Postures to Age Gracefully

Postures to Age Gracefully

To be aware of the simple postures to age gracefully and to inculcate them into your daily routine is a key healthy lifestyle practice. Does this sound too inconsequential and simplistic? Well, it certainly is something that is ignored by a vast majority of young adults and the middle aged, leading to a more distraught life when they grow old.

What Do We Mean Postures to Age Gracefully?

The industrialized, modern world provides many comforts which, coupled with the lifestyles and cultures (especially of the West) further encourages a shift away from a natural living routine. This is in complete contrast to what some call as floor living, which is typically a common lifestyle practice in the East & the South East (India, Thailand, Japan etc)-sitting, squatting, kneeling etc.; though some cosmopolitan culture even in these latter regions is trying to emulate the habits of the West. But wherever you are, you would do well not to overlook the virtue of these postures to age gracefully.One real example of a basic posture which a vast majority of the people skip in daily routine is the full squat on the floor. When you try to pick up something off from the floor, do you squat or hinge on your hips? Can you stand up from a squat posture with little or no support? Can you stand erect with grace and poise from the floor? These are so important for all those who want to be capable of doing things for themselves when they grow old.

For many, this process amounts to learning to re-tune, sort of. For more on this retuning phenomenon, read floor living. If you are keen to age gracefully, you have to ensure flexibility, mobility and strength in your limbs and back as you grow older. One posture I recommend is the Malasana. It is not maalasana as some yoga teachers in the West have called it wrongly, to mean ''garland pose''. No doubt the appearance of the posture could be related to a garland, the truth is, coming from the land of yoga, India, it is actually the pose traditionally in use for excretion, until people started using the European style closets in modern homes. Even today, this is the pose used in villages and towns for defecation in Indian style closets or in the open.

It is a pity that it seems so difficult to do Malasana for many of us while people in some cultures not only squat in Malasana breezy easily but they can stay in the pose fairly comfortably, fairly long. Check out this video shared by Mark''s Daily Apple.

It is a pity that it seems so difficult to do Malasana for many of us while people in some cultures not only squat in Malasana breezy easily but they can stay in the pose fairly comfortably, fairly long. Check out this video shared by Mark''s Daily Apple.

It is a pity that it seems so difficult to do Malasana for many of us while people in some cultures not only squat in Malasana breezy easily but they can stay in the pose fairly comfortably, fairly long. Check out this video shared by Mark''s Daily Apple.

I consider the full squat as a whole body workout because it affects the entire musculoskeletal system beneficially. I don''t miss doing it every single day. In order to ensure good mobility, flexibility and the strength of gait through old age, I would encourage you to practice the squat posture regularly, unless of course you are advised by your healthcare provider not to undertake such postures.

How to do Malasana (The Squat Pose)?

Image Credit: Malasana posture by Amy at Flickr

Stand erect & firm but relaxed with your feet shoulder width apart; breathe normallyWhile exhaling & lowering your hips, try sitting down slowly and smoothly, making sure to rest your heels firmly on the floor and lean your torso slightly forward from above the lower back; this is the crux of the squat pose: there may be a tendency for the heels to lift off from the floor and transfer the weight on the toes. This is normal, to start with, for many of you. In order to progress, there are a few ways you can try support during the initial days: you may ask someone to hold you by hand while you try to progressively drop your heels on to the floor and stretch your lower back to lengthen your torso or you may use a rolled up blanket to support your heelsOnce you find balance in the posture, try to focus on breathing and try to breathe-in and breathe-out in a rhythm as deep as you can; this will help you stay in the posture for a while to bestow the benefits to various parts of your body as explained later below.In the Malasana yogic posture, once you squat, press your elbows against the knees with the palms close (the Indian Namaste); but you may also try other variations in this full squat posture, for additional benefits. One variation is to rest your palms on the floor with the elbows placed between the knees and palms close to the feet. When you do so, you try to place the complete palms first in front of your feet and as you advance into regular practice and attain increasing flexibility, move the palms by the side of your feet, in parallel to them. The torso will slide further forward between your thighs but try to keep a forward and straight gaze on an object at the eye level. To return, disengage the palms, release the torso, support your weight on your heels and stand up slowly. If needed, you may use the palms to support while getting back to a standing position. Remain in position on your feet while relaxing with your breath work for a few minutes.6. The correct way for settling into a regular & sustained practice of Malasana is to do it in progressively slow and easy increments, never pushing yourself too far into the ultimate perfect pose. Keep focus on your breathing at all times, ensuring that it is slow, deep and rhythmic. A good breathing pattern will help your musculoskeletal system ease into complex looking postures quite comfortably.What are the benefits of the sustained practice of Malasana or the Squat Pose?

It helps stretch your back, especially the lower back thereby inducing the free flow of prana or energyIt helps ease the stiffness in the knees and provides mobility, strength and elasticityAnkles and calf muscles become supple which helps in maintaining a steady gait & poiseIt tones up the digestive system and metabolismThe hips, heels and the feet gain strength Most parts of the nervous system comprising the entire spine, knees, ankle joints and major muscles are all involved, invigorating the musculoskeletal system and ensuring improved circulation and deep breathing resulting in an overall sense of well beingMalasana is considered beneficial for pregnant womenIt may also help melt fat downWhen and How Long?

It is beneficial to do Malasana on empty stomach or several hours after meal. Depending upon endurance and practice one can remain in a squat position from a a fraction of a minute to a few minutes. It is better to avoid jerks and quick movements to prevent injury and harm.Among several postures to age gracefully, I put the squat pose or Malasana on top of the list based on my personal experience and my conviction that its regular practice will guarantee a comfortable senior life.

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The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don''t want, drink what you don''t like, and do what you''d rather not.~Mark Twain

The information contained in these Articles is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Remember the body of each person is different and will react differently to various herbal, vitamin and mineral supplements. Therefore, any supplementation must be administered on an individual basis. The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated any of the statements contained on this web site. Use the information found on this web site as precisely that: Information. You and your doctor must make any final decisions.This information is not meant to replace any doctor and patient consultation. This information should in no way replace the advice of your personal physician ~ adapted from www.alternativehealth.co.nz

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