Slow the effects of aging and stress with these easy yoga poses to keep your body looking (and feeling) vibrant.
Whether we like it or not, the effects of aging begin to set in as we grow older. If you’re looking to naturally rid yourself of the fine lines, puffiness, gray hairs, and body stiffness that come with aging, the evidence is overwhelming that practicing yoga and meditation will do the trick.
One research study showed that just eight weeks of structured daily yogic meditation can decrease inflammation and inhibit age-related symptoms such as reduced collagen production, and even diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Osteoporosis. (1, 2) Another study showed that after 12 weeks of a Yoga and Meditation based lifestyle, there was a decrease in diseases associated with cellular aging, such as depression, cancer, and diabetes. (3)
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Other anti-aging benefits of yoga include:
- Restoration of Growth Hormone. One study discovered that a combined approach of yogic practices such as cleansing techniques, physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation significantly increases the basal level of hormones in the blood that are responsible for promoting healthy aging. (4)
- Improved circulation. Poor circulation leads to slowed collagen production, skin dullness and dryness, and water retention which causes puffiness and adds to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Yoga breathing practices and certain postures can improve blood flow, thus helping oxygen reach the body cells easier. (5) Also, inversion poses like downward facing dog and standing forward fold can reverse the blood flow of the body and promote better circulation towards the heart and head. More circulation to the head means fewer wrinkles and fine lines and less graying hair as well as improved cardiovascular health.
- Improved digestion. Certain twisting yoga postures help to increase digestion through peristalsis where the muscles of the intestines constrict and relax to help move food along the digestive tract.
- Greater feelings of happiness with reduced stress and cortisol levels. Performing higher intensity yoga practices help you work up a sweat and release happy hormones like endorphins and serotonin as well as anti-inflammatory markers. (6) At the other end, using calming, restorative yoga poses and breathing techniques like Ujjayi breathing and Nadi Shodhana help to reduce cortisol levels. Yoga also teaches you to relax the muscles of your face while dealing with challenging postures, meaning you’ll learn to stop scrunching your brow as much when you’re worried. All of this means a healthier mind and body, and fewer wrinkles and gray hairs.
- Increased balance, strength, and flexibility. As we age, our strength, balance, and flexibility continually decrease. Practicing yoga poses can help the muscles and joints to stay supple, strong, and toned. The strength that yoga helps build in the core and stabilizing muscles leads to more stability and decreases the likelihood of falls as you age.
Yoga Poses to Promote Healthy Aging
Perform these nine yoga poses to begin experiencing all the anti-aging benefits that yoga has to offer! All you need is a yoga mat and a block.
Start your practice with this yogic breathing technique and continue to breathe in this manner as you move through this nine-pose routine. Ujjayi breathing helps to calm your mind, relieve stress, and reduce the body’s inflammatory fight-or-flight response.
- Start by finding a comfortable seat with your legs crossed and your palms facing up on your thighs. You can sit on a block if your hips or lower back feel tight.
- Seal your lips and place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. When you do this, you should feel a slight constriction in the back of your throat.
- Breathe slowly in and out of your nose. Your breathing should feel textured, and your exhales should be audible. Keep this slow, deep breathing in and out through your nose and continue on to the following poses.
Bridge Pose | 8 breaths
This gentle inversion reverses blood flow to improve circulation and digestion, and to reverse fine lines and graying.
- Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Place your arms down alongside your body with your palms facing down. Keep your feet hip-width distance apart and walk them close to your body.
- Press your palms into the floor as you inhale and lift your hips up towards the ceiling.
- Hold for eight slow Ujjayi breaths in and out of the nose, then slowly roll back down onto your back one vertebra at a time.
Standing Forward Fold | 8 breaths
This easy inversion improves flexibility in the legs, hips, and lower back while also reversing blood flow to improve circulation.
- Start standing with your feet hip-width distance apart.
- Bring a small bend to your knees. Then, exhale and hinge at the hips to fold forward with a flat back.
- Bend your knees enough to place your fingertips on the ground. Let your head hang heavy and allow the weight to shift slightly towards your toes. Hold for eight slow Ujjayi breaths.
Downward Facing Dog | 8 breaths
This gentle inversion builds strength in the upper body and core, improves flexibility in the legs and hips, and reverses blood flow to increase circulation, improve digestion, improve cardiovascular function, and decrease the signs of aging like fine lines.
- Transition down to a push-up position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists. Spread your fingers wide and press through your knuckles to root down.
- Bring a slight bend into the knees and lift your hips up towards the sky, making a V-shape with your body. Press your chest up and back towards your thighs. Pull your navel in towards your spine and reach your tailbone up.
- Keeping your back straight, let your heels lower towards the ground. You can always keep a bend in your knees if you need to in order to keep your back straight. Hold for eight slow Ujjayi breaths.
Revolved Low Lunge | 8 breaths per side
This twisting pose increases digestion and improves flexibility in the hips, spine, and shoulders.
- Begin in a high lunge position with your right foot between your hands and your left knee on the ground.
- Press your hips forward. Your right knee should be stacked over the ankle and you should feel a stretch in the hip flexors.
- Place your left hand on the inside of your right foot, then inhale to reach your right arm up towards the sky, bringing your body into a twist.
- Keep the back of your neck long and look up or to the right. Keep your abs engaged and hold for eight breaths.
- Repeat on the other side.
Forearm Plank | 8 breaths
This pose builds strength in the core, arms, shoulders, and legs while also improving circulation and releasing happy endorphins.
- Lie belly down on your mat. Place your forearms down so that they are parallel to one another and spread your fingers wide.
- Tuck your toes under, firm up your abs, and press into your forearms as you lift your hips up in line with your shoulders.
- Continue pressing up through your forearms to increase the space between your shoulder blades. Feel your abs working.
- Hold for eight slow Ujjayi breaths.
Dolphin Pose | 8 breaths
This inversion will get your heart rate pumping as your build strength in your upper body and core, and flexibility in your hamstrings, calves, and feet. It also reverses blood flow to improve circulation and cardiovascular function.
- Start in the forearm plank position from above.
- Press firmly through your forearms and walk your feet towards your elbows.
- Keep your abs engaged and press your chest up and back towards your thighs. Look at you shins as you hold for eight breaths.
Boat Pose | 8 breaths
This pose strengthens the core, improves cardiovascular function, and promotes the release of endorphins.
- Begin seated on the floor. Bend your knees, squeeze your legs together, and place your feet on the ground. Place your hands behind you and pull against your thighs to lift your chest.
- Keep your chest lifted as you engage your core and lift your heels off the ground, pointing your toes. Bring your shins parallel to the floor. You should feel your abs working.
- Bring your hands out in front of you at knee level, palms facing up.
- Continue lifting up through your chest and hold for eight slow breaths.
Embryo’s Pose | 8 breaths
This calming yoga pose helps to activate the body’s parasympathetic rest-and-digest state, lowering cortisol levels and stress, improving digestion, and reducing wrinkle-causing worry.
- Begin in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Bring your legs all the way together.
- Slowly walk your hands back towards your knees and lower your hips onto your heels. Then, place your arms alongside your legs so that your hands are face-up by your ankles. Rest your forehead on the mat.
- Close your eyes and hold for eight slow Ujjayi breaths.
Viparita Karani | 3-5 minutes
This restorative inversion helps to calm your body and mind, bringing you into a parasympathetic state. It also helps draw blood flow to the stomach to increase digestion and fight nausea.
- Begin sitting sideways next to a wall with a yoga block off to one side.
- Roll onto your back, bend your knees, and place your feet up on the wall. Lift your hips up and slide the block underneath your sacrum. Lower your hips down to rest on the block.
- Straighten your legs up the wall and bring your arms out long by your sides. Turn your palms to face up.
- Close your eyes and relax here for three to five minutes, taking at least ten slow Ujjayi breaths.
(Your Next Workout: 5 Easy Restorative Yoga Poses to Relieve Stress)