Did Yoga Drive Healthier Habits?

At age 60, struck me hard that life is getting towards end. Knew I wanted to be healthier when old, “someday”, due to 20 years in eldercare, seeing many in poor health at end of life.

Some disabilities and misery clearly caused by bad luck or accidents, but many — diabetes, COPD, CHF, possibly even Alzheimers’ and cancers — the result of personal choices and habits. Choices such as eating too much, drinking too many sugar-filled sodas, smoking, lack of exercise, too much sun exposure. I started reading books on longevity.

Awhile back, I’d gone to a hospital fundraiser with health presentations where one doctor told us that 70-year-old tri-athletes had bodies inside like 40 year olds. He’d given us a flyer with his advice towards a healthier old age titled F.A.C.E the Future. That was standing for Flexibility, Aerobics, Carry a load (weight-bearing exercise) and Equilibrium (balance exercise). That flyer on my bathroom counter had been poking at my conscience for over a year.

I’d been to yoga classes, knew I wanted to practice yoga for the flexibility advantage and also knew I wanted to meditate, since reading books about happiness and peace-of-mind indicated big advantages given mentally by meditation. Thought maybe just do a tiny bit to get started.

Realized after reading Dan Harris’s book, 10% HAPPIER, great read on benefits of meditation, that possibly yoga could be used as meditation. Decided to make an easy, short routine and figure out how to build a new morning habit.

Think it was the process of devising a routine with real yoga poses in which each slipped into the next, trying to clear mind while holding poses, that gave me a goal to work towards and the motivation to do it each morning. Once the routine took shape, the motivation to continue was helped by telling friends and family that this was part of my new daily semi-retirement life.

On day, while crouching over to pick up feet of recalcitrant mule — lifting, cleaning, filing hooves is a heavy job — back seized up, could hardly move to get myself home. Could hardly roll out of bed to do yoga next morning. Found books at library with exercises saying if done each day would prevent future back problems. I especially liked a book called THE 7-MINUTE BACK PAIN SOLUTION, as could see how the exercises would fit nicely onto second half of my yoga routine.

Felt rewarded when sister forwarded a yoga routine for back pain control which included those same exercises. I got a book showing correct yoga poses and found back exercises were close to those moves; incorporated into routine, along with affirmations at beginning.

As with most things when loved, I became fanatical about wanting my friends and family to take up this practice. Anyone can do it, is so short, quick, easy! My mother and sisters gamely got down on floor with me during each morning on visits (but none continued with practice on own; I’m still hoping for converts.) Decided best if leave them alone, make a video, they can watch and learn; trust that people will do if feel it improves their lives.

Now when thinking back, remembering what has come since — an easy, almost-fasting day each week (saw on PBS, then read book by Dr. Mosley called FAST DIET); an 8-Minute Balance and Core-Building Exercise Routine devised and done two days weekly (video possibly released next year); this year added a Mon, Wed, Friday high-intensity interval training workout with slow timed jog intervals going up hill; a study of Blue Zones and efforts towards eating plant-based meals — I wonder if it was all started due to the yoga routine with its affirmations at start for better health and strength.

The video is attached below, called 10-Minute Yoga and Back Strengthening Stretches with Meditation, Breathing, Affirmations. Put it into your life and let me know if you suddenly find yourself wanting to live stronger and healthier; if you find yourself changing towards better eating and exercising habits. The blog Healthy2aHundred will be a good place to find out if it works that way for others, too.

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