One of my yoga mentors once said in class during a shoulder stand, “Do this every day for 30 minutes, and you will see that this is better than even the most expensive anti-aging cream out there. Truly.”
Mind you, this teacher looked half his age. Since this admonition, I’ve used the shoulder stand to end every one of my own classes. The shoulder stand increases your blood circulation to the face, which is a great way to prevent premature aging and encourage a youthful glow. Do the following three poses on a daily basis, along with your skin care regime, and you are on your way to a beautifully youthful and healthy look.
Yoga Pose #1: Standing Forward Fold
Stand up straight with open shoulders, legs together, big toes touching. Inhale and stretch the hands up to the sky, gazing up. Exhale and fold over your legs, hands by the sides of your feet or arms behind the calves. Think about lifting the tailbone up higher as you drop the crown of the head lower. Stay for five to eight breaths.
Yoga Pose #2: Seated Forward Fold
Sit with legs out in front of you, big toes touching. To ensure that your hip bones are rooted down evenly and firmly, lift up your right hip, shift the right butt cheek to the side, and repeat on the other side. (Yes, literally move your cheeks.) Inhale and stretch the arms up to the sky. Aim for a tall lengthy spine. Then exhale and, keeping the spine lengthened, lower down to touch the toes. It is OK to bend your knees as long as you are keeping the spine long and the head is completely dropped towards the knees. Breathe for five to eight breaths.
Yoga Pose #3: Shoulder Stand
Lay on your back. With the strength of your core and with ener- getic legs, lift the legs up to the sky and place your hands on the lower back. Press the palms to push the back up straight. Lift the kneecaps up to keep your legs energized and straight up, feet flexed. Bear your weight on your shoulders, relaxing the neck and breathing. Stay for five to eight breaths. Eventually, work up to a 30-minute shoulder stand.
Sunina Young (sunina.com) is a yoga and SLT pilates instructor in New York City.
Photos courtesy of Ron Gejon.
This story was originally published in our Fall 2014 issue. Get your copy here.