To Stay Young In Yoga, Stay Flexible



Mon, 12 Dec 2016 - 03:01 GMT


Mon, 12 Dec 2016 - 03:01 GMT

In the world of yoga, age is measured by the flexibility of the spine. Here are a few tips to keep you youthful.

by Sandra Shama Kaur

In the world of yoga, age is measured by the flexibility of the spine. Thus, to stay young, keep your spine flexible! Through various asanas (poses) that work on the spine such as cobra, cat/cow, bridge and bow just to name a few your flexibility can be increased.

When moving in and out of any pose in yoga, it may feel painful and uncomfortable, that’s why yoga advocates bridging breath with movement. Thus with each pose as you elongate the spine you breathe in, and as you contract the spine you breathe out. The combination of breath and movement distributes the vital life force also known as “prana” to each vertebrae thereby lubricating and massaging the spine and joints. This prevents problems such as arthritis, increases bone density and thereby reduces risk of injury and improves posture and spinal alignment. Some poses to practice to keep your spine young:

Cobra Pose

Open the heart and roll the shoulders down to promote flexibility in Cobra Pose.

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Cat Pose

This pose stretches the back torso and neck, and provides a gentle massage to the spine and belly organ.

Cow Pose

This pose is an easy gentle way to warm up the spine.

Bow Pose

Bend into the shape of a bow to feel energetically locked, loaded, and ready to take aim. The Bow Pose works against hunched shoulders by opening them from the front and strengthening them from the back.

In addition to the physical benefits of staying flexible, it is said that being flexible in the body induces flexibility in the mind. For example, it is common to hear older people saying things like “this is the way I am,” “I know myself, I don’t do ...” or “I can never do/be like.” This is rigid thinking, especially for those who truly believe that they have reached a point where they can no longer change. Luckily, in yoga change is happening all the time! With each new pose, there is a change in breath; with each day this is more or less flexibility. So over time yoga practitioners become more comfortable with the idea of change. So instead of resisting a new job, career, travel destination or a relationship, you become more accepting, embracing and trusting.

On an emotional level, yoga poses — especially back bends — release negative emotions that have been stored or buried in the body over the years. Think of the years that went by where you were pretending not to be angry or sad. Maybe because you did not want to hurt someone else’s feelings. May be because you were respecting an elderly person. Maybe because you were told not to cry in public. Whatever the reason, emotions that were never released in the past are stored in the body and contribute to old age. Back-bending poses release all that and keep the heart feeling light. An open heart contributes to a state of acceptance of who you are and the external pressures that we face.

Finally, growing old is associated with frequent illness and disease and all diseases begin with a poorly functioning digestive system. Yoga helps by building a heat known as ‘Agni’ that is a little like an inner fire in the stomach. When this fire burns (through the various core strengthening poses like boat pose, plank pose and breath practices like breath of fire), we become much more able to eliminate toxins from the body through the digestive system. This reduces the likelihood of illness and weight gain and keeps you feeling light, healthy and young in your body. But don’t take my word for it, try these poses next time you feel sick!

Sandra Shama Kaur is a Kundalini yoga teacher and founder of Yalla Yoga. To find out more about YallaYoga’s Forever Young Program, email



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