Yoga through the ages

Yoga through the ages

It’s not just for a bunch of old people or fitness freaks or aspiring models. Pragya Bhatt dispels some myths about yoga, as she puts forth its benefits for a lifetime. 

There are many misconceptions about yoga. From “yoga will kill my sex drive” to “yoga is for a bunch of oldies wheezing together in a park”. The benefits of yoga for your sex drive and breathing are numerous, and the stuff would make another article! For now, let’s look at how relevant yoga is through different stages of your life.

A new born is given an oil massage every day to ensure that the joints and bones are strong and healthy. But as we grow older, life catches up and we end up neglecting our bodies, until those rusty joints and bones start to groan with aches and pains! And that’s when the visits to the doctors and physiotherapists start.

Prevention is better than cure. And yoga is a preventative measure against many diseases and conditions associated with lifestyle disorders and diseases. Here is how yoga can help you through the ages:

In your teensLots of emotional and physical changes occur during your teens. On an emotional level there’s pressure to fit in, stress because of studies, anxiety about the future and what not. On a physical level, the body becomes a hormonal battle ground.

Teenage yoga practitioners learn to accept the changes their bodies are going through and this prevents common issues such as eating disorders, body image issues, low self esteem, depression, and anger associated with teenage.

The practice of Pranayama and meditation help to keep teens grounded and also in thinking calmly about the emotional changes they are undergoing.

In your 20sThe 20s are a time for exploration and discovery: work, new friends, love, marriage and even babies. The practice of yoga is also associated with longevity and a fantastic quality of life. Therefore, 20s is a great time to cultivate a regular yoga practice. Most people start their first jobs in their 20s. With this come the back aches, weight gain, stress and other disorders. Smoking and binge drinking to unwind and ‘let my hair down’ becomes frequent.

However, prolonged ‘let my hair down’ ensures that the hair stays down. So, many 20-somethings have bald spots and salt and pepper hair! Women experience difficulties with their menses and irregular or absent periods. The Moola Bandha helps in maintaining the health of the uterus and treats many problems associated with menstruation. It also helps in releasing stress from the body.

Practising the Anulom Bilom Pranayam helps in eliminating stress. Inverted asanas such as the Adhomukha Svanasana help in hair growth. Practicing yoga for an hour, three times a week during your 20s, helps in fighting lifestyle-related diseases that creep up on you whilst you’re too busy gazing into your laptop.

In your 30sThe vitality of your body starts to decrease when you reach your 30s. Skin starts to lose its elasticity and wrinkles appear. Men and women both will notice a decrease in muscle tissue and an increase in loose fat. The pot belly which started in the late 20s is a permanent fixture now.

The 30s are frequently about jam-packed calendars, all-night meetings, adapting to different time-zones, increased familial responsibilities, handling difficult children and the list goes on...  Issues such as diabetes and thyroid are common. Strengthening asanas such as Chaturanga, Parsavakonasana and Ardha Chandrasana will help you in maintaining a healthy bone density, as well as building muscle mass which will help in increasing a flagging metabolism.

The Jalandhar Bandha and asanas like the Setu Bandha Asana will help in stimulating your thyroid gland. Asanas such as the Virbhadrasana will help in stimulating your reproductive organs, important for those who have opted for a late pregnancy.

In your 40sFor many, the 40s are about depression. Metabolism decreases and women tend to put on weight and find it harder to take it off. Added to this is the onset of heart disease, arthritis and osteoporosis. This is also the perimenopause stage for most women. Eyesight tends to weaken. Women who have been practicing yoga in their 20s and 30s will experience less of these issues as compared to their sedentary counterparts.

However, it’s never too late to start yoga. A regular yoga practice will also help in reducing the risk of injuries and increasing the rate of recovery from injuries, which is very important as we age. Practising meditation, breathing exercises, and simple stretches will ensure that you can handle the rigours of life in your 40s with élan.

50s and beyondMenopause marks the era of the 50s. The changes your body experiences are new, bewildering and unsettling. Yoga will help you overcome the emotional and physical trauma that can besiege a person due to the changing lives and times. Inverted asanas can help in preventing glaucoma and cataracts, other by-products of old age. Also, yoga works on the mind-body complex, which enables people to maintain an alert mind and body.

So, you see, it’s never too late to start practising yoga and make a health commitment to yourself.(The writer is a yoga instructor from Bangalore)

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