Why Yoga is Anti-Aging
By Laura Jones Miller
A small pilot study shows for the first time that changes in diet, exercise, stress management, along with peer support… may result in longer telomeres, the parts of chromosomes that affect aging.
A telomere is, in a simplified explanation…the end portion of the DNA chain. Think of the end of the telomere like the end of a shoe lace. …the end of the telomere is like that plastic end cap on the shoe lace that allows the lace to retain its shape. As the shoe lace gets used, and older, it begins to slowly unravel and wear out. Such is the case of a telomere…as we age the end of the DNA chain begins to fray and aging progress procedes. Many studies are looking at interventions that will slow the decay of the telomere…and aging.
It has been discovered that diet and lifestyle choices play a major part in slowing the progression of the decay of a telomere. The best news is that it isn’t only prevention. Telomeres can begin to lengthen and repair themselves with specific lifestyle changes. These changes are regular strength building exercise…especially recommended is yoga, a lowfat, plant-based vegan diet, stress reduction, and friendship, family, and peer support. I mean seriously…look at us…here we all are with Ali…and she is showing us all of the above…How about that!? And, How about this!?…One’s body can actually produce an enzyme (while doing the interventions mentioned above) that lengthen and repair the telomere (called Telomerase). This has a major effect on slowing the progression of aging. Another major benefit is that telomere lengthening decreases the risk of a wide variety of chronic diseases. It is believed that increases in the telomere length may help to prevent chronic health conditions and perhaps even lengthen lifespan.
The Yoga Factor
Yoga not only allows you to feel younger within… and live healthier and longer… but studies show, as discussed above, that yoga can actually slow the aging process in ways you can see and feel. I would like to place myself up as an example. I live in a community of many seniors…myself included. Most, if not all, are experiencing chronic ailments and physical breakdown. I have been practicing yoga since I was 16. I have been a vegetarian for most of my life and a vegan for 18 years now. I have survived Chronic Hep C (from a blood transfusion, being in a coma from the treatment to cure the Hep C (I have been cured for three years now),. I had Hep C for 30 plus years…My liver at this point has regenerated and shows no scarring (cirrhosis). I have very few facial wrinkles and a neck completely toned and un-lined. My body, even after four children, is firm and muscled. I have very minimal cellulite. These are not described for you to sing my own praises…but to offer my experiences as a test sample for a life style having a MAJOR effect on health and aging. I forgot to add that my bone density test showed no osteoporosis. My blood pressure is very low, and my bad cholesterol is 140 (I come from a family of genetically high cholesterol) and my GOOD cholesterol in a crazy 91! * Out of ten of my closest friends …eight have pre or full diabetes. My blood sugar in in the very healthy range. So lets look at how these health and aging advantages were accomplished …and, how you can accomplish them too…BIG reminder here…if you think you are too young to worry about it, THE BODY BEGINS AGING AT APPROXIMATELY AGE 18!!! There earlier you start…the better!!!
The aging process is completely natural and inevitable. It can not be stopped completely…but it can be slowed WAY DOWN!
Yoga can reduce many of the common physical effects of aging, including the appearance of the skin, chronic weakness, and curvature of the spine, which causes shrinking.
Aging occurs because the trillions of cells that our bodies are made up of are constantly regenerating, resulting in a completely new cellular make up around every seven years. As time goes on, the rate of regeneration becomes slower. In general, up to the age of about 20, our cells rejuvenate faster than they decay – this is the anabolic stage. Between aged 18 and roughly 35, cell rejuvenation and cell decay kind of hold even. It is normally after this age that cell decay happens faster than cell regeneration. This is what causes our bodies to weaken, age and become more susceptible to illness. Yoga is proven to slow down the decay of cells, to nurture living cells to stay healthy for longer, and to encourage cell re-growth. By its very nature, yoga keeps both your physical and mental assets strong and healthy way into old age. Yoga’s unique combination of physical positions, strength building exercise, breathing and meditation helps reduce illness, stiffness, pain and weakness.
Your body is your life machine. You only get one! If you look after it well it will service you for a very long time. If not, as in the case of all of most my friends…you will age a a quicker rate. Not one of them does yoga, they are all avid meat eaters…minimal vegetables (usually cooked to death), soda pop drinkers, fast food eaters, two are smokers and all are marginally to severely overweight. Not one of them are without some chronic health issue…and all have varying degrees of osteoporosis. About half of them are beginning to show signs of dementia. The vast majority of these problems could have been avoided with life style changes. All of a sudden they are grilling me about what I have done…what I do to stay so healthy. Is it too late for them? Not at all. I think the physical appearance of aging is only partially reversible…the wrinkles, etc. However a toned and fit body knocks years off ones age…as does an internally healthy body. It is no secret though…the earlier you start the better. Also, when you start practicing these fitness and dietary changes…they become routine…a regular part of your life…so you need not suffer trying to convince an elderly body to get up and exercise…or to go on a healthy “diet”. A plant based… diet… along with yoga/fitness will just be a normal part of who you are and what you do. Then you too can experience the miracle that I am living. I consider myself very blessed and send out love and gratitude to those early yogis who set me on this path. I would like to send out a HUGE dose of gratitude to Ali Kamenove who has enabled me to “step up my A game” tremendously with the inclusion of HIIT Interval Yoga Training and the *80 10 10 Lowfat Vegan Diet…It was a struggle for a while…but now…my body is transforming in yet another positive direction…A miracle of sorts…don’t you think? Thank you Ali…you have changed my life…I will be forever grateful for that! xoxox, L
How Yoga Works in Slowing The Aging Process (We have already discussed telomeres…but this explanation will help to explain why the body creates the enzymes that create telomerese)
Yoga poses put pressure on different parts of the body, pushing toxins and old blood out of your organs. When the yoga pose is released, fresh, oxygenated blood then flows back into your vital organs, allowing your body to absorb all important oxygen and nutrients. Yoga also teaches a focus on nurturing a positive mindset. It helps you live life to the fullest… teaching you how to work WITH your body and not AGAINST it.
Yoga and The Reduction of Spine Decay
One of the most visible and difficult symptoms of growing older is the shortening and rounding of the spine, causing shrinking and pain. By practicing yoga regularly you will improve your visible posture significantly and also eliminate tensions in the bones and muscles around the spine. A flexible back allows the spaces between vertebrae to open up and receive the nutrients they must absorb to keep you healthy. In the other case, if vertebrae become compressed from age and gravity, nutrients flow less freely and the aging process actually speeds up.
Yoga as Natural Body Cleanser
When you do certain poses in yoga, you are actually squeezing toxins out of your organs and effectively strengthening your immune system. The simple stretching and lengthening of your muscles… along with deep breathing…will remove toxins from your lymphatic system….which also strengthens the bodies immune system.
Yoga and Circulation
Yoga is a fantastic way to aid your blood circulation, which is a big deal when you are going through aging. Special yoga positions open up your chest and expand your lung capacity. When these are combined with controlled breathing and stretching out your back, a regular yoga practice will allow your bodily cells to take in more oxygen, which is necessary for their function. Better circulation also tones and firms up your skin, which can lose its elasticity with age!!!
Yoga and Body Muscle Tone Through Inversions Poses!
I don’t think anyone like the effect of aging on the body…Yoga can reverse much of the aging bodies woes…you can work into Inverted Positions where blood flows to the face, brain and upper body. Regular practice at this reduces aspects such as wrinkled, dry skin, a double chin, celulite, and even varicose veins. I love inversions and balances…This is why my neck is still toned and smooth. Yoga builds lean muscle, one of the best ways to control and stop the weight gain that’s so common as we get older. In fact, studies show that the more lean muscle you have, the easier time you have losing weight … without cutting calories. Resistance training ( chataranga Push-ups) (like The High Intensity Interval Training) is also a key way to prevent osteoporosis.
Yoga and Weight Management
Muscle burns fat/increases metabolism…It really is as simple as that…More muscle…less fat! It’s an effective exercise session for general fitness and health because it increases circulation, lowers cholesterol and aids digestive problems and BUILDS MUSCLE… especially when you practice Ali’s Interval Yoga… which works in a lot of extra strength building and cardio.
Yoga and Stress Reduction
Stress accelerates illness and early aging. Yoga is an effective and natural way to reduce stress thanks to its combination of the three main stress reducing methods – deep breathing, relaxation and challenging exercise. All of which add up to a very calm body and mind.
Yoga is a part of a lifestyle, and while it keeps your body flexible and strong, it also helps you to relax and enjoy life to the fullest. I love that yoga teaches us to be aware of our bodies…aware of ourselves and how we fit into the world. It, if practiced fully, can literally change how we see ourselves. The change doesn’t happen overnight…but it does happens…As yet another miracle that is yoga…
Namaste and love…xox, L
* For more information on the 80 10 10 plant based, vegan, low fat diet / healthy nutrition…go toalikamenova.com. Ali is our beautiful yoga teacher and she not only provides us with advice on nutrition and weight management…she also offers wonderful recipes, ways to shop for healthy, nutritious foods, and how to do so on a budget. Love to you Ali xo
* **A study of telomeres was conducted by scientists at UC San Francisco and the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, a nonprofit public research institute in Sausalito, Calif. that investigates the effect of diet and lifestyle choices on health and disease. The researchers say they hope the results will inspire larger trials to test the validity of the findings.
Other co-authors from UCSF include senior author and Nobel laureate Elizabeth H. Blackburn, PhD, professor of biochemistry and biophysics; Jue Lin, PhD, associate research biochemist; June M. Chan, DSc, associate professor of epidemiology & biostatistics; Elissa Epel, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry; Mark Jesus M. Magbanua, associate specialist; Jennifer Daubenmier and Nancy K. Hills, PhD, associate adjunct professors; and Nita Chainani-Wu, DMD, MPH, PhD, assistant clinical professor.
The research was supported by the U.S. Department of Defense; the National Institute of Health and National Cancer Institute grant number RO1 R01CA101042; Furlotti Family Foundation; Bahna Foundation; DeJoria Foundation; Walton Family Foundation; Resnick Foundation; Greenbaum Foundation; Natwin Foundation; Safeway Foundation; and the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
Jue Lin, Elissa Epel and Elizabeth Blackburn were co-founders of Telome Health Inc., a diagnostic company that assess telomere biology – THI had no relationship to this study. Dean Ornish works with Healthways, Inc. to educate and support people in making healthier behaviors. The other authors declared no conflicts of interest.
UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy, a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic biomedical, translational and population sciences, as well as a preeminent biomedical research enterprise and two top-ranked hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.
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Thank you Ali…The post looks great! And, just to live up to my reputation!…I have 24 grand kids…with one MORE due in April…love to all of the Beautiful Yogis…Let’s make 2015 an amazing Ali Yoga year for all of us! xo, L
omg why did i think 17? i will correct that <3 yes you are an example for all of us. not just persistence and determination but also heart and soul all in it! <3 love you Laura
What a wonderful post. Love to you too Laura, and Ali xxx
I do believe 2015 is going to be extra special.