How yoga makes you younger, taller and raises your IQ
“You look like a ballerina, you move like a ballerina” the shop assistant said to me as I passed by her counter. I flushed with gratitude at her spontaneous compliment. “I’ve been practising yoga for 22 years” I replied. “that might have something to do with it!”
If you’re not already a practising yogini like me (or yogi if you’re a guy), then you’re probably sick of hearing about yoga in so much social media these days. Along with gluten-free, lactose-intolerant, vegan and dairy-free, it gets a bit monotonous, doesn’t it? All those holier-than-thou peeps who think they’ve got the keys to the universe? Bloody hippies!
Well let me tell you, yoga is my personal key to the universe. A yoga virgin when I first moved to Byron Bay in 1997 (the hippie capital of the world), my first attempts were during my pregnancy, gingerly bending in and out of cat-cow position in a rainbow tie-died T-shirt stretched over my bulging baby belly.
Later, a physical trainer boyfriend encouraged me to keep up with his advanced yoga practice, making me hold inverted positions for several minutes at a time (which I suspect was more for his entertainment/benefit than mine).
Several years later, classes with Maria at Yoga For Grown Ups had me addicted, when I realised how much backache relief I was getting from twists and stretches that no physiotherapist or massage therapist had ever shown me.
Feeling more and more powerful and flexible as the years flowed by, I began to think I needed to be “good” at yoga. After pushing myself through more advanced (and way too early in the morning) classes at Byron Bay Yoga, it finally dawned on me that it didn’t matter what I looked like in my poses, what others were doing on their mats, or how “good” I was at it. All that mattered was how I felt inside me.
And then I moved to Paris. Where classes were triple the price that I paid in Australia. Where no instructor made any soothing “hands-on” adjustments to my cold, stiff, aching body. And where I struggled to interpret the french instructor, wondering how I got to be upside-down, inside-out and back-to-front on my mat, swearing merde under my breath.
For the first time in 19 years, I quit formal classes and got back to my hippie roots. I bought a purple yoga mat and two pink foam blocks from the nearest Decathlon sports store and developed my own humble home practice. Where no french instructor could criticise me for putting my right leg on my left knee instead of my left knee on my right knee.
I haven’t stopped my practise in 22 years and never will, and do you know why? Because yoga keeps me young, upright, pain-free, illness-free … and at peace in life when the merde hits the fan.
Who wants to struggle getting in and out of a car as you get older? Or have to sit on a chair to put your shoes or socks on, when you could simply stand on one leg to do it? Not me! Yoga helps me stay pliable, strong and poised - all my life long.
During my yoga sequence, I’ve learnt to keep my face in a state of calm with a gentle smile, helping me do the same within my body as I move through my poses. When you remain poised externally, you do the same for your state of mind. As without, so within!
A regular yoga practice tones all your body muscles, keeping skin from sagging and minimising wrinkles.
How would you like a natural face lift without botox or surgery? Twisting poses like Half Lord of the Fishes improve digestion and keep your liver clean, aiding skin health. Facial yoga gently massages your face, keeping it supple, strong and preventing new wrinkles from forming.
Have you ever noticed how some people move with an innate ease, fluidity and grace that others don’t have? That’s something that comes naturally from a regular yoga practice!
You can’t grow an extra vertebra, but you can offset vertebra compaction and natural degeneration with yoga.
Create more space between your vertebrae with forward folding poses like Downward Facing Dog which stretch out your spine, adding an extra inch or more to your height.
Your IQ isn’t set at birth, and can be improved during your lifetime. Gently guiding yourself ever more deeply into a variety of poses in a regular yoga practice, new neural pathways are formed that help stretch and strengthen the brain through practice and persistence.
The combination of meditation, chanting, deep breathing and postures of a yoga practice has now been clinically proven to increase oxygen to the brain, improving :
attention and focus
problem solving skills
need more reasons to love yoga?
When you bend your body, your mind becomes flexible.
When you balance your body you become internally poised.
When you hold a pose, you develop stamina.
When you stretch your body, you stretch your mind.
When you strengthen your body, your soul does not break.