Poor skin health is what leads to the build up of bacteria, smells, verrucas, athletes’ foot etc

So before we pack our tootsies into the boots for winter let’s give them some TLC and – who knows you may notice that the pain in your neck goes as well 🙂

 

Final Call For Photo Comp

Your Last Chance to Enter…

If you would like to win a bag full of yoga goodies including a cosy fleece blanket, a rose quartz mala necklace, and a very hefty B K S Iyengar Yoga Book, (total value of products over £80) why not enter our photo competition???

All you have to do is email me a selfie of you in your favourite yoga pose… or maybe get someone to take the picture for you, don’t want any accidents 😉

Don’t delay the deadline is this Saturday, 1st September – so get snapping and I look forward to seeing the results xxx

See the original competition post here

Get Back Into The Swing…

Get yourself ready for the new term by having a go at these 3 standing stretches. They are great for waking up the spine and strengthening the core muscles. Do 5 repeats of each every day until the new classes begin and you’ll slip seamlessly into our work 🙂

As with all our practice – do not strain, if something doesn’t feel right for your body (my shoulder hurts or my knee doesn’t like that) then miss out that part and do the other exercises. Some work for you body is much better than none.

1 Tadasana with Breath

Tadasana

Remove your socks and shoes if possible. Allow the feet to spread out on the floor or your mat, positioning them directly under your hip joints. Bring awareness into the soles of the feet and feel your weight sinking down evenly through the whole surface of the sole. If you feel unbalanced, bring awareness to each side of your foot in turn – leaning forwards, backwards and side to side. Come to stillness – an evenness of weight now descending through the soles of your feet.

Next interlace the fingers in front of you and as you inhale take the arms over head and rise up onto the balls of your feet. As you exhale return the heals and arms down. Repeat 5 times. Pause.

2 Swaying Palm Tree

Now take the feet a little wider so that they are on the outsides of your hips. This time keeping the heals in touch with the floor, breath in and take the arms up the front, as you exhale take the arms over to the right side keep the hips still and let the movement come from the waist. Keep facing forward, do not strain. When you need to breathe in come upright to the centre and then exhale down to the left side. Feel as though you are light and loose, don’t push. Lift the hands up each time you breathe in to the centre. Repeat 5 times to each side. Pause. Smile.

3 Kati Chakrasana

This is a free moving twist for the upper body. Keep the feet in the wide stance and soften the knees, breathing in raise the arms sideways to shoulder height. As you breathe out twist around to the right allowing the arms to wrap around the back of the waist and the shoulder as in the picture. Swing around 5 – 10 times to each side, feeling the freedom of your spine. Come to stillness, move the feet back under the hips. Pause for a few breaths in Tadasana.

Well done to you – same again tomorrow xx

Moroccan Carrot Salad

Carrots are very good for you. The contain beta carotene which is converted into vitamin A in the body and this is most excellent for your eyes and for your immunity. So lets get crunching..

INGREDIENTS

    • 1 pound carrots, coarsely grated (about 4 cups)
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or extra-virgin olive oil
    • 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
    • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, mashed or minced
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin or 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
    • Pinch of salt
    • About 1/2 teaspoon harissa (Northwest African chili paste), 1 tablespoon minced green chilies, or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days to allow the flavors to meld and permeate the carrots. Served chilled or at room temperature. Easy peasy.