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As those who have been practicing yoga for a long time will agree, there is a strong connection between your body and your mind. When your mind is under stress, your body reflects it in many ways – poor posture, low back pain and tense muscles, just to name a few. It’s no wonder, then, that people who are under a tremendous amount of stress seem to age faster than those who have learned to manage it. Stress – and gravity, of course – is what makes us age.

There are seven basic attributes that characterize someone who’s vibrant and healthy, someone who seems to defy the effects of aging:

 

  • Supple skin that radiates beauty
  • Strong, shiny hair
  • Well defined muscles and bone structure
  • Boundless energy that lights up a room
  • A light but firm and confident step
  • A positive, well-balanced attitude toward life
  • A calm demeanor 
Are you feeling it yet? Believe it or not, this can be you, and it has nothing to do with age. Enter yoga, the great age-defying stress reducer. Though not necessarily Ponce de Leon’s famed fountain of youth, practice yoga on a regular basis and you may just start to notice some welcome benefits. To start your own anti-aging campaign, try practicing the following a few times per week:

 

Flex Your Spine

Your spine is the foundation of everything you do. It helps your body maintain its structure, supports your head, arms, and legs, and provides shock absorption for all of your activities. In addition, it houses your central nervous system, the highway that connects your brain to the rest of your body. With all of that work to do, it’s no wonder your spine gets tired on a daily basis. Even those with the best posture find themselves slouching at the end of a, particularly stressful day. Give your spine some love with asanas (yoga poses) that elongate, strengthen and stretch your spine. Alternating cat and cow pose is a great start. A spine that’s flexible promotes good balance and strength. 

Release Your Muscle Tension

Body aches and pains are often the results of tight muscles. From headaches to back problems, tight muscles can slowly leave you permanently hunched over and limit your ability to perform activities that you love. Over time, the range of motion can diminish and the activities you once loved can become challenging. Self-massage can improve circulation and warm up your muscles, encouraging them to release the toxins that cause you pain. A rule of thumb is to use light circular motion over joints and areas of pain and sweep with long strokes over areas such as the front of the thigh and arms. Self-massage is particularly useful to help you relax during the day – even if you spend just a couple of minutes massaging your neck. Another great time for self-massage is while you shower. Your skin and senses come alive in the steam of the shower and self-massage relaxes your muscles, readying you for the day ahead or preparing you for a restful evening.

 

Breathe in Life

Breathing correctly delivers oxygen to your bloodstream, nourishing every single cell in your body. Breathing also acts as a purifier to help you rid your body of toxins collected throughout the day. The breath, or prana, is life. Pranayama is both the extension and the control of breath, and indeed the subtle energies of the body. Although there are many different schools of teaching, the most basic approach is breath awareness. Lying or sitting in a comfortable position and just noticing your breath for a set period of time reaps powerful benefits. You become more focused and relaxed. You can either simply notice your breath without judgment or focus your breath on a particular area of your body, such as that catch in your neck. With each inhale, you send the breath to your neck, extending love and compassion to that area that’s been crying for attention. With each exhale, you release, allowing tension and pain to leave your body with your breath. Pranayama is a gift you give to yourself.

 

Ready. Set. Meditate!

Looking for inner calm and a positive outlook on life? Take a minute – or ten – to bring your body, mind, and senses into balance. Once you achieve this balance through meditation, your nervous system will calm down, you’ll be less anxious and you might actually gain some powerful insights. About what? Only you can determine. There are a number of ways to meditate. You just need to find what works for you and stick with it. The process will show you the way. For starters, just focus on your breath with no judgment, as we discussed above. Just notice how it flows in and out of your body. Set a timer for five minutes and let go. If you notice your mind wandering away from your breath, gently bring it back to the breath. The breath is the beginning and end of all things.

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