Have you heard the phrase “Seventy is the new sixty”? As a society, we are enjoying longer life spans, thanks to increased health awareness, better medical interventions, and proactive preventative measures.
However, even though we may live longer, we may not enjoy our later years, unless we take steps to ensure that we stay functional enough to engage in all the activities that make life worth living.
Why do we lose mobility over time, and how can we counteract this tendency? In this free download, renowned yoga teacher Doug Keller, a leading expert on the structural and therapeutic aspects of yoga, talks about ways yoga can help support health and mobility throughout the entirety of our lives.
Many of the physical limitations that emerge with aging, Doug explains, result because the constant pull of gravity causes a narrowing of the spaces in the body, between the bones, and in the joints. The result over time is structural wear and tear in the fascia, ligaments, and bones, which leads to inflammatory issues such as osteoarthritis and joint pain.
This sets up a vicious cycle: When movement becomes painful, we move less, but that only further compounds the problem.
“Avoiding movement short-circuits the process by which the body heals itself. Once we start moving less, the problems of pain increase and we get caught in a vicious cycle,” says Doug. “So, you have to find ways to maintain movement in the body and not just movement per se, but a wide variety of movement to keep the joints healthy.”
One thing that makes yoga an ideal component of healthy aging, Doug notes, is that yoga takes the body through every plane and variety of motion, while avoiding extreme ranges that may cause more harm.
Movement has numerous beneficial effects: It promotes healthy range-of-motion in the joints, insures proper hydration and resilience in the fascial system, and helps us to cultivate the correct balance between strength and length in our muscles sufficient to keep the space between the bones and reduce those problems of osteoarthritis and basic joint deteriorations that come with age.
What makes yoga ideal for counteracting the aging process is that regular yoga practice enables us to become more attuned to the cues of the body, so we can better adjust our movement practices to the body’s needs and capacity.
“Yoga is a practice in which you listen more closely to the body,” says Doug. “You learn from the body and learn to move in a way that makes you feel more healthy and alive, to experience well-being.”
Doug further discusses common causes of specific joint issues in the knees and how we can use yoga to counterbalance these.
You might also enjoy Doug’s course, Yoga for Healthy Knees: Keys to Retaining Lifelong Mobility.