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This issue’s cover model Amy Ippoliti shows us how to move from Supta Padangusthasana to Ardha Chandra Chapasana.  We give you a sneak peak here, you can find the whole practice in the latest issue. Supta 
Padangusthasana Supta = Reclining · Pada = Foot 
Angusta = Big toe · Asana = Pose Reclining Hand-to-Big Toe Pose BENEFITS 

Safely opens your hamstrings and releases your lower back when performed with a healthy lumbar curve

INSTRUCTION

1 Lie on your back with your legs together, feet flexed, as if standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Breathe steadily.

2 Anchor your inner thighs toward the floor; arch your lower back away from the floor—enough so that you can pass your hand under the small of your back.

3 Without flattening the curve in your lower back, bend your left knee and lift it into your chest. Hold your left thigh with both hands clasped near your knee. Anchor your right inner thigh to the mat to help keep the lumbar curve intact. Pushing your left thigh away from your chest can help maintain the curve as well.

4 Start to straighten your left leg toward the ceiling. If it trembles, or if you can’t straighten it easily, use a strap around the arch of your foot and position your leg farther away from your upper body so you can straighten your leg without strain (see this and additional modifications on page 64). Keep the muscles in both legs engaged and strong. 

5 Test your hamstring flexibility by drawing your leg closer to your chest, keeping 
it straight while maintaining a natural lumbar curve in your low back. If your back starts to flatten, you’ve reached your edge and should back off slightly. Hold this pose for 5 breaths, and then slowly release your left leg to the floor; repeat on the other side.

Dont’s

don’t flatten your lumbar curve or press your lower spine into the mat. Doing so reduces the stretch in your hamstrings and may cause a flattening of your lumbar spine over time, which 
is unhealthy for your lower back.

don’t perform the pose with your top leg bent, which minimizes the stretch in your hamstrings. Instead, move your leg away from your chest until you can straighten it comfortably.

Get the whole practice in the latest issue of Yoga Journal.  Current issue on sale now at all Coles supermarket or subscribe to receive our latest offer of buy one year and get two more issues free. 

The post Balancing Act appeared first on Australian Yoga Journal.

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If you haven’t already experienced the soothing powers of yoga firsthand, there’s ample evidence to support adding the practice to your pain-fighting arsenal. Neck pain

Meditation may be the answer to easing recurring or chronic neck pain, a 2o15 study in The Journal of Pain 
suggests. Researchers found that a majority of study 
participants who experienced chronic neck pain reported 
a significant reduction in pain and pain-related complaints after eight weeks of jyoti meditation practice, 
a traditional Indian meditation technique involving the repetition of mantras and focus on the third eye.

“Chronic pain is frequently associated with distress, and neck pain specifically is related to high levels of stress,” says Andreas Michalsen, M.D., one of the study researchers and a professor at Charité University Berlin. He hypothesizes that any of a variety of meditation forms shown to relieve stress, including mindfulness meditation, could offer similar benefits for pain relief by modulating neurobiological pain signals and pathways in the brain.

In other words, meditation essentially eliminates the suffering related to pain.

Chronic pain

Combining the mindful practice of yoga and meditation with traditional medical treatment can help chronic pain sufferers find more relief than medicine alone, according to research conducted by 
Patrick Randolph, Ph.D., at Texas Tech University. His study followed 78 patients with chronic pain, which unlike acute pain, is often not associated with a particular injury and can come and go over months or even years with no pattern. In addition to whatever medical treatment they were undergoing before, during, and after the study, the participants attended several cycles of two-hour classes that used gentle poses with an emphasis on mindfulness. They were also required to meditate for a minimum of 45 minutes per day, six days per week, with the aid of an audiocassette tape. Afterward, 79 percent said their condition somewhat or greatly improved.

“Most people who experience chronic pain also experience depression or anxiety,” says Randolph, former director of psychological services at the International Pain Institute at Texas Tech University’s Health and Science Center. “So when we treat chronic pain, we need to treat both the body and the mind at the same time.”

Read the full story in the latest issue of Yoga Journal.  We explore eight types of pain and how they might benefit from enlisting your yoga mat or meditation cushion, all backed by science. Latest issue on sale now at all Coles supermarket or subscribe to receive our latest offer of buy one year and get two more issues free. 

The post Yog-ahhhhhhhh appeared first on Australian Yoga Journal.

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There’s a tool at your local Bunnings that can be the perfect yoga prop to support a strong and healthy back—especially if you suffer from pain or other issues.

By Alison West

Decades ago my Iyengar teacher brought out short wooden dowels as props for Salamba Sirsasana (Supported Headstand). That immediately sparked my interest in this tool and how it might be used in other ways in class. I bought a dozen 1.5-metre wooden broom handles—and later bought shorter and longer versions—to experiment with.

Dowels, small-diameter rods of any length—made of wood, metal, or plastic—have become some of my favourite props because they’re so versatile. They provide alignment feedback, gentle leverage, and traction (stretching your spine) to relieve pressure and help you lengthen muscles and release joints. And they can be a point of resistance, a tool for core work, an aid to balance, and more. Dowels can support sound posture and be used creatively to allow you to experience poses in novel ways.

If you experience back pain, a dowel is particularly useful because it can help you discover safer movement patterns to protect your back. These new patterns can prevent compression of your spine during core work, forward bends, and side bends (lateral flexions)—allowing you to lengthen and strengthen your muscles without causing additional strain.

You can think of a dowel as an external representation of your midline to help you find strong axial extension, which is a full lengthening of your spine. For example, if you place the dowel in front of you and close to your body in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and pull down on it, your chest will lift and your spine will lengthen. For those with back pain due to disc problems, this action lessens pressure on intervertebral discs and nerve roots. A dowel can also offer stable support on the floor at one end while allowing safe movement and traction at the other end in poses such as Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose) or Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend). And it can offer ease in poses such as Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose), since not as much range of motion is required when you use a dowel.

I now teach with a two-metre dowel with a 3cm diameter, but you can use a shorter dowel—such paint-roller pole or broom handle—for most poses. A two-metre dowel is best for Revolved Side Angle Pose or Utkatasana (Chair Pose).

To experience the soothing, stabilising benefits of yoga with a dowel, make a trip to the Bunnings (or your garage), then try this sequence. (If you are experiencing back pain, make sure to check in with your doctor before trying anything new.)

Inside the latest issue is we show you poses using the dowel prop.  The latest issue is on sale now at all Coles supermarket or subscribe now to get 2 bonus issues when you subscribe for a year.

The post Spine Support appeared first on Australian Yoga Journal.

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Strawberry–Tomato–Mozzarella pasta salad serves 6

A delicious blend of tangy tomatoes, sweet berries, and a savory sauce hit all the right flavour notes. 

12     oz quinoa pasta

2/3   cup 2-percent plain Greek yogurt

3       tbsp apple cider vinegar

2       tbsp poppy seeds

1       tbsp olive oil

½      tsp garlic salt

½      tsp onion powder

         Olive oil cooking spray

100 grams asparagus, thinly sliced

100  grams watercress

1       punnet of strawberries, sliced

200  grams cherry tomatoes

200 grams mozzarella, cubed

1       small red onion, thinly sliced

¼      cup packed basil

Cook pasta as directed. In a bowl, whisk yogurt, vinegar, poppy seeds, oil, garlic salt, and onion powder. In a skillet coated with cooking spray, cook asparagus over medium heat, 4 minutes. Combine pasta, sauce, asparagus, and watercress; top with remaining ingredients.

NUTRITIONAL INFO 411 calories per serving, 11 g fat (5 g saturated), 61 g carbs, 8 g fibre, 19 g protein, 388 mg sodium

Read more summer-fresh pasta salad recipes in the latest issue of Yoga Journal available at all Coles Supermarkets or subscribe on line with our special offer buy a one-year subscription and receive two free additional issues.

The post Craving Carbs? Indulge in this Delish Vegetarian pasta dish for some Monday love appeared first on Australian Yoga Journal.

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As we know, near-death experiences can create a completely fresh perspective on one’s life, propelling us into deeper levels of self-awareness and evolution. But did you know that it’s possible to create this same mental experience without having to almost die? A recent study, published in Mindfulness, suggests that Buddhist meditators can willfully induce near-death experiences, enjoying the insights that come as a result. The study’s author William Van Gordon of the University of Derby said that some advanced Buddhist meditation practitioners could harness the experience of near-death, “fostering insight into the psychology of death-related processes as well as the nature of self and reality more generally.” Unlike actual near-death experiences, meditators were consciously aware of the experience and had control over it. Compared to other forms of meditation, the near-death practice dramatically increased mystical experiences and feelings of non-attachment. For more details of the study, search ‘Meditation-Induced-Near-Death Experiences: a 3-Year Longitudinal Study.’

Read more in the latest issue of Australian Yoga Journal available at all Coles Supermarkets or subscribe now with latest offer of 10 issues for the price of 8.

The post Buddhists Induce Near Death appeared first on Australian Yoga Journal.

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When yoga and Artificial Intelligence combine so we don’t need to leave our cozy homes to reap the rewards of a timeless tradition. Smart activewear company, Pivot Yoga, has launched a set of leggings and a shirt featuring motion technology that, when combined with an app, allows yogis to see and correct their alignment. With 16 sensors, each the size of a 10 cent piece, the user’s movement is tracked and compared to a standard position to ensure perfect posture. CEO & Co-founder of TurningSense and developer of Pivot Yoga said, “Our vision is really big. It’s not just to be the Netflix…of yoga – we want to build a whole new, interactive, and completely customised way to learn and practice.” Just what the yoga world needs? See www.pivot.yoga for more.

Read more in the latest issue of Australian Yoga Journal available at all Coles Supermarkets or subscribe now with latest offer of 10 issues for the price of 8

The post Finally, the day we’ve all been waiting for… appeared first on Australian Yoga Journal.

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From how to choose your training to how it will change your life, Jessica Humphries dives into all things YTT 

It’s been seven years since I completed my first yoga teacher training, and I can’t begin to describe just how much it turned my world upside down. My regular yoga practice invited self-enquiry, and a new way of looking at life began to shimmer through the cracks of my existence. As I delved into this new perspective I uncovered a whole new relationship with my self and the world around me, inspiring me to take the next step to becoming a teacher.  

I’m sure you can relate. Maybe you’re at a time in your life where you’re beginning to see things from a new perspective too. Maybe you’re dreaming of an alternative to the nine-to-five grind. Or maybe you’re just trying to find your way, and the practice of yoga has reveled a glimmer of hope that you trust with every fibre of your being. But here you are. Thinking about becoming a yoga teacher. And when you look back on these moments in years to come, they will be the moments that changed your life.  

PREPARING FOR YOUR YTT  How many years of yoga practice do you need? 

Students are often required to have a consistent practice for at least two years before they can be accepted into a YTT, although it really depends on the organisation and you. Being a student of yoga and a teacher are two very different things. But what is most important is that you have genuinely been touched by the practice, are interested in its roots and philosophies, are curious about the body and have a desire to share from a humble and authentic place.   

How advanced does your yoga practice need to be? 

Right before I began my first YTT I felt really nervous because I couldn’t do Crow Pose. My practice was simple and accessible, and it has remained that way. As a teacher, I’ve found this to be a huge blessing. Having a body that doesn’t easily morph into pretzels allows you to relate much more easily to your students. If you’ve been injured in the past, you will know experientially how to modify poses for those who are physically vulnerable. Despite social media portrayals, having a perfect backbend or handstand practice is not a prerequisite for teaching yoga.  

The most important consideration when choosing your training is that you resonate with the teachers and their style of yoga.

How to choose your training 

Firstly, completing a registered 200-hour course is the minimum requirement to receive insurance – a condition of teaching almost anywhere. Many people choose an intensive yoga teacher training in an exotic location as an opportunity to combine a holiday with their learning. And while this sounds very romantic, there’s going to be very little time to explore your surrounds while you focus on clocking up those 200 hours (that’s why they call it an ‘intensive’). Choosing an intensive course where you take off for a month and come back a yoga instructor is a wonderful option for many peoples’ lifestyles and is an incredible way to delve deeply into the teachings, but the upside of choosing a part-time course is that it enables you to integrate your learning into your life and begin to embrace a more yogic lifestyle as you complete your studies.  

The most important consideration when choosing your training is that you resonate with the teachers and their style of yoga. For this reason, it’s ideal if you have practiced with the studio that you’ll be taking your training with, or it has come highly recommended by a trusted contact.  

IN THE GROOVE 

You will start to look at your life through a different lens 

Influenced by the philosophies of yoga, there’s no doubt that embarking on your YTT will invite you to completely reassess almost every aspect of your life. When I began my first training I was working the corporate grind in Sydney and going out for decadent meals and bottles of red on the weekends. Not long after I finished I had moved to the Northern Rivers to pursue a life in yoga and my weekends were spent drinking green smoothies and walking around the Byron lighthouse with friends. Be prepared to take a look in the mirror and have your values and beliefs challenged, which may lead to some big life changes. 

You will be confronted 

You will be confronted physically, mentally and emotionally. You will need to surrender control of your schedule to the training, which can be physically and mentally draining. Expect around 3 hours of asana practice per day with lots of sitting and taking in information in between. You may begin to feel overwhelmed. This is the sweet spot – where you begin to observe your patterns. You’ll shine a light on the parts of yourself that you may not have witnessed before, and they’ll come to the surface in all their glory. What manifests as a frustration that you don’t get any free time might be a fear of losing control. Your feeling of exhaustion might gently (or not so gently) point out your willingness to give up easily. Or your anxiety around teaching might be an indication of a deeper lack of self worth. Whatever the training, there exists an incredible opportunity to let go. And in the process you may confront some demons.   

You will want to teach, and you can 

I have known so many people, myself included, who have embarked on a teacher training with no intention of ever teaching. Be prepared for that to change as the process unfolds, and allow yourself this desire. The fear of not being good enough will likely surface, but don’t let that stop you from sharing. Be uniquely, authentically you, and know what there are students out there who will love you exactly as you are and resonate with your way of teaching and being in the world.  

The challenges don’t end when you begin teaching in the ‘real world’. You will go out there full of enthusiasm and eventually realise that yoga isn’t a cure-all, taking it a little less seriously. You’ll find balance, and that might sometimes look like a glass of wine or a mindless moment sometimes. You’ll have a hard time fitting in your own practice if you’re teaching full time, you’ll be confronted by the business side of things, and you’ll come across people and situations that challenge your passion for the industry. But if you’re lucky like me, you’ll find solace and comfort in the practice, eventually learning that putting your feet behind your head doesn’t have anything to do with being a good teacher, but that being a decent human being does.  B

Understanding the lingo 

Yoga Alliance – A non-profit organisation based in the US that offers a stamp of approval for teachers, ensuring that they meet certain international guidelines. Most teachers offering teacher training apply for and receive membership as it enhances their professionalism. However, many senior teachers believe that there should be more quality control within YA as receiving approval does not require much.  

RYT/E-RYT – The Yoga Alliance stamp of approval – Registered Yoga Teacher and Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher. The RYT stamp says you’ve completed your studies, and the E-RYT stamp says you’ve completed studies in addition to teaching a number of hours. The RYT and E-RYT certifications start from RYT 200 hours up to E-RYT 500 hours.  

Yoga Australia – The peak professional body for yoga in Australia. They provide support to yoga teachers and the industry as a whole (which is currently unregulated). You are not required to be a member to teach. However, joining YA will give you access to an abundance of resources as well as registered teacher recognition and health fund rebates for students.  

200 hours – Also known as ‘level 1’, this is the minimum requirement for gaining insurance and teaching yoga.  

300/350 hours – Sometimes taught as an alternative to 200 hours to give students more experience and confidence in teaching, access to Yoga Australia membership, or as a pathway to becoming a senior, level 2 (or beyond) teacher.  

500 hours – Also known as ‘level 2’, 500 hours will give you status as a senior teacher. 500 hours essentially combines your level 1 (200 hours) with an additional 300 hours for the full certification. You can usually complete your 200+300 hours at different yoga institutions if you choose, allowing you the opportunity to explore different styles and teachers.  

Certificate IV– There are very few schools within Australia that offer this certification. It is essentially a 500-hour (level 2) qualification with extra modules required for government accreditation, allowing domestic students access to financial assistance and international students the opportunity to receive a study visa.  

1000 hours – These are becoming more popular for students who wish to pursue a career in yoga. Registered courses and teacher trainings can go towards the accumulation of your 1000-hours or some schools offer 1000-hour trainings for serious yogis.  

What teachers have to say about their first YTT 

What was the biggest shock? 

That I actually loved teaching! I only did my first training because it was a chance to deepen my knowledge. I had no intention of teaching, but I loved it all so much I felt really inspired to share, and it was really fun. Also it was a shock to realise how much there was to learn – the first YTT was just the beginning. Yoga is such a huge body of knowledge to study. I try to take a course every year to keep building my skills. – Lila Kirtana, 41, Senior Trainer for YTT 6 week immersion at Krishna Village, Murwillumbah NSW 

How did your lifestyle change? 

My first YTT was set over the course of the year at home in Melbourne, so it allowed us to put the lessons into our daily lives. By the end of the year I had changed my diet and become vegetarian, had decided I no longer wanted 2.5 kids and a 3 bed house in the burbs and generally had a slow motion revolution in my world views, priorities and way of living. – Stefan Camilleri, 29, Senior Yoga Teacher Trainer in Indonesia and Australia, Melbourne VIC 

What was the biggest challenge? 

For me it was patience. I was eager to get out there and share everything I possibly could but I was still developing a skill. Good things take time though. Just like your practice, teaching is like a pot of soup –  it takes time for flavours to develop and complement each other. – Rebecca Gonthier, 27, yoga teacher, Northern Rivers NSW 

What was your greatest learning?  

The experience connected me with likeminded people and allowed me to not only discover the true depth of yoga but also myself. My YTT opened my eyes to a whole new way of living. It’s provided me with the tools to access my inner voice. It’s taught me to be more accepting and compassionate towards myself, to always live in the present moment and has instilled in me a sense of faith in the path I am on. – Elizabeth Muquiney, 32, recent YTT graduate, Gold Coast   

What advice would you give to someone considering a YTT? 

Take your time, remember the practice of yoga was birthed many many years ago so don’t expect yourself to ‘get it’ during a one month training. I highly recommend to space out your training over 12 months at least. This gives you ample time to practice, read, experience and learn in a relaxed way. Do your research, find a teacher you resonate with, ask about ongoing support post certification and don’t get hung up on having thousands of followers on social media – this does not define you as a good or knowledgable yoga teacher. Let the magic of the practice guide you, make a commitment to practice yoga on and off the yoga mat and most of all enjoy the journey! – Delamay Devi, 39, Senior Prana Vinyasa Yoga Teacher and Teacher Trainer 

The post Your Teacher Training Survival Guide: Things I wish I’d known appeared first on Australian Yoga Journal.

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by Loraine Rushton Do you battle with your child over screen time? Does screen compulsion take away from your ability to connect?

If you answered yes, then join the generation of parents, family members and school teachers who are dealing with a similar situation.

We are constantly hearing about the benefits of the high-tech world — faster communication, access to information, greater connection to the world and news, social mobility, the security of knowing where your child is at all times and the extended network of friends. However, there is another side to all these benefits. We can observe signs of addictive behaviour when according to Nielsen, the average teenager now sends 3,339 texts per month, which equates to about 1 text message every 6 minutes of their waking hours. Surely this is having a detrimental affect on our children and teens. Is the high amount of screen time playing a role on children’s mental health and emotional well-being? Does over-use of technology and social media lead to the increasing levels of depression, stress and anxiety and low self-esteem seen in every classroom today? Is the virtual method of communication leading to lower quality relationships, friendships and a lack of connection?

What we do know is that the obsession with phones, iPads, computers, and gaming is at an all time high with 99% of children playing video games. A staggering 125 million people around the world are playing the game ‘Fortnite’ and it is very likely that your child is one of them. Playing games for fun is not the issue, nor is checking in with a friend on chat or watching a clip on youtube. However, it is the symptoms of addiction that come with having a phone or tablet. Can your child put their phone down without a need to look at it? Can they be asked to turn off the computer without a tantrum? Or is the phone taking away from being able to have a normal social interaction?

Recently at a birthday party, I sat next to two teenage couples who both spent an entire meal communicating with each other by scrolling through their phones and when they found something of note, showed the other who acknowledged with a grunt. I’m not sure that one word was spoken between them the entire meal and they didn’t make eye contact once. How many times have you been in a restaurant or in the car with your child trying to have a conversation while they were glued to their phone? It’s this lack of connection that overtime will lead to disharmony in families and teens feeling isolated and alone.

The mental and emotional well-being of children and teens is of increasing concern and the lack of face to face human interaction is taking its toll. Beyond Blue reports that 1 in 7 young Australians experience a mental health condition, that suicide is now the biggest killer of young Australians and accounts for the deaths of more young people than car accidents, and when we learn that half of all lifetime cases of mental health disorders start by age 14 years, it’s time to take a serious look at how they are spending their free time.

Geoff Colvin, in his book, ‘Humans Are Underrated,’ tells of a study done with a group of 6th graders, who went on a screen-free camp for 5 days. The impact on their emotional intelligence was staggering. He goes on to conclude that pre-teens and teenagers who are heavy social media users are, “Less likely to get good grades …less likely to get along with their parents or are happy at school; they are more likely to say they are often bored, get into trouble a lot and are often sad or unhappy.” The effect of being consumed by a phone, he concludes, is “unhappiness, emotional disconnectedness and weak social bonds,” all of which a vital aspects of a teen’s life.

This shows that screens not only absorb our attention, but they change us. The good news is that the human mind and brain will rewire itself and can and will, as in the case of the 6th graders, change back. So what can we do?

The post Removing the I From I-Pad appeared first on Australian Yoga Journal.

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This amazing prize is valued at over $17,000!

How would you like to win a Golden Ticket giving you a place on the whole collection of Byron Yoga Centre’s residential trainings and retreats for one year?

The Byron Yoga Centre is giving away one Golden Ticket valued at over $17, 000 to one lucky winner! The ticket will give you a place on one of each of Byron Yoga Centre’s residential trainings and retreats for one year!  These trainings and retreats include: the option to join one Level 1 and one Level 2 teacher training, one choice from the Byron Yoga specialty courses such as yin, restorative, remedial yoga and meditation training. You will also have the option of attending the popular graduate immersion as well as attendance at an 8 day, 5 day and 3 day retreat during the year. If the winner is female, you will even secure a spot on our popular weekend women’s retreat.

You do not have to be a yoga teacher to enter! The competition is open to any student with a regular practice who wants to delve deeper into all of the aspects of yoga. You can find more information about the Golden Ticket competition details at www.byronyoga.com and the @byronyogacentre instagram. Entries close Sunday 14 April 2019 and the winner will be announced Friday 3 May 2019! 

This incredible prize gives the lucky winner the option of joining all of the following Byron Yoga Centre courses and retreats: one Level 1 and one Level 2 training; one choice from the range of speciality courses: Yin, Restorative, Remedial Yoga or the Meditation Teacher Training; plus a place on a popular Graduation Immersion; as well as one 8 day, one 5 day, one 3 day Retreat and (if the winner is female!) a place on one of the Women’s Weekend Retreat.

You don’t need to be, or even plan to be a yoga teacher. Byron Yoga Centre’s Level 1 trainings are a great way for any yoga student with a regular practice to delve deeper into all aspects of yoga. Yin and Restorative trainings can be used as a way to explore these modalities regardless of whether you do, or plan to teach. Byron Yoga Centre has clarified that the winner doesn’t need to participate in all the offerings on the prize list – we think that even if you only attend the three retreats it would still be a fantastic prize!

Entries close Sunday 14 April 2019 and the winner will be announced Friday 3 May 2019. The winner can book into their choice of any of the trainings and retreats included in the prize with start dates between 1 June 2019 and 31 May 2020.

Full details of the competition, all the terms and conditions and to enter:

The post Win One Year’s Teacher Training with Byron Yoga Centre appeared first on Australian Yoga Journal.

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A guide to moving your body through the decades while maintaining optimum health. By Erin Bourne.

Whether we dread it or embrace it, we can’t stop the marks of time in our bodies. While we are all unique and the exact effects and timelines will differ, the following are the general aging processes, and how to work with them.

In Your 20’s

You’re more or less in your prime. The grey and white matter in the brain reaches maturity and the thought processes are fantastic. While there are some decreases in the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid, important for skin hydration and elasticity, your skin still appears healthy. Women will reach peak bone density in their late 20’s so this is your time to build those bones.

Biggest Concern: Stress and lack of sleep are the most common reason for any illness or body issues.

What You Can Do: Start building healthy habits to reduce stress such as daily meditation and making sure you get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Ensure you are participating in weight-bearing exercise regularly, and getting plenty of calcium, to build the bones. Build your baseline fitness level, running, functional movement classes, weight training, Pilates and yoga will all benefit you in your 20’s and beyond.

Full length portrait of an attractive mature woman meditating on a yoga mat at home

In Your 30’s

Things start to get noticeable! Production of the sex hormones, Testosterone, Oestrogen and Progesterone start to reduce. This causes your skin cell turnover and collagen production to decline, and spots, fine lines, and wrinkles start to appear. There is less pigment production so grey hairs may begin to grow. Your metabolism in general is slowing down, in part due to a decrease in size, elasticity and strength of muscle tissue. People may begin to gain weight.

Women begin to lose more bone than they produce, and may see changes in their menstrual cycle.

Biggest Concern:  maintaining muscle mass and bone density.

What You Can Do: weight bearing exercise, particularly for women, to keep the bone strength. Ensure you have a good diet that includes healthy fats, many hormones require fat for production. Drink more water and less alcohol to keep the body and skin hydrated. Start facial yoga to help build up facial muscles and plump the skin.

In Your 40’s

The mass of the brain and some cognitive ability begins to decline, roughly 5 percent every decade from age 40. This is not uniform throughout the brain, memory is the most impacted area, nor is it uniform throughout the population.

Lean muscle mass declines and fat increases. Actually the fat cells grow and push into the skin giving the appearance of cellulite. More grey hair appears, and many people will lose hair. The thickness and blood flow of the skin reduces so it appears more wrinkly or sagging.

Fertility drops in women and their menstrual cycle can get unpredictable. Some women in their late 40’s begin Perimenopause. Oestrogen levels decrease and this can reduce memory, the memory will bounce back after menopause though.

Men enter the risk zone for heart disease.

Biggest Concern: maintaining muscle and reducing fat

What You Can Do: keep exercising, a combination of cardio and weight or resistance training.  Keep up the meditation, studies do show that the memory areas of the brain in meditators doesn’t shrink like those in non-meditators. Do yoga, facial yoga and maintain the good sleeping habits developed in your 20’s, or start them now if you didn’t.  

In Your 50’s

Sight and hearing may start to deteriorate; the lenses in our eyes lose mobility. Collagen and elastin production further decrease in the skin so more wrinkles appear. This also means joints are less mobile and hydrated. We begin to shrink, losing about 1cm of height per decade. Our risk of chronic disease and cancer increases.

The average age for Menopause is 51 so many women will experience varying symptoms with this through their 50’s. Around age 55 men stop gaining weight and start to shed it, mainly due to a decrease in lean muscle mass thanks to decreased testosterone.The good news though, happiness levels begin to rise! Numerous studies show people begin to stress less and really enjoy life in their 50’s.

Biggest Concern: maintaining muscle mass and cognitive function

What You Can Do: Regular meditation, learn new skills, like a language, and stay social to keep the brain function. Dancing is an excellent choice for keeping the brain healthy. Exercise regularly incorporating yoga or Tai Chi to keep the joints moving and hydrated.

It’s a journey. Look after the carriage.

In Your 60’s

While new brain cells continue to grow we are slower to access memories. Some cognitive abilities decline yet we get better at regulating emotions and forming impressions of others.

The elasticity and function of the lungs, and maximum heart rate decrease reducing the level of intensity we can exercise at. Muscle mass has continued to decrease and this means we are less able to generate heat, our sensitivity to cold increases.

Hydrochloric acid secretion in the stomach decreases impacting digestion, making smaller meals more often beneficial.

Joints may begin to feel stiff or arthritis sets in. Spider veins may appear on the cheeks, nose, chin and legs as superficial veins dilate.

Biggest Concern: brain function and fitness levels

What You Can Do: stay social and learn new skills! Exercise regularly, Pilates, or dance for fitness and the brain. Yoga will help to keep the blood vessels healthy and the joints mobile.

Beyond Your 60’s

The autonomic nervous system slows and this reduces reflexes and cardiovascular function. We lose weight and height faster; essentially the body is declining overall, from sight and hearing to physical fitness.

Biggest Concern: maintaining health and vitality

What You Can Do: Keep exercising, eat regular and nutrient dense meals and stay social.

Remember, this is a very general picture of the aging process. We are all different; I know that my body is not 100 percent following this guide and we’ve all seen those people doing amazing things in their 90’s. The ‘What You Can Do’ sections are all valid though; healthy diet, social connection and movement really are essential to aging gracefully. What each of those looks like for you will be highly individual, just make sure you’re doing them.

The post Aging Gracefully appeared first on Australian Yoga Journal.

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