March 31, 2014
March 31, 2014
Yoga: A Natural Facelift
It’s true! Yoga can actually prevent signs of aging. Yoga naturally improves your circulation, balance and flexibility. The practice of yoga also relieves stress, which in turn gives you a natural face lift!
Want to stay youthful? Try this short series of anti-aging yoga poses. Practice each pose, in the following order, at least three times a week. For the best results, repeat daily.
Move in to every pose with your breath. Any time you are lifting your heart to the sky, you inhale. When you lower your heart to the floor, exhale. Go with your breath at a relaxed, enjoyable pace.
Breathe deep and loud, using your entire torso. Inhale through your nose, expanding your belly, lungs and ribs. Exhale through your nose, letting your belly cave toward your spine, ribs fall in like an accordion.
Grab your block, a pillow, a mat and pick a comfortable, inviting space in your home.
Let’s get started!
1. Standing Forward Fold to Half Lift
Benefit: Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression; warms the spine
Stand with your feet together, toes forward, and knees slightly bent. Relax your arms at your sides, palms facing in. Inhale and raise your arms in front of you (palms up) until overhead. Exhale, fold at the hips, bring your hands to your shins/toes/floor, lowering your chest to rest on your thighs. Inhale, lift your chest and roll your shoulders back and down. Spine is parallel to your mat, look straight ahead and breathe deeply. Exhale, forward fold. Inhale and rise, bringing your arms overhead; exhale and lower arms to sides. Repeat three times.
Benefit: Stretches the ankles, groins and back torso; Tones the belly
Widen your step to slightly larger than hip width apart. Rotate your feet facing outward about 45 degrees. Keep your heels on the floor. Separate your thighs slightly wider than your torso. Exhale, lean your torso forward and lower your hips to be in line with your ankles. Press your elbows against your inner knees, bringing your palms together at heart’s center (Salutation Seal – Anjali Mudra). Pushing your elbows against your inner thighs will help lengthen your front torso. Hold the position for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then inhale, straighten the knees, and stand into Uttanasana.
3. Downward Facing Dog
Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana
Benefit: Energizes the body; Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
Come to all fours. Place your wrists directly under your shoulders, keeping the arms straight. Place your knees on the mat, directly under the hips. Your toes are pressing in to the mat. Lift your hips to the sky, straightening your legs. Have a soft bend in your knees to support your lower back. Ground down through your hands, pressing equally on all fours. Extend the spine in opposite directions. Index fingers are parallel. Breathe.
4. Warrior II
Sanskrit: Virabhadrasana II
Benefit: Increases stamina; Strengthens and stretches legs, glutes, abs, and arms
Stand with your feet apart, right foot toes perpendicular the edge of your mat and left foot turned in slightly (~45 degree angle). Keep your torso and hips facing forward. Exhale and bend your right knee at a 90 degree angle. Be sure that your knee is in line with your ankle. Inhale and raise your arms out to the side. Turn your head to the right and hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Keep your gaze at your right middle finger.
5. Extended Side Angle
Sanskrit: Utthita Parsvakonasana
Benefit: Stimulates abdominal organs; Stretches the groins, spine, waist, chest and lungs, and shoulders
From Warrior II position, exhale and place your right forearm on your right thigh and raise your left arm overhead. Look toward the sky and hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Inhale and rise back to Warrior II pose. Exhale and straighten your right leg.
Repeat Warrior II and Side Angle on the left side.
Benefit: Improves sense of balance; strengthens feet, legs, glutes, and abs
Stand with your feet together, toes forward. Place the sole of your right foot on the inside of your left thigh, your calf (not on the knee joint) or the inside of your ankle, with the toes of your right foot lightly touching the floor. Place your hands in prayer position (Salutation Seal – Anjali Mudra) in front of your chest and look straight ahead. Hold for 15 seconds.
Inhale and extend arms overhead, keeping your hands together (or keep your hands in front of your chest). Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Exhale and lower your arms and leg. Repeat, balancing on the right leg.
Benefit: Improves posture; strengthens lower back, chest, and arms
Lie facedown on your mat, with your legs together, elbows tucked against your ribs. Place your hands on the mat pointing forward. Inhale and press your palms and forearms down as you lift your chest and head, drawing your ears away from your shoulders, keeping your elbows under your shoulders. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Exhale and relax down to the mat. Repeat.
8. Child’s Pose
Benefit: Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue
Slide your hands beneath shoulders. Push up, bend knees, and sit back on your heels, lowering your chest to your thighs and your head toward the floor. Keep your arms stretched out in front. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
Child’s Pose is home base. You can take this pose at any time during your practice to regain a rejuvenating breathe.
9. Half lord of the fishes
Sanskrit: Ardha Matsyendrasana
Benefit: Stimulates the liver and the kidneys; Relieves menstrual discomfort, fatigue, sciatica, and backache
Sit with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your knees, put your feet on the floor, then slide your left foot under your right leg to the outside of your right hip. Lay the outside of the left leg on the floor. Step the right foot over the left knee so that your right heel grazes the outside of the left knee. Inhale, lengthening your spine and lifting your arms overhead. Exhale and twist gently to the right, lower your left hand to your outer right thigh. Place your right hand at the base of your spine to straighten your back. Look over your right shoulder. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
With each inhalation, lengthen the spine; with each exhalation, twist a little farther. On an exhalation, return to the center, and repeat, twisting to the left.
10. Inverted L
Sanskrit: Viparita Karani
Benefit: Relieves tired or cramped legs and feet; Gently stretches the back legs, front torso, and the back of the neck; Relieves mild backache
Come to the wall. Lie on your back, facing the wall. Carefully position yourself so your glutes touch the base of the wall and your legs are resting against the wall. Your feet should be about 12 inches apart and relaxed. Angle your arms out to the sides, palms up. Your hips should be slightly higher than your chest (if not, use a pillow). Close your eyes and breathe deeply for at least 1 minute.
Skip this pose if you are menstruating or have high blood pressure, glaucoma, or a neck injury.
When practicing yoga, you open yourself up to vulnerability. Vulnerability is opening your heart space to allow you to grow and be authentic. Be patient with your vulnerability. Patience with your practice will allow you to learn and grow with each pose.