Yoga has many benefits and one that we want to explore more in this article, is how some yoga poses can help us to feel or look younger. In this article we look at some more advanced yoga asanas, which bring benefits to our mind and bodies, helping us to feel more youthful.
Remaining young is a challenge that nowadays many of us put as goal number one. We want to look healthy, attractive and glowing. To achieve it we resort to number of tricks, including expensive creams, masks and serums. But have you ever thought about yoga as a way to remain young, fit and full of energy?
They say that age is a state of mind and that beauty begins within. There are many yoga practices which support your body and mind in rejuvenation and remaining healthy. We would like to share with you few asanas (poses) which are considered as extremely beneficial for your vitality. Inversions are considered by many yogis as being excellent for improving blood circulation: this is thought to improve concentration and memory. Being upside down also helps to move lymph through the system to be excreted by the body; this detoxing and cleaning action improves our immune system. As you practice, remember to keep your breathing even, breathing in through the nose and out through the nose. Each breath brings in oxygen to the body, helping you to feel more energised (and younger!).
All of the following postures focus on keeping the spine and brain in tiptop condition. At the same time they also work to keep your glands, internal organs, joints and skin in good health. Remember to start by warming up your body first. Maybe you could add one or all of the following asanas to your regular yoga practice? If you have unmedicated high blood pressure, eye problems, neck injuries, epilepsy or dizziness, do not practice inversions until these conditions improve. Women, you also need to listen to your body to decide if you wish to practice inversions during your time of the month.
Supported Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana)
Every inversion shoulder stand is good for blood circulation and restores the lower organs. This asana also stimulates thyroid gland (as the chin tucks into the chest) which is responsible for maintaining proper weight and fresh youthful appearance.
How do I do this asana? Lie flat on your back, with your arms are resting by your sides. Press down into the floor through the palms of your hands and arms, and slowly start to lift your legs, bottom, lower back and middle back. Support your back with your hands, then gradually straighten the legs upward, pointing your toes to the ceiling. Stay here for one to three minutes. From this asana you can slowly move to Plow Pose (Halasana – see below) or you can roll out. If you roll out, remember to use your core muscles to slowly roll down, lie still for a moment before practicing the counter pose – Fish (see below).
Plow Pose (Halasana)
This pose rejuvenates the whole spine, providing an excellent stretch for the vertebrae, spinal muscles, ligaments and stimulating the nerves, which go to all body organs. It also benefits your thyroid gland too. Please take care if you suffer from back or neck pain. You can use a blanket beneath the neck to give added softness.
How do I do this asana? From Supported Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana) slowly lower your legs down behind your head, aiming to keep the legs straight and feet together – all the time keeping your back supported by your hands. If your toes touch the floor, you can release your hands, then extend your arms flat on a mat and maybe even clasp your hands for a deeper opening of your shoulders. Stay here for one to three minutes. To come out of the asana gently lower your whole body to the mat with the exhalation, vertebrae by vertebrae, allowing your feet to be the last thing to come to the floor. Rest for a moment before practicing the counter pose – Fish (see below).
Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
This pose is very important to perform after Shoulder Stand or Halasana to balance your body. It allows the spine to flex in the opposite direction providing the ligaments and muscles with a healthy stretch and balancing out the body. Matsyasana normalizes the function of the pituitary, thyroid, adrenal and pineal glands. It also tones the nervous system, intestines, kidneys and all pelvic organs.
How do I do this asana? Lie flat on your back, place your hands under your buttocks with the palms facing down. Imagine that the elbows are trying to touch beneath your back; this action opens through your chest. Press the palms of your hands and forearms down into the mat, arch your back lifting your chest up and then tilt the head back to rest the crown of your head on the mat allowing your throat to stretch. If you have neck problems, keep the gaze looking up towards the ceiling or towards your feet. Hold for five breaths, clearing out the lungs, then release down to the mat.
This asana is extremely beneficial, even though it might seem impossible to do at first! Headstand increases our confidence and vitality. Yogis claim that it improves brain function and heals nervousness, tension, sleeplessness, fatigue, dullness, fear, headaches and much more! The inversion stimulates the endocrine glands and provides a rest for our spine and vital organs by reversing gravity. It even stimulates hair growth due to increased circulation in the head. If you have not practiced Headstand before we strongly recommend doing this first with a teacher in a supportive environment, to ensure that your alignment is correct and someone can guide you. When practicing at home, start with your mat close to a wall for support. As you become more comfortable and confident in the asana, you can move your mat away from the wall.
How do I do this asana? Place your mat next to the wall and kneel down. Measure the distance between your elbows by grasping them with your hands and then place them firmly on a mat, interlock your fingers in front creating an equilateral triangle. Put the crown of your head into the hollow of the palms. Make sure that you feel stable and grounded, rise off the knees, extend your legs and start to walk on your toes with baby steps in a direction of your head. Keep the weight resting in the arms, lifting out from the shoulders. There should be little pressure on your neck. When you feel ready, suck your belly in, engaging the core muscles, then lift your legs one by one (never jump!). You can start by keeping the feet low (knees bent), then gradually straighten the legs. Stop in Headstand for one to three minutes. Then gently bend the knees and lower one foot, then the other to the floor. Take care coming out of the pose and afterwards rest in a Child’s Pose (keeping the head low) for a couple of breaths before you get up.
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
This twist is very good to release any tension which arose during your practice. It stretches our spine, all the back muscles and ligaments. Ardha Matsyendrasana also detoxifies our body and mind, so is very helpful for dealing with indigestion and constipation, as it massages the organs in our abdomen.
How do I do this asana? Sit on a floor with both of your legs extended. Cross with your right foot over the left knee and place it firmly on a ground. Bend your left leg in a knee joint and place your left foot next to your right buttock. Inhale lengthening your spine, lift up your left arm, exhale and twist to the right lowering your left elbow to the right knee and right hand behind your back. Work with your breath, inhale and imagine a string pulling you up from the top of your head, exhale and twist a little bit deeper to the right. Repeat the same on the other side. Release back to the centre and stretch out your legs.
Try to practice every day for the long lasting effects. You can perform these asanas by themselves, with a short rest between poses or you can add them to your daily yoga flow. So throw away those expensive creams, masks, serums, natural diet suplements, or surgery and take up regular yoga. Have a nice practice and remain young!