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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
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.