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November 13, 2011

Dirty Little Yoga Secrets. ~ Maria Santoferraro

Photo: Bethany Carlson

Well, maybe I’m exaggerating about the dirty part.

Honestly, today I’m going to let you in on a pretty freakin’ cool secret.

Are you ready?

Yoga keeps you young, exuberant and full of life.

But don’t just listen to me; here’s a direct quote from Tari Prinster – a New York City yoga teacher and cancer survivor – from the documentary YOGAWOMAN:

What yoga has done for me is slow down the aging process. Maybe it’s one of the secrets of yoga – it is really the fountain of youth.

For all of you bratty youngsters under thirty, you’re probably ready to click to the next article, but before you do, just remember that gravity happens. The gray hair, wrinkles and sagging ass will eventually find you too, so don’t fight them. Learn to embrace this aging thing now with the help of my dirty little secret weapon.

When you practice yoga, there is a focus on standing up tall and breathing. When we elongate the spine and breathe deeply, it opens up the lungs and increases the ability for oxygen to get to the cells that feed our bodies. When the cells have a lack of oxygen (due to things like inactivity and slouching), they slowly begin to die, and that is what causes the aging process.

Practicing yoga brings suppleness to the muscles, increases flexibility in the spine, gets rid of stress and tension in the body, firms up your skin, corrects poor posture and aids in improving balance. Now that, my friends, is one hell of a laundry list of benefits!

When I first started practicing yoga, I caught onto this secret pretty quick and I’ve been drinking the yoga fountain of youth through a fire hose ever since. I’ve seen people in my family go through knee surgery, back surgery and shoulder surgery, which is more than enough to light a fire under my ass to keep up a solid yoga practice. No hip replacements for me; I’m planning on keeping those hips happy (and sometimes screaming) well into my eighties with plenty of hip openers like pigeon pose.

If you think you are too old for yoga, it’s time to get rid of the excuses. Bette Calman, a personal role model of mine, is 83 years young, is still teaching yoga, and can rock some yoga poses like peacock that I am still trying to master. To quote Bette,

You’re never too old. The body is a remarkable instrument. It can stretch and stretch and get better all the time. Forget age.

I think one of the best reasons why yoga helps slow down the aging process is simply in the way it can make you feel good about yourself. When you can move more easily, get out of bed without aches and pains and start to feel your body become more flexible each and every time you go to the yoga mat, that feeling — that yoga high as I like to call it — is more effective than any of those high priced skin creams.

Some people come just for the psychological space, to be softer and more connected to themselves in a less busy and non-striving way. All of those are wonderful motivations to practice, and what can surface out of the repetition of doing this simple activity is that our overall health becomes of a higher quality and I literally think that the aging process can become one of gracious acceptance.

~ Sarah Powers, Insight Yoga Institute, from the documentary YOGAWOMAN

I’m pushing fifty and don’t give a damn ‘cause this yoga stuff has my body and my mind feeling mighty fine. I’ll be busy for the next fifty years or so, yoga mat in hand, graciously accepting the aging process and fighting off the dreaded turkey neck with the revolutionary age-defying tonic called yoga.

Want more dirt? Check out Karmela Lejarde’s Dirty Little Ashtanga Secrets and leave your very own dirty little yoga secret in the comments below. I’ve got a few more confessions I’d love to divulge, so hopefully the cool peeps at elephant journal will let me dish again.

 

Maria Santoferraro
I used to be a stressed out corporate executive, but now I’m a blissed out yoga teacher addicted to the yoga high. I like demystifying yoga, sharing cool yoga music, and practicing downward dogs on the beautiful shores of Lake Erie. Go from stressed out to blissed out on my blog The Daily Downward Dog, or by connecting with me on Twitter and Facebook.

 

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