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6 anti-aging yoga poses to keep you young

Want to stay younger, for longer? Yoga can help get you there ‘ starting with these six anti-aging poses.

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6 anti-aging yoga poses

Staying young with yoga

Mentally, getting old isn’t so bad. Physically, it seems like it’s all downhill after 18. We lose flexibility, balance and strength – especially once we hit our 30s – and the aches and pains pop up out of nowhere.

 

Want an easy way to keep your body in top shape as the decades roll by? Yoga might be your answer. It’s a low-impact way to strengthen and stretch and can be done anytime and just about anywhere. We asked Toronto yoga teacher Christine Felstead (our model for these photos) to guide us through some poses that will slow the aging process.

 

Ideally, do the whole sequence a few times a week up to daily at whatever time of day fits your schedule. Start by doing each pose for about five deep breaths and increase from there when you feel ready. If the whole sequence is too much, work the poses into your routine wherever they might fit. And if you’re feeling stressed – something that’s guaranteed to make you get older faster – or need a break during the sequence of poses, try child’s pose, pictured at left. Knees can be together or wider apart, and arms alongside the body as pictured or out in front. Focus on the breath moving in and out of the body, and let yourself relax.

 

As always, if you have any concerns about starting a new routine, speak to your doctor. And a qualified yoga teacher will be able to answer any questions about the details of the poses. And don’t forget to breathe!

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1. Equal standing

1. Equal standing

Felstead says this pose will help you develop awareness of postural tendencies.

• In bare feet, stand on a yoga mat or the floor with feet parallel and together or hip-width apart, arms hanging at sides.
• Focus on the feet and how your body weight is distributed. Without lifting the soles of your feet off the floor, shift forward, backward and side to side to move your body weight until you bring it to centre.
• Moving your attention up the body, feel that your hips are stacked over ankles and shoulders over hips. Move the chin back so that the skull is balanced on the spine. Aim to find an equilibrium that means you’re using as little muscle strength as possible to stand.
• Imagine that a string is pulling you up from the crown of your head. Notice if you’re slouching and stand up straighter, without overengaging any muscles such as the glutes.

 

Change it up: Close the eyes and notice how your balance changes. Or try doing the pose in front of a mirror and compare how you feel with how straight and even you look.

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2. Tree pose

2. Tree pose

Balance is notoriously more difficult as we age, says Felstead. Tree pose is a simple balancing posture that will help you maintain your abilities.

 

• Start in equal standing posture, then shift most of your body weight into the left foot and leg. Bring your hands to prayer position in front of the chest.
• Come onto the toes of the right foot and open the right hip and leg.
• If your balance is unsteady, keep your right toes on the floor, right heel against the inside of the left calf. If you feel stable here, lift the right foot off the floor and place against the inside of the left calf or thigh, being careful not to press against the knee.
• Take a few breaths, then slowly lower and repeat on the second side.

 

Change it up: Challenge your balance by reaching the arms above the head or by looking up toward the ceiling.

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3. Squat

3. Squat

Strong thigh muscles will help protect the knees from pain and injury, says Felstead.

 

• Start in equal standing posture with feet together and arms at sides.
• Keeping the knees and feet together, sit back as though you were going to sit in a chair. Only go as far as you are comfortable and balanced, but do try to challenge your muscles. To protect the knees, make sure they’re behind the toes and not moving forward.
• At the same time, reach the arms straight in front of you to help with balance.

 

Change it up: If it’s easier to balance, you can do this pose with feet hip width apart – just be sure the knees are pointed in the same direction as the toes and not caving inward. Play with how deep you can go while maintaining an erect spine and happy knees.

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4. Downward dog

4. Downward dog

A classic and well-known yoga posture, downward dog improves upper-body strength, promotes a healthy spine and stretches the back body.

• Start on hands and knees, with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips. Fingers should be spread wide and engaged, with middle fingers pointing forward. Look behind you and check that feet are about hip width apart.
• Curl under the toes and reach the tailbone toward the ceiling. At this point, keep the heels high off the floor and keep a gentle bend in the knees.
• Gently straighten the knees and lower the heels toward the floor (it’s unlikely that they’ll touch) until you feel a soft stretch in the back of the legs and in the back. If it feels too strong, bend the knees again until you’re more comfortable. The very unflexible might want to take their feet a bit farther apart.
• Rather than dumping all the weight into the shoulders, aim to balance it between hands and feet. Engage the hands and arms as though you were reaching forward with your hands. Bring the belly button toward the spine and engage the core rather than sinking at the ribs.

 

Change it up: To work flexibility, especially in the morning, pedal your feet so that you’re stretching one leg then the other. If you feel strong enough and your shoulders are happy, you can gently flow from downward dog straight into plank pose.

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5. Plank

5. Plank

This pose works your upper body and core strength, both of which can decline as we age.

• Start on hands and knees, making sure that wrists are directly under shoulders and hands are engaged.
• For level one, walk back on your knees until there’s a fairly straight line from knees to shoulders. Bring your belly button toward the spine and use your core muscles to keep the hips from sinking. Make sure the wrists are still directly under the shoulders.
• For level two, come off your knees and onto your toes so that the entire body is in a straight line from shoulders to heels.

 

Change it up: If this pose hurts the wrists, come down onto the forearms instead, with hands clasped and elbows under shoulders. Once level two gets easier, challenge yourself by lifting alternating feet for a breath or two each.

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6. Seated twist

6. Seated twist

Twists promote a healthy spine and can relieve back muscles tight from too much sitting.

• Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with spine upright. If you find yourself uncomfortable or slouching, try placing a folded blanket, cushion or yoga block or bolster under your hips.
• Inhale and sit up as straight as possible. On the exhale, twist gently to the right, starting the movement from the base of the spine and letting it flow upward. As you move, place the left hand on the right knee and the right hand behind you for balance. Move the head last and only as far as it can comfortably go without strain.
• On each inhale, lengthen the spine – you will likely move slightly out of the twist. On each exhale, gently twist deeper.
• Return to centre on an inhale, then repeat on the left, making sure to switch the crossing of your legs first.

 

Change it up: For a more relaxing version of this simple pose, try a reclined twist.

 

Thanks to Breathe yoga studio in Toronto for the generous use of their space.


Related:
4 core exercises that don’t involve plank
6 essential cool-down stretches
The ultimate guide to yoga

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5. Plank

6. Seated twist

Twists promote a healthy spine and can relieve back muscles tight from too much sitting.

• Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with spine upright. If you find yourself uncomfortable or slouching, try placing a folded blanket, cushion or yoga block or bolster under your hips.
• Inhale and sit up as straight as possible. On the exhale, twist gently to the right, starting the movement from the base of the spine and letting it flow upward. As you move, place the left hand on the right knee and the right hand behind you for balance. Move the head last and only as far as it can comfortably go without strain.
• On each inhale, lengthen the spine – you will likely move slightly out of the twist. On each exhale, gently twist deeper.
• Return to centre on an inhale, then repeat on the left, making sure to switch the crossing of your legs first.

 

Change it up: For a more relaxing version of this simple pose, try a reclined twist.

 

Thanks to Breathe yoga studio in Toronto for the generous use of their space.


Related:
4 core exercises that don’t involve plank
6 essential cool-down stretches
The ultimate guide to yoga