Yoga: A Fountain of Youth REALLY!

Yoga works. It has been clinically shown to lower blood pressure, increase circulation, build muscle tissue, increase flexibility, relieve stress and stress-related symptoms, and strengthen the respiratory system. Other benefits include relief from symptoms of menopause, counteracting osteoporosis, cleansing of internal organs, energizing the nervous system, balancing out the digestive system and relief from headaches and lower back pain. As a spiritual practice, yoga can be a pathway to greater enlightenment. It benefits the body, mind and soul, and the choice to enjoy those benefits is yours.

Choosing to live a full and active life, and to live it comfortably in your body means taking responsibility for your present physical condition, no matter what it may be. Taking good care of yourself deserves a pat on the back, as well as enjoying the benefits of being stronger and healthier. If you know deep down inside that your physical condition leaves something to be desired, what are you willing to do about it?

As we age, we come to realize that "staying in neutral" regarding our health and vitality is not an option anymore. The days when we could demand that our bodies ski, party or hike ten miles without rebellion and next day repercussions are gone. There is no "neutral" anymore. Its not a matter of "do I feel like exercising," its that everyday we make a choice to become less fit or more fit.

What is your choice in creating the life you want? Are you willing to listen to the messages your body sends you and can you make a commitment to respond to yourself with compassion, love and respect? Health and fitness is a choice. Aging does not automatically mean weakness, pain and degeneration. How do you want to feel? How can you live life to the fullest if you're dealing with discomfort or pain? Through yoga you can tune in to your body and create a life of strength, vitality, flexibility, and relaxation. You can choose to live a more dynamic and inner-directed life.

For 5000 years, yoga has been a path to health and living consciously in these bodies we inhabit. Here, in the West, we're just discovering what has been known in India for thousands of years ? that yoga is a personal "fountain of youth." Through yoga, we can increase our physical vitality, mental clarity, and heighten our spiritual awareness, regardless of our age or physical condition.

Would you enjoy your body serving you more comfortably and with greater strength? Have you heard your body talk to you lately? Yoga is a training in listening to our bodies. By tuning in through awareness of our breath, through conscious movement in the poses and in the transitions between the poses, we can receive an amazing amount of information from our bodies.

The stuck places, the places where energy is blocked, cause us discomfort in order to get our attention. What is that "stuck place" in your body trying to tell you? Yoga helps you tune in and focus your mind on the area of discomfort or contraction. You can mentally go inside it, breathe into the area, expand it with your breath, then relax, open your mind and ask your body what the stuck area is trying to tell you. Be open to the message. When you receive and accept the message is when the healing begins, and your body will tell you that too. The discomfort will begin to melt away, the blockage will open up and you'll feel free!

I teach a gentle, yet very effective beginning yoga program especially designed for seniors I have been amazed at how quickly so many seniors, even those who have never done any exercise before, have positive results from just two hours of yoga a week. "Yoga for the Young at Heart" is a soothing and healing practice. It creates a format for you to tune in to your body and consciously, with great respect for inevitable limitations, build strength, stamina, flexibility and vitality.

It's from this place of living life to the fullest, of respecting and nurturing ourselves, that we become relaxed and comfortable. When we are whole and at peace, that's when our true potential can be expressed. That's when we create peace within, in our relationships and in all the corners of our world.

We are incredible, powerful spirits having a physical experience. The quality of that experience is in our hands.

Have you heard this before? "You are responsible for your experience!"

Ancient yogis in India took that to an extreme. Imagine choosing to sit naked in the snow and creating such energy within your body that, not only would you not be cold, but steam would rise off your body from the heat you generated!

We choose our experiences, too. Are you "sitting in the snow" in some area of your life? Do you choose to sit there and shiver and moan about how cold you are? OR do you choose to gather your energy, your internal fire and radiate such joy and love around you that you transform your experience and that of everyone around you?

That is the yoga of life, and it begins right here, with your personal yoga practice. Carl Sagan asked, "Why are we here?" I think I've discovered why we're here! To remember why we're here! Why are you here?

I believe we're here to grow into our most healthy, creative, and joyful selves, and to create peace and harmony in our corners of the world.

Susan Winter Ward, internationally recognized yoga instructor, author, and video producer, is the creator of Yoga for the Young at Heart™, a multimedia publisher which publishes an informative and inspiring collection of CDRoms, videos, audio tapes, books and television programs, as well as exciting vacation retreats. Her product line is available at: Yoga for the Young at Heart

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