By Alex Pogeler
There was a time in my life when I measured greatness by one’s ability to drink copious amounts of alcohol. Back in my college days the ability to pull off a protracted keg stand was a badge of honor that I wore with pride. I spent a lot of time upside down with a tap in my mouth, guzzling that sweet Natty Ice to the adoring cheers of my fellow partygoers. Then I graduated, had to get a real job and my keg stand days came to a screeching halt.
These days I’ve moved onto different inversions, namely the kind that don’t involve cheap beer and backyard parties. I still enjoy a drink of course but I’ve learned to temper my alcohol consumption with more productive activities like Yoga. I’m getting older and I like to think that I’ve learned a thing or two about the aging process. I’ve concluded that most people can get away with a lot of debauchery in their teens and 20’s and still look decent. When I was that age I lived on junk food, averaged 4 hours of sleep a night and partied like Charlie Sheen. That lifestyle eventually catches up to you. As we get older it gets increasingly important to supplement our bad habits with more constructive ones. I’ve discovered that the best thing a person can do to maintain their health, appearance, flexibility and happiness as they age is to develop a strong Yoga practice.
Yoga is a unique form of exercise. It combines breath, flexibility, strength and balance in a manner that differentiates it from other types of physical activity. This conjunction of movement and breath produces a tremendous therapeutic benefit for those who practice Yoga. For lack of a good scientific explanation behind this process I’ll simply say that Yoga makes everything in your body work better. It increases flexibility, it improves digestion, it removes toxins, it aids with sleep, it cures fatigue and so forth. The cumulative effect of all these benefits can be witnessed in the physical appearance of Yogis, particularly as they age in comparison to their non-Yoga counterparts.
Anyone who spends enough time around Yoga studios probably has a good idea of what I am talking about.
Yoga does not stop the aging process nor does it make us immortal. It does however make getting older much more enjoyable. Not only does it keep our bodies limber and fit, giving us the freedom to engage in all kinds of physical activity. It also acts a daily reset button to cleanse the body from any questionable substances we might consume, be they decadent foods or strong drinks. Maybe “sexy” isn’t the right word when comparing headstands to keg stands, perhaps “complementary” is the better term. They balance each other out in an unexpected way. Just don’t try combining them into a hybrid yoga/drinking posture, I think that would be trouble.