We all know yoga is good for us, but did you know it could extend the lifespan? It’s a holistic form of wellness and includes a lot more than the asanas (postures). However, finding the right style, teacher, and studio for yoga practice is key. There are niche classes, such as those that help recovering addicts and alcoholics, or maybe you’re the type of yogi who does best with an at-home video.
Trial and error is key when it comes to yoga because the style that “works” for you is going to be the one you enjoy and stick with. This can change throughout your life. However, remembering that it can increase your lifespan will help you in your quest to find and keep a regular practice. Need a little motivation? Here are seven ways yoga can increase lifespans:
- Some yoga can increase heart rate. If you choose a more active asana practice, such as Vinyasa or bootcamp, it can be a serious workout! When the heart rate increases to a healthy range, your heart is getting a workout, too. The heart is a muscle and it needs regular exercise to stay healthy. Heart disease, and issues related to it, are highly prevalent. It’s the number-one killer of women in America. No matter how you choose to increase your heart rate, you’re making your heart healthier. There are also target heart rates that are ideal for decreasing fat. Obesity is omnipresent and a disease that’s linked to numerous comorbidities—all of which shorten life spans.
- Breathing is life. The second most-known aspect of yoga is pranayama, or breath control. This should never be practiced without a qualified teacher present. Learning how to breathe properly, how to fill the lungs, and other options for breath (such as breathing into your back) increases oxygen, blood flow, and stretches the lungs in a good way. Breath is one of the most vital aspects of life and deserves a little attention.
- Decreases stress. Stress is a literal killer, and an issue many Americans struggle with. However, yoga has been proven to decrease stress. That’s something not every workout can achieve. Decrease stress on a regular basis, and you’ll naturally increase your lifespan. Plus, it’s helpful to have a tool readily available to help you manage stress as it’s something that can’t be avoided.
- Meditation helps with holistic health. Meditation is a well-known part of yoga and can help with mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being. It helps people to learn how to look inward, reflect, and find peace within themselves. Meditation doesn’t have to take long. Just a few minutes per day can be helpful. It’s also a lifelong practice, and there’s no such thing as “being good at meditation.” Finding a place to be still, breathe, and relax is a foundation in meditation. This alone can be tremendously helpful and a stress reliever.
- Positive social situations are often lacking as adults. Ideally, you’ll find a local yoga studio where you feel welcome and get to know yogis and teachers. Studies have shown that being physically together is paramount to health—including social health. You can make new friends, and group fitness encourages you to stick with it. As adults, it’s increasingly difficult to form new friendships. Oftentimes, work is the only option. Yoga can introduce you to a brand new set of people who are like-minded and prioritize their well-being.
- Balance is critical as we age. There’s a reason elderly people are much more likely to break a hip than their younger counterparts, and it’s not just because their bones are less strong. We lose our balance as we age, but we can prevent this from happening (or diminish the odds). Balance is a huge part of yoga. It also needs to be practiced regularly. If you have good balance as you age, there’s less chance of a dangerous fall.
- Flexibility is important as we age, too. Lack of flexibility can be debilitating. What happens if you can’t bend down to pick up something important or fully turn your head to check for traffic before you merge? Yoga prioritizes flexibility, which is a critical skill as you age.
The next time you’re struggling with whether or not you can make it to the mat, consider that your quality of life is at stake. There’s no better motivation.