I’m 37 years old, but look me in the face, give my body the once over, and like most others, you might peg my age around 27. That’s not vanity talking … it’s the reality of a consistent yoga regimen. I feel like Benjamin Button, getting younger and more vital instead of older with each year.
What yogis have known for centuries, science now backs up: When it comes to looking and feeling young, skin creams and injections ain’t got nothing on the practice of yoga. Yoga changes the body’s system as a whole, so the glow on your more youthful face actually comes from an inner transformation and slowing down of the aging process. This means fewer wrinkles, less stress, more immunity, increased brain power and yes, a body that stays healthy and beautiful for a lifetime. So forget botox. Try yoga!
I’m not talking about face yoga here — though that’s fine to do, too.
More and more research is finding that people who practice a vigorous form of yoga just three hours a week are investing in maintaining a youthful glow by switching on the anti-aging hormones that slow down the process from the inside out. In fact, some studies show that on average, these three hourly sessions make practitioners biologically nine years younger than their non-yogi counterparts. Now that’s change we can believe in! Yoga does this by stimulating the endocrine system to produce balanced amounts of hormones, and helps switch on and off genes that we need (or don’t!) to keep us running smoothly. It’s been shown, among other things, to reduce stress hormones like cortisol, a major factor in disease and aging.
Make this practice part of your regular routine, and reap the benefits of invigorated health and beauty that will have people asking you what your secret is. You’ll just smile slyly (with fewer wrinkles) and say, “It’s the yoga.”
The following 6 power poses work specifically to trigger the main endocrine glands: reproductive, adrenals, thymus, thyroid, hypothalamus, pituitary and pineal, and the major organs, which all work together to regulate stress, metabolism, aging, sleep and immunity.
1. Seated Cat/Cow
Regulates: reproductive and stress hormones
Come into an Easy Seat. Place your hands on knees, and with each inhale, arch your back, drawing shoulder blades closer. Exhale, and round in, shoulder blades move apart, chin towards chest.
Repeat for one minute or more.
2. Metabolic Spark
Regulates: metabolism and weight management, immunity
Return to Easy Seat. Inhale into the chest and ribs, and reach your arms out parallel to the floor, palms facing forward. Exhale more quickly from the navel, and swing your arms to reach out in front of you, palms face each other.
Repeat for one minute.
3. Twisted Lunge
Regulates: organ health, overall system function.
Come into a Lunge Position, back heel up, hips squared. Bring your palms together at the chest and plant your right elbow onto the left knee. Keep the hips level as you exhale and spin your heart and top shoulder to the sky. Place your back knee down onto the floor if needed.
Take 5-10 breaths here, then switch sides.
4. Humble Warrior
Regulates: Sleep, aging
Come into a Warrior One stance, right foot forward, back foot planted with toes facing diagonally to the left corner of the mat. Interlace your fingers behind the back, inhale to arch the back, and exhale, bow forward. Your right shoulder brushes the inner front knee. After a few breaths here, spin your back heel up into a Lunge position, place your back knee on the mat and take the crown of your head lightly onto the floor or a block.
Take 5 breaths in the high pose, and one minute in the lower position.
5. Sleeping Pigeon
Regulates: Mental sharpness, endorphins, master balance of glands
Move into Pigeon, right knee forward and wide of the right hip, back leg extends behind you. Fold forward with level hips, and press your forehead into double fists or a block.
Breathe here for two minutes then switch sides.
6. Supported Shoulderstand
Regulates: Sleep, skin elasticity, detoxification
Lie on your back, knees bent. Lift your hips and place a block under them. Raise your legs into the air, bent knees at first, then straightening them when you feel stable. Free float in this supported inversion, or take the legs onto a wall.
Be here for 5 minutes to end your practice.