You are Only as Young as Your Spine is Flexible

It’s a yogic philosophy which I suspect is correct. Is anybody still fooled by this age-as-chronological passing of time idea? We all went through school with one or two kids who steered their life path toward complete self-destruction. A decade or two later, they no longer look any where near our age. And they’re not, on a cellular level. Their emotional age on the other hand, could be used to count the hours on Pluto. Age is complex.

Maybe the flexibility of our spine will better determine how old we really are.

There are eighty-five year olds who shuffle their feet and take two full minutes to sit down. There are eighty-five year olds who practice tai chi or garden for hours every day and basically do what they’ve always done, albeit a little slower. As in most things, the end game is merely a testimony to the choices made before we sacrificed the pawns and brought the queen out early.

Flexibility can’t be bought. No plastic surgeon has it on their menu. Only the daily attendance to your body, extending the muscle groups with full, unforced breaths will maintain the flexiblity in muscles that ordinarily prefer the crumpled, squished* position. (*technical term)

Body is not stiff, mind is stiff ~ B.K.S Iyengar

Do people still argue that the body and the mind are two islands unto themselves and use the word unto? It’s easy enough to notice how your mind changes when you practice yoga, and how the body changes when we argue. We should really stop arguing. I’m game if you’re game. Okay great! Wow that was easy.

What becomes of somebody’s body when they never ease off with the conflict?

One obvious change happens when we transition from assured and flexible with our thoughts and our world, to fearful and insecure with our place in the world: we stiffen. It’s a natural response to the odd geometry of a rapidly changing world, no? Stress hormones arrive with their luggage to call these bodies home. They dine on telomeres (the caps of our DNA strands), a delicacy which costs their host a few years of their life.

Reverse The Stiffening End the Fearing

Nothing beats time on the yoga mat when we want to soften and bend. Breath is the key that will create space in the universe within. Fear, on the other hand, can be even more illusive to seize and disarm. Fear lives in the far lands of past and future, beyond the moment that we are experiencing now. The only way to effectively disempower this dastardly miscreant is to reel in the mind and bring it back to the present moment. Meditation will knock the future and the past out of your mind like nothing else can. Track your thoughts in the other 23 and a half hours of the day and make it heel. While you’re at it, attain enlightenment and increase the function of your DNA – because if you can track your thoughts you can do anything. It’s the final frontier of our consciousness.

 Posture

Good posture effects your state of mind. If you sit with your spine straight, you are more likely to remember positive memories or think positive thoughts. It is also proven that an upright posture changes your hormone levels. Stress hormones like cortisol diminish while testosterone levels increase. It so happens that this hormone combination is linked to positive leadership abilities and disease resistance.

Watch this inspiring Ted talk with social psychologist Amy Cuddy. She explains how posture alters our hormones and, amazingly, affect our professional success. It’s 21 minutes and definatley worth a bookmark.

My mother’s mild scoliosis was a gift in that it made me very aware of posture. Her bent spine worsened as the decades passed; eventually she was the unfortunate owner of an impressive kyphosis (hunchback). For a visual reminder to keep my shoulders down and wide, nothing beats my mother.

Use It or Lose It: Stay Flexible For Life

Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong and stretching slows down the process of the body’s natural degeneration process when they increase muscle and tendon circulation, and maintain elasticity to the spine. They also remove tension from our mind and body, strengthen our muscles, reduce excess weight, and correct our posture. It’s crazy what powerful effect these art forms have on all aspects of our existence.

The chemistry in your body will change in your body in as little as 15 minutes of practicing one of these meditative exercises. That’s the same amount of time it takes to eat a cheese burger, a very large cheese burger; it’s nothing (especially because I would never eat a cheese burger).  In return you get the world – literally – for  a few more years.

Related Research Papers:

Theraputic effects of yoga

Effects of yoga on psychological profile

Consequences of Fear

 

 

 

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