Have you ever wondered why some people look young at 60 while others look old at 30? Studies have shown that stress and lifestyle choices, like poor diet, lack of exercise, substance abuse, and sleep deprivation are the biggest culprits for accelerated aging and illness.
Susan A. Everson, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan says the body’s sympathetic nervous system reacts to mental or emotional stress by increasing blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration – a reaction linked to the development of chronic high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, two known risk factors for stroke and heart disease.
Most people wake up and immediately enter an ‘On’ mode and very often stay that way until they sleep. This means the adrenals are working overtime and the body never has time to replenish it’s energy but draws on all supplies to continue to drive our ‘mission’. This causes accelerated aging and illness.
‘Hormones shut down functions unnecessary during the emergency. Growth, reproduction, and the immune system all go on hold. Blood flow to the skin is reduced. That’s why chronic stress leads to sexual dysfunction, increases your chances of getting sick, and often manifests as skin ailments.
With your mind and body in this temporary state of metabolic overdrive, you are now prepared to respond to a life-threatening situation,’ explain scientists at the Franklin Institute.
While youth is on your side, worrying about bad habits seems a total waste of time for most. But gradually these habits take their toll on the inside and one day, the inside catches up and becomes the outside. You’ve heard people use the phrases ‘I just woke up one day’ or ‘overnight’ I seemed to age. For the most part, aging badly is a result of overriding the body’s need for rest.
But wrinkles and birth certificates are no indicator of biological age; look at the health of your spine to really know how old you are. ‘You are as young as your spine’ is ancient Chinese wisdom. This is why yoga is known as the anti-aging exercise.
Staying youthful as the year’s pass is all about keeping the spine flexible, the joints supple and the mind calm. Yoga helps with this. Don’t worry, it is not about achieving Pretzel-like shapes but rather the consistent simple movements that stimulate the body’s joint lubrication, mobility and system relaxation.
Yoga is an ancient form of movement. It was started in India thousands of years ago and reserved for the Brahmin and Royals. It was a path to enlightenment and ultimate physical wellbeing. Today it is available to everyone who wishes to practice.[callout title=Stanford University]A review found that mind-body techniques including yoga were effective as treatments for musculoskeletal disorders[/callout]
‘Yoga’ means union in Sanskrit which refers to the union of our body and mind. A very important union for wellbeing.
On a physical level, yoga is rejuvenating with gentle movements that open the joints, unlock the stiffness and get the circulation moving. The practice begins to gently guide your body back to its optimum health from wherever you are. It does not require a level of fitness or flexibility, it asks only that you are willing to commit to a consistent practice.
On a mental level, yoga trains the mind to stop the endless thinking, to be in the moment and reconnect with the body. It teaches how to cultivate a relationship between the body and mind. When this happens people find they naturally start gravitating towards a healthier lifestyle.[callout title=Roosevelt University Stress Institute]Studies have found that yoga stretches reduce physical stress while increasing physical relaxation[/callout]
There are many styles of yoga and not all styles of yoga have a calming effect. Some styles are very challenging and demanding of the body. The more strenuous classes can serve as a good exercise routine however, they are not going to be as rejuvenating. Rejuvenation happens when the body rests or undergoes a practice that switches off the ‘fight or flight’ nervous system.
Yin yoga is a slower deeper practice that allows the body to turn off the ‘fight or flight’ mode and enter what I call, the ‘Love & Light’ mode, and this is the key to anti-aging. The transitions between postures are carefully guided and tranquil, the body is stretched deeply releasing the stress and tension held within the myriad of muscle, tissue and fascia. The mind is given space to relax in the pose and connect with the breath moving though the body.
Yoga series,’The Eternal Youth Series’ is the perfect daily routine that gently works the spine in all its ranges of movement and creates moisture by stimulating the cerebro-spinal fluids needed for articulation. It is a simple yoga series that is available to everyone, easy to remember and practice daily in your own home.
When we connect to ourselves in the present moment, feel the breath moving and experience the exquisite beauty in our one-ness with life, we begin to live La Dolce Vita.
If you would like to try a class with Sonia you can do so at Wholefoods in Kensington on Mondays in December from 6.30am to 8am. Classes are £8, all of which goes to helping the world’s poorest communities build a better future. Book online at www.wholefoodsonline.co.uk.