How Yoga Can Help You Look Younger Than Your Years

This targeted anti-aging yoga workout helps strengthen and tone your body.

To keep your body looking and feeling its best with each passing year, say "om." Yoga may be one of the best ways to slow the inevitable aging clock. And it's not just because you're helping your muscles remain limber. Regular yoga practice may increase stay-young hormones that can slow the aging process.

"As you get older, you lose lean muscle mass—as much as 15 percent per decade if you're not active," Vonda Wright, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and the author of Fitness After 40, told Health

But doing yoga plus other strength exercises at least four or five times a week helps slow that loss so that even a 60-something can have as much lean muscle mass as someone 20 years younger than them, Dr. Wright said.

Here's why yoga can have an anti-aging effect and a workout focusing on your arms, legs, back, and more.

Anti-Aging Benefits of Yoga

Doing yoga comes with various benefits, many of which impact how you feel, how well you can move around, and your overall health, including:

  • Increased mobility
  • Reduced risk of slipping and falling
  • Protective against cognitive decline
  • Increased flexibility, strength, and balance
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved mental well-being

Yoga is also especially good at battling the sag that comes as time marches on, Janiene Luke, MD, associate professor of dermatology at Loma Linda University Health, told Health

"The skin is like a drape for the underlying musculature," said Dr. Luke, "So, if those muscles are toned, you'll look firmer, and your skin will be less baggy."

Who Can Benefit From Yoga

Because there's a lot of variety in the difficulty levels and types of yoga, just about anyone can benefit from doing yoga. 

Although, older adults may need to be more cautious than younger adults concerning any exercise since they are at a higher risk of falling. Also, they may have less strength and stamina. Older adults should start yoga at a low intensity. Over time, they can slowly increase the duration and difficulty level.

Just a few minutes a day can make a big difference, said Kristin McGeeHealth's contributing yoga and wellness editor and a yoga instructor in New York, who put together a few of her favorite gravity-fighting poses.

feature-side-crow-fight-gravity-yoga
@ Tom Corbett. Tom Corbett

Side Crow

The side crow helps strengthen your arms. Follow these steps to perform the move:

  • Squat with your knees and feet together.
  • Twist your knees as far to the right as you can. Place your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart, right hand aligned with your left little toe and left hand a few inches farther out.
  • Lean forward and place your upper outer left leg on your upper right arm. Tilt forward to lift your legs, balancing them on your upper right arm.
  • Repeat on the other side. 

If that's too difficult, watch the video below to learn how to do a regular crow.

goddess-squat

Goddess Squat

The goddess squat helps strengthen your outer thighs. Follow these steps to perform the move:

  • Stand with your feet about three feet apart and your toes turned out to about 45 degrees.
  • Bring your hands together in front of your chest in a prayer position.
  • Exhale and bend your knees as deeply as possible, keeping them in line with your toes.
  • Press your palms together while gazing straight ahead.
chair-pose

Chair Pose

The chair pose helps strengthen your glutes. Follow these steps to perform the move:

  • Stand with your feet together. Inhale and lift your arms overhead.
  • Exhale and bend your knees, bringing your thighs toward the floor while drawing your shoulder blades down and reaching your arms past your ears.
  • Keep your lower back long and lift through your chest as you lower your legs more toward the floor, gazing forward and keeping your arms parallel.
  • Rise to stand.
  • Do this as a continuous flow, ideally holding each pose for five to eight breaths. Repeat the flow two or three times.
  • Complete the sequence three or four times a week to help strengthen your glutes.
incline-plank

Incline Plank

The incline plank helps strengthen the backs of your thighs. Follow these steps to perform the move:

  • Sit on the floor with your legs extended straight out. Put your feet together and your palms at your sides a few inches behind you with your fingers pointing toward your body.
  • Lift your hips, pushing through your heels and hands. Form a straight line from your head to your heels.
  • To release, lower your hips back down to the floor. To make it harder, lift one leg and point your toes.
chaturanga

Chaturanga

The chaturanga helps strengthen your chest muscles. Follow these steps to perform the move:

  • Begin in a straight-arm plank with your hands directly below your shoulders and your legs extended straight out behind you.
  • Slowly bend your elbows, lowering your body until you're hovering a few inches off the floor. Keep your back flat, elbows close to the sides, and your head in line with your body.
  • Push through your palms to return to starting plank position.
fish-pose

Fish Pose

The fish pose helps strengthen your neck muscles. Follow these steps to perform the move:

  • Lie face up with your legs extended, arms at your sides, and your palms down.
  • Press your forearms and elbows into the floor, lifting your chest and arching your upper back slightly.
  • Continue arching back, lifting your shoulder blades off the floor. Tilt your head back, so the top of your head touches the floor.
  • Continue pressing through your forearms and out through your heels.
  • To release, tuck your chin as you lower back to the floor.
boat-pose

Bow Pose

The bow pose helps strengthen your back. Follow these steps to perform the move:

  • Lie face down with your legs extended and hands at your sides.
  • Bend your knees, bringing your heels toward your glutes. Grasp your ankles with your hands. On an inhale, lift your heels while bringing your thighs and chest off the floor.
  • Look forward, breathing evenly.
  • To release, exhale and lower your thighs and chest to the floor, letting go of your feet.

A Quick Review

Yoga can provide benefits for just about anyone. As for older adults, the benefits that come with yoga can improve how you feel, how well your muscles and joints work, and your overall health and well-being. If you're an older adult considering yoga, start slow and find a program that suits your fitness level.

Pin this sequence and save it for later:

fight-gravity-with-yoga
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Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Madhivanan P, Krupp K, Waechter R, Shidhaye R. Yoga for healthy aging: science or hype? Adv Geriatr Med Res. 2021;3(3):e210016. doi:10.20900/agmr20210016

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical activity and health: A report of the surgeon general.

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