Can Yoga Slow the Physical Effects of Aging?


Deb Lowther

Yoga is great for strength, flexibility and balance, but can yoga slow the physical effects of aging? 

You bet!

Yoga is thousands of years old and a practice of being mindful, mastering breathing, and maintaining poses. It’s been around that long because it has many clear benefits for your overall health and your body’s wellbeing. There are many forms of yoga and types of classes . . . Restorative Yoga, Power Yoga, even Goat Yoga . . .but that's a whole other story. 

All forms of yoga offer benefits in flexibility, balance and mental clarity, but power yoga can also offer some excellent strength building.  Holding poses and using body weight for resistance is beneficial in building strength which in turn slows age related muscles loss (sarcopenia). This loss begins in our 30s and 40s and continues as we age, making even more valuable the restorative and muscle building benefits of workouts like yoga.

We are also now learning that the meditative part of yoga, which includes focusing your mind and breathing, can also slow aging. How? By reducing tension, anxiety and stress, you can effectively slow down the aging process at a cellular level. The two core principles of yoga—strength and relaxation—are the keys to slowing the aging process. And when it comes to muscle loss, yoga can even help to reverse the process.

  • Yoga keeps you limber and strong as the poses stretch, twist and challenge your muscles and your mind.
  • It helps to maintain healthy joints and muscles.
  • It calms your breathing, which improves your circulation and slows down your heart rate.
  • Improves your posture and increases your balance.

Yoga keeps you limber and strong

The balance you need to hold poses requires both strength of body and mind. You need to focus to be able to maintain your balance, and you need the core strength to manage it physically. Many yoga poses require ‘lengthening’, which is how you train your body to stand taller and align your body, for a strong spine and posture. Balance, flexibility and good posture are vital if you want to improve your strength and agility for healthy aging.

Aside from ensuring that you are getting enough high quality protein in your daily diet, supplemented with all the essential amino acids your body needs to build muscle, using your muscles to maintain your strength is the only way to slow this part of aging. Even without exercise, REJUVENATE essential amino acids can help you to reverse age related muscle loss. Adding exercise like yoga to your routine will improve the effects immensely.

Yoga uses body weight as resistance for many yoga poses, such as downward dog, plank, chaturanga and chair pose. They work your shoulders, biceps, triceps and major leg and glute muscles, which improves your overall core strength, as well as bone density.  With regular yoga classes, you will see an improvement in your physical strength and flexibility, which will slow down and even being to reverse age-realted muscles loss.

Yoga contributes to healthy joints

Muscle and body aches and stiffness seem to be an accepted part of the aging process, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If anything, you should live by the notion that ‘use it or lose it’ is true, when it comes to body and joint health. Regular yoga stretches muscles and joints in all areas of your body, which improves your range of motion and mobility. With healthy joints, you can remain strong and limber for a long, healthy life.

Yoga calms and trains your breathing

That might not seem important, as breathing is an autonomic function that you need to stay alive. But like everything else, there is breathing, and there is better breathing! In yoga, paying attention to your breathing is key. You will find that in doing so, you will increase your lung capacity. Further, mindful breathing helps to improve digestion and reduces blood pressure.

Learn to take full breaths, to breathe with the movement and poses and to strengthen your core. These all contribute to supporting your respiratory system, give your digestive organs a workout and stimulate your circulation.

Yoga calms the mind

One of the parts of yoga that often has newbies running for the hills is the meditative component. While some styles of yoga have more meditation than others, all allow time for your mind and body to be quiet, to create a stronger connection between the two.

Think of it instead as mindfulness. Being conscious of your mind and breathing, controlling your movements and building up your core strength, balance and flexibility have been proven to relieve anxiety, tension and stress, to slow the heartbeat, and ultimately, calm your mind. If you have trouble sleeping, yoga might be just the restorative your body is looking for.

Consult with your health care practitioner before starting any new exercise routine, including yoga, and before you sign up for the local class, talk to the teacher and make sure that they style they are teaching will work for you.

Different yoga options

  • Hatha yoga offers slow moving classes that hold poses.
  • Vinyasa yoga is more dynamic,as you flow from one pose to the next.
  • Ashtanga yoga is built on six key poses that will challenge you.
  • Yin yoga is more meditative.
  • Power yoga classes work in weights and cardio for strength.
  • Hot yoga gets your sweat on for a more intense practice.
  • Restorative yoga holds poses for longer to experience a deeper relaxation or meditation.
  • Aerial yoga introduces silks and an element of playful fun as you pose hanging upside down. This one is definitely not for everyone but if you’re game, it’s a lot of fun!

By going to yoga classes regularly, eating properly, with sufficient protein, and adding REJUVENATE to your daily diet, you can rest easy knowing that you are doing your best to slow down the aging process for your health, mind and muscles!