Thursday, August 24, 2017

Maximize Your Longevity with the Amazing Power of Yoga

In the course of my work as a trial consultant, I spend a fair amount of time in law offices working with litigators – lawyers who try cases in the courtroom. I had scheduled a work session with an attorney for 10:30 a.m., figuring we’d only need a couple of hours, and we’d be done before lunch. Imagine my surprise when I received a call from the attorney – a woman in her late 60’s -  requesting that we move the meeting to 10:00 a.m., so that she could make it to the yoga class her law firm held in their offices at noon!

My first thought was “What an enlightened law firm!” My second was “Yes, of course! I’d be delighted to change the appointment time” – even though it meant I had to re-arrange my morning to accommodate her. I was thrilled that this firm understood the tremendous importance of respecting the well-being of their attorneys, that it was willing not only to pay for the instructor, but to make a room available for yoga and forgo what would otherwise be “billable hours” from the attending attorneys. And doubly thrilled that the litigator I was working with valued herself enough to participate in the class.

Yoga does so much good for body and soul, especially for those of us over 60. Here are but a few examples of vibrant women whose dedication to yoga has paid off in joy, health and longevity:

Bette Calman, 90, a highly respected yoga teacher for 50 years, she’s now known as “Yoga Super Granny.” She shot to international fame when she starred in an Advil commercial during the 2016 Super Bowl. 

Tao Porchon-Lynch, 98, was recognized as the world's oldest yoga teacher by the Guinness Book of World Records at age 93 – and she’s still teaching! Her phenomenal background includes marching with Mahatma Gandhi twice, and helping people escape the Nazis as a French Resistance fighter during World War II. Besides yoga, she took up ballroom dancing at the “young” age of 85. Tao’s mantra is “There is nothing you cannot do.” It’s one she has taken to heart throughout her life and is a great example for all of us.

Anna Pesce, 87, corrected her hunchback posture in just 2 years with the help of a certified back-care yoga instructor. She says she feels wonderful now because she can drive and do many things she couldn’t before.

So how does it work? How, specifically, does yoga benefit your body and mind?

In terms of your body, yoga improves balance, which becomes increasingly important as we age. Yoga promotes bone strength, because the nature of the movements themselves improves bone density, which tends to decrease over time. Yoga is a low-impact form of exercise, which means that it strengthens your muscles gently, and in the process, prevents them from atrophying. Stronger muscles mean less stress on your joints, thus easing arthritis.

Yoga also lowers blood pressure without putting undue pressure on your cardiovascular system, which is why it is (for most people, always check with your physician!) particularly well suited as part of a lowering-blood-pressure program. Because yoga incorporates deep breathing as a part of the practice, more oxygen is circulated throughout your body, to the benefit of all your internal organs and systems.

On the plus side for your mental and emotional state, yoga stimulates certain chemical releases in the body that can diminish anxiety and promote an overall feeling of relaxation. Because yoga relieves tension, many find that it improves their sleep. Along with that, yoga has been shown to increase your memory and ability to process cognitively, something we all can appreciate as we grow into our later years!

Why is it important to know about the benefits of yoga? Because it lends itself to a little-known health trick: The more you know about how something benefits you, the greater the benefit.

Nowhere was this phenomenon better demonstrated than in the remarkable “Hotel Maids” study. The maids in two hotels did work that added up to more than 30 minutes of daily exercise. At the first hotel, the researchers told the maids how many calories they burned as they cleaned their way through the equivalent of 30 minutes of exercise. The researchers said nothing to the maids at the second hotel. After just one month, having made no changes to their diet or exercise routine outside of work (which was virtually nil), the maids in the first hotel weighed an average of two pounds less, had a smaller percent of body fat, and systolic blood pressure an average of 10 points lower. The maids in the second hotel experienced no change.
What happened? The maids in the first hotel now had information about specific benefits of their work beyond a paycheck. Their subconscious transmitted the benefits-message to their bodies, which resulted in weight loss, less body fat and lower blood pressure. Yet the maids weren’t physically doing anything different.
Of course, maid work is much different than yoga, but the concept is the same. Harness the power of your mind as you engage in the practice of yoga. Know the specific value and benefits that yoga brings to you, both physically and mentally. You cannot help but thrive!
Never tried yoga? Here’s a great place to start: Gentle Yoga For Seniors.
Noelle Nelson, PhD is passionate about personal growth, happiness and appreciating this amazing experience called “life.” She’s devoted the last three years to the study of longevity and wrote the book, “Happy Healthy  . . . Dead: Why What You Think You Know About Aging Is Wrong And How To Get It Right.” She continues to uncover many amazing  people who are in the 80s, 90s and beyond who are doing wonderful and exciting things with enthusiasm and gusto regardless of age or physical condition. Find their stories on Facebook at Meet The Amazings!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Unity Magazine Article - Longevity 2.0

Here's a link to my article in the September issue of Unity magazine. It hits on how attitude plays such a big role on how we view aging. I hope it's helpful. If we're fortunate to live into our 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond--let's make sure we live it to the fullest!
Longevity 2.0

Thursday, August 17, 2017

“Anti-Aging” Is Out of Style at Allure

Beauty magazine Allure is giving the heave-ho to the term “anti-aging,” and, instead, is ready to “celebrate the beauty in all ages.” Actress Helen Mirren, age 72, is on the cover of its September issue.

“Having a beauty magazine appreciate aging instead of trying to fight it is a huge step in changing the way society thinks about growing older,” says Dr. Noelle Nelson, author of “Happy Healthy…Dead: Why What You Think You Know About Aging is Wrong, and How to Get It Right.” “If a magazine like Allure recognizes the simple loveliness in aging, so can the rest of us.”

Nelson explains that as we age—every wrinkle, every scar—tells a story about our lives. “Imagine reaching age 60 with no laugh lines!” she says.

During her research for “Happy Healthy…Dead,” she discovered people in their 70s, 80s, 90s, even 100s who are thriving, enjoying life and accomplishing great things. It led to her creating “Meet The Amazings!” on Facebook where she celebrates people who understand that life is to be lived with enthusiasm and gusto, whatever age or physical condition. Since she began Meet The Amazings! in 2016, she’s posted over 100  of these “amazing” stories.   

“Growing older is a wonderful thing because it means that we get a chance, every day, to live a full happy life,” says Michelle Lee, Allure editor-in-chief on August 14, 2017 on the magazine’s website. “I hope we can all get to a point where we recognize that beauty is not something just for the young.”

The magazine’s website also includes quotes from 29 celebrities including Oprah Winfrey (age 63), Ellen Barkin (age 63) and Diane Von Furstenberg (age 70) about their positive views on their later years.

“Some may think, ‘oh, they’re celebrities, of course they’re going to enjoy life,’” says Nelson, “but I’ve found countless numbers of amazing older folks, from all walks of life and all economic conditions who have the exact same, enjoy-life-to-the fullest attitude.”

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Making Good Times Out of Bad: the Ken Nwadike Story

Once upon a time, there was a man who wanted desperately to run in the 2014 Boston Marathon – as many runners did -  for the simple reason that it was the first Boston Marathon after the dreadful 2013 bombing. But the Boston Marathon is different from most marathons, in that you have to qualify in order to enter it. Namely, you have to have completed your previous marathon in a certain amount of time, depending on your age category.

Well, the man in question was 23 seconds short of the qualifying time he needed in order to enter the marathon. But here he was, in Boston, now what?

He had a number of options.

1. He could get angry. I mean, after all, what’s 23 seconds? And who makes up these qualifying times anyway?

2. He could blame, well, pretty much, anything and anyone. The weather the day of his previous marathon, the shoes he was wearing, the argument he had with his S.O. the night before, not to mention the arrogant marathon elite who made up these (stupid) qualifying times in the first place.

3. He could get depressed. There was only one 2014 Boston Marathon, there would never be another. This was going to be an historic run, and he was going to miss it. Serious bummer.

4. He could beat up on himself. Why, oh why, wasn’t he swifter? What was wrong with him that he couldn’t even qualify for the Boston Marathon?  How dare he think he could run the thing?

Any of which could easily have led to his turning tail and going home, angry or depressed, take your pick.

Instead, Ken Nwadike attended the Boston Marathon in his own way. He made a “Free Hugs” sign, and with that and a camera on a tripod, he gave out hugs and smiles to the runners that passed him by, his way of encouraging and supporting them. No self-pity, no blame, no anger.

From that humble beginning, Ken began his widely acclaimed Free Hugs Campaign, which states its purpose as follows: “Continuing the nonviolent movement of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the mission of the Free Hugs Project is to spread love, inspire change and raise awareness of social issues.”
When things go wrong in our lives, as they do from time to time – sometimes seemingly all the time! – we have a choice. We can dwell on the “ain’t it awful” part, or we can pause, take a deep breath, assess the situation, and find a positive direction in which to go.
Sure, there are times when it’s important to mourn, grieve, get pissed, and otherwise allow the bad feelings to have their way with us. But it’s never in our best interest to stay with those feelings, to let them run rampant through our hearts and minds as we rehash the awful/unfortunate situation over and over again.
Whether it’s something relatively small in the scheme of things, like missing a marathon, or large, like losing a loved one, let Ken’s story inspire you to take that breath, re-orient yourself, and move on to doing something worthwhile with the experience.
Life rocks! So can you.