You are the thoughts you keep thinking. If you believe you’re old, then your body will begin to believe it too. Your mind is a powerful tool; be sure you use it to help rather than hinder your body’s natural ageing process.
Let’s get real. We all have that magic number. The number that makes you stop and say, “Oh, wow, I’m turning that this year?”
That age, whether it’s 30 or 70, starts a nagging feeling in the back of the mind. Do I have to act my age now?
It sits in the mind like a disease and allows for all kinds of negative self-talk, “My back aches all the time now, because I’m old,” or, “I can’t lose weight like I used to when I was young.” The excuses begin to pile up into attitudes that the body absorbs and manifests until our bodies match our thoughts.
How Yoga Helps You Look Younger
“Yoga is the fountain of youth – you’re only as young as your spine is flexible.”
Consider the mantra of the famous 96-year-old yoga instructor, Tao Porchon-Lynch, “Nothing’s impossible. Whatever you want to do in life, you can do it.” Yes, I quoted the world’s oldest yoga teacher, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2012. Feel silly about judging your own age now?
Along with daily stretching, meditation, and conscious breathing, Porchon-Lynch has become the poster woman for defying age as we define it. A yoga practitioner for 70 years, started dancing competitively at age 87 and marched with Mahatma Gandhi (twice!).
“You have the answer to everything in you,” she said, “And most importantly of all, don’t let anybody tell you you’re getting old.”
Sound crazy? Consider the study Psychologist John Bargh did (Binazir, Ali in The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Being Absolutely Irresistible). In his study, participants were asked to make lists of words by subject that were jumbled. One test contained words like ‘old’ and ‘wrinkled’, and the other group did not contain those words.
He then measured the amount of time it took the participants to leave the test area and get to the front door. The participants with the words relating to old age moved 30% slower than those who did not have such words. They actually behaved as if they had aged just from reading and absorbing those words!
Psychologist Ellen Langer of Harvard (Binazir, Ali in The Tao of Dating) tested two groups of patients in a retirement home. One she played music from the time period when they were younger, and included clothes and other items that would remind them of their youth.
When she did physical exams on each of the groups after, she found the group with the items from their youthful days had tighter skin, decreased joint pain, improved eyesight, better muscle strength, and higher bone density than the other group!
What can we take from this? You create your own reality. Surround yourself with things that make for a positive environment, and remove any toxic thoughts that might oppose your positive mindset.
It’s time we take back our beliefs, which are just thoughts we keep thinking, and turn them into a youth elixir. Porchon-Lynch reminds us, “When you’re at one with it there is no fear attached. Fear is bad medicine. With inner peace, you are “at one” with the whole universe.”
She’s recently suffered a full hip replacement and broken wrist, but even that doesn’t stop her from living life with a positive outlook and re-defining age.
“Every morning I get up and I don’t think about what I’m going to do tomorrow, or today, or what I did yesterday,” she said. “I think it’s going to be the best day of my life.”
Patricia Walden, popular from the Yoga DVD, Yoga for Beginners, said to Yoga Journal in 2009, “Sometimes I’ll wake up stiff and wonder what my body will feel like if I start doing backbends. Then I begin practicing, and I forget that I’m 62. Twenty minutes into my practice, I feel younger. Inevitably, the power of yoga takes over and you feel ageless!”
Bette Calman of Australia was interviewed in 2011 when she was 83 and taught 11 classes a week. She stated to them, “Yoga keeps you young… never have I gone to a yoga class and wished I was somewhere else because I know I’m going to come out feeling on top of the world. There’ll always be yoga.”
How you feel inside is reflected directly on your skin on the outside. When you’re happy, you glow. Blows from what could be negative situations don’t affect you as much.
Yoga is an important vehicle for obtaining that happy glow.
“Yoga is the joining of our mind, body and spirit,” says Porchon-Lynch. “I find that I can heal myself if I do what nature does. It’s taken away stress and has helped me through crises.” Her work centers around the transformative power of yoga.
Apply Mindfulness to Your Own Life
Ignore everything society tells you about getting older. Everything. Aging does not automatically mean a decline in health or looks. Positive thinking affects our bodies just as much, if not more than a number.
“I look at films of the demos I made when I was in my 30’s and 40’s. I did a demo for my 50th and 60th birthdays.” Calman again reminds us the power of our minds in relation to age, “My poses are better, more integrated, than when I was younger. My flexibility and strength are more balanced, as are my effort and relaxation.”
These women prove it’s silly to worry about the number of your next birthday. It doesn’t matter.
The next time someone asks your age, drink the youth elixir that we are the thoughts we keep thinking. Simply reply as a nearly century-wise yoga instructor would, “Don’t go by age. It means nothing.”
You look younger already.
About The Author
Azahar Aguilar was born in Mexico and raised in Minnesota. She’s a culture-holic wanderer, international yoga instructor, writer, and content marketing consultant for creatives and healers. She worked at Blue Osa Yoga Resort + Spa in Costa Rica during the first half of 2015. Read about her travels through 28 countries and counting on Leap of Faith Life, find out more at AzaharAguilar.com or connect with her on Instagram or Twitter.