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Yoga Firms Your Body

Sam Dworkis
©Yoga People, LLC 2017

arm balance

Approaching middle age and beyond, we complain about losing our youth, vitality, and our firm and youthful-looking bodies. As we age, skin loses its resilience and begins to wrinkle and sag. Before we know it, our face is affected; excess skin gathers around our bellies and on the backsides of our arms. It reminds us that if we don’t do something soon, we’ll look much older than we feel.

Although cosmetic surgery can restore our youthful appearance, it cannot reverse ageing. We might look better, but it doesn’t improve health. An argument can be made that improved appearance makes us “feel” better, but looking good is; well, only an illusion of good health. There is no substitute for actually being healthy.

Loss of body tone is a natural phenomenon of ageing and goes beyond making us look older. It impedes circulation and contributes to ill health. There are many ways to counter the loss of body tone and improve circulation. Most involve physical activities; such as running, jogging, racquet sports, swimming, gym workouts, and so on. All are effective, yet not everyone wants to be outside during inclement weather or have gym or swimming pool access.

A principal impediment to maintaining a disciplined exercise program is that the older we become, the more difficult is to maintain a regular workout. The body resists and there is never enough time. It always seems like more we need to exercise, the harder it is. Yet in order for exercise to be effective, consistency over time is required.

When time is limited, we usually focus on one or two activities and tend to “just do it” without an appropriate warm-up or cool-down. In a best-case scenario, “just doing it” leads to boredom and a worse case scenario leads to injury. Although cross training is essential for maximizing physical health, we don’t make time for engaging in multiple sporting activities much less take time for effective warming-up, and cooling-down. This is when yoga becomes so advantageous.

Not only is yoga a fabulous cross training tool for virtually all sports, it is in itself, a total fitness package encompassing hundreds of different exercises, both aerobic and non-aerobic. Yet yoga goes well beyond athletics. Through its controlled and precise breathing; and through its strengthening, stretching, and endurance building exercises, your entire body is toned. Circulation is stimulated and the mind relaxes.

Yoga especially affects fascia, which is the “bag that holds your body together.”  Fascia totally permeates your entire body. It encapsulates everything; muscles, organs, glands, nerves, and it is also the “fabric” that lies directly under your skin. When fascia loses resilience through ageing, it contributes to sagging skin.

An appropriate yoga practice therefore helps restore and maintain elasticity of fascia and improves overall circulation (these mechanisms are further explored in my website, www.extensionyoga.com). Therefore, when the fascia directly under your skin becomes more resilient, your overlying skin responds and likewise, appears more vibrant.

We thank Sam Dworkis for permission to print this article. Sam teaches a broad range of students from world-class athletes; to chronically ill, injured, and post-operative people, is senior-certified by BKS Iyengar and is considered to be an advanced yoga practitioner and teacher. However, in the early 1990's, Sam developed multiple sclerosis and the direction of his life and his yoga dramatically changed.

Today, Sam is a person in recovery who has direct experience with both sides of wellness and chronic illness.This has led him to write Recovery Yoga, a book for people who are experiencing chronic pain, disability, or are simply out of shape.

Now, because of the variable nature of multiple sclerosis, Sam's yoga practice might encompass everything from ExTension Yoga to advanced yoga exercise. Yet the very next day might necessitate a Recovery Yoga practice. As Sam is fond of saying: “Such is the beauty of an appropriate yoga practice; it’s not how much yoga one can do, but it’s the quality of what you can do that maximizes its benefits and minimizes its liability.”   
He has also written Extension Yoga, another excellent book.

Reprinted with Permission
Sam Dworkis, author
All Rights Reserved