I think many people might agree with me when I say that the best holiday gift we could receive would be a way to slow down time and the aging process. Well, what if I were to tell you that researchers may have identified a way to slow down one of these – would you be willing to do whatever it takes? What if “whatever it takes” is a pretty simple change in lifestyle choice that may hold the key to delaying the aging process? Are you with me??
When I first discovered yoga, I was simply trying to find some sort of exercise that I could do by myself since work began to interfere with my first passion, tennis. In addition, the stress of work and lack of exercise contributed to a painful herniated lumbar disk in my back, further limiting my movement options. Little did I know that “doing yoga” would not only help heal my back pain, but would also support reframing the painful thoughts that I experienced in my mind as well. As I experienced these significant shifts in my life, I found myself longing for more time on my mat. My mind and body began to crave it as my sleep improved, my blood pressure lowered, and my ability to respond (instead of react) improved. So, as you can imagine, I was hooked!
Now, years later, in my mid-50s, I find myself in the minority of the American population that does not require a prescription medication to maintain my health. I feel blessed that I found yoga when I did and recommend yoga and meditation to anyone that might be interested in trying a different approach to improving their body-mind-spirit health. Now with this new research, I might take a different approach to “selling” yoga, because yoga and meditation now have been shown to demonstrate improvement in biomarkers of cellular aging and longevity!
After just 12 weeks of a yoga and meditation based lifestyle intervention, there was a positive change in almost 10 different biologically-based indicators of physical aging. Participants’ ages ranged from 30 to 65 years of age and the intervention included a 90-minute practice (including yoga poses, pranayama or breath practices, and meditation techniques) derived from a mix of Hatha and Raja yoga that was performed 5 days per week. The results reflect that although we may not be able to change our biology or chronological age, if we commit to such a lifestyle we can certainly reverse or slow down the pace at which we age, prolonging a youthful, healthy life! Are you in?
And let me challenge any thoughts that might arise as you read this reflection that might suggest to you that you are not flexible or strong enough to “do yoga” or that it’s too late, I’m too old, or I’m not in a physical shape that would allow me to participate in a yoga class. There are yoga classes available to “every” body and mind, including gentle, breath-centered, trauma-informed, restorative, chair, mood management, and sound healing to name just a few. There are also yoga classes designed for beginners, ones geared toward athletes, and others intended for people living/recovering from chronic diseases, such as cancer and multiple sclerosis. It might take a little research to find the right class/teacher for you to take the first step towards integrating a yoga and meditation practice into your life, but I promise you it will be work the time and effort!
If you would like to read more details on this latest research, click on the button below: