An eternal fountain of youth
An age-old holistic science, yoga has a preventive and curative dimension unknown to the general public. It finds its origins in India, more than 5000 years ago, invented by the deity Shiva to help men free themselves from the cycle of reincarnations and its sufferings. With a traditional oral transmission, its teaching has long remained secret and reserved for mystical elites in search of spiritual liberation.
Codified by the Indian Sage Patanjali in the “Yoga Sutra”, yoga designates a set of techniques allowing to harmonize the body and the spirit. Written in Sanskrit, the sacred Indian language, this reference work explains through short aphorisms that yoga is a global way of life based on 8 essential pillars, always with the same objective: to calm the mind, regenerate the body and regain serenity by refocusing on oneself.
Yoga for the search for inner well-being
With more and more commercial and intellectual exchanges, the West discovered yoga in the 19th century. Master yogis travel to Europe and the United States and the first yoga schools open, supported by personalities from intellectual and artistic circles. The Beatles like Yehudin Menuhin become faithful practitioners and today the practice is recommended to models to maintain a slender and sculpted body.
On the way to becoming a social phenomenon, the secret of yoga lies in a practice that combines physical postures, work on breathing and a lifestyle based on positive thinking and a healthy and lively diet. A well-being cocktail that you can’t do without, once tested.
In France alone, yoga would bring together nearly 3 million practitioners, a figure that is constantly increasing. There is no need to be young and flexible, yoga is accessible to everyone, regardless of age and physical condition. Requiring little equipment, the regular practice of deep muscle yoga, gently stretches, learns to breathe consciously, focusing on the present moment. An essential reconnection with oneself that allows you to find yourself. And it’s never too late to start!
The main principles of yoga
Many preconceived ideas circulate about yoga. Often reduced to a more or less dynamic physical practice, yoga is an art of living made up of precise techniques aimed at cultivating the body and the mind for physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
According to the tradition (Yoga Sutra of Patanjali) yoga is composed of 8 branches, cited in a desired order: first superficial, in contact with the exterior, then increasingly deep and interior:
1- The Yamas : relational disciplines
– Ahimsa: non-violence, non-nuisance, respect. It is also about benevolence towards all beings, including oneself.
– Satya: truth, sincerity, authenticity
– Asteya: honesty, respect for the property of others
– Brahmacarya: control of our instincts, mastery of impulses
– Aparigraha: material simplicity, detachment from material possessions.
2 – The Niyamas : personal disciplines
– Saucha: cleanliness, purity in the broad sense (body, thoughts, heart, words, environment, food…)
– Santosa: contentment, serenity, gratitude, positivism
– Tapas: discipline in a spirit of purification, conscious and constant effort in the practice of postures, controlled breathing, speech.
– Svadhyaya: reflection, questioning, self-knowledge and the study of sacred texts
– Isvara-pranidhana: surrender to a higher force, humility, acceptance, devotion, faith
3-Asanas : the daily practice of the postures
4 – Pranayama : the art of breath control and vital energy
5 – Pratyahara : sensory discipline
6 – Dharana : concentration
7 – Dhyana : meditation
8-Samadhi : union with the Whole, the ultimate goal of yoga.
What is a yoga session like?
The yoga class
A yoga class depends on the type of yoga chosen but also on the teacher. In general, each session lasts between 60 and 90 minutes and consists of three parts: breathing exercises, postures, and a final guided relaxation.
Essential at the beginning of the session, the internalization and breathing exercises allow you to focus on the breath and the present moment to let go of your thoughts and begin to calm down. After this first time of refocusing on oneself, the postures are linked according to sequences imagined by the teacher according to the theme and the level of practice of the course.
In Iyengar yoga, the use of supports (blankets, straps, bricks, etc.) facilitates the learning of postures by varying their approach and makes them accessible to people with a particular problem.
The different postures and their effects
Standing poses stretch and tone muscles, give mobility to joints and release momentum in the spine. They invigorate the body and mind, promote proper functioning of the organs while improving blood circulation and breathing.
Seated postures are soothing, they reduce stiffness in the pelvis and legs, erase fatigue, relax the mind and regulate blood pressure. (Asana means sitting).
Forward stretches promote internalization and encourage letting go, they soothe the mind and lead to serenity. Twists loosen blockages in the back, stiffness in the neck, shoulders and pelvis. They powerfully squeeze the abdominal organs and the kidneys, promoting digestion and eliminating intestinal laziness.
Back stretches are revitalizing, they give courage and fight depression. By opening up the rib cage and relaxing the spine, they make the body free for breathing. The mind becomes sharp and alert, ready to face life with a positive attitude.
Balances develop agility, muscle tone, coordination and concentration. Inverted postures increase vitality, relieve the legs, improve blood circulation and balance the hormonal system. They stabilize the emotions, promote concentration and sleep.
Skipped sequences, such as the sun salutation, are revitalizing by providing fluidity and endurance.
Yoga as an anti-aging and rejuvenating practice
By maintaining the body and the mind, yoga slows down the oxidation process and therefore the aging of cells. Regular practice allows for example to:
- regain muscle tone,
- improve your flexibility,
- lubricate the joints,
- fight against osteoporosis,
- keep your memory alive,
- cleanse the body of its toxins,
- manage stress, known to be extremely oxidizing for our cells…
In India, where yoga is one of the pillars of Ayurveda (science of life in Sanskrit), it is one of the treatments recommended to cure many diseases (see Ayurveda and Ayurvedic medicine in anti-aging here).
Awareness of the body allows you to take care of it, to find a clear mind, to eat better by paying attention to your diet, our first medicine and to have a more positive approach to life. Through this awareness, yoga engages us in this inner adventure of knowledge and self-transformation: awareness of the body and breathing, of potentialities and limits, of emotions and thoughts (see also lifestyle and anti-aging). -age).
Openness to oneself and to the other are intimately linked: by improving the relationship with oneself because one feels better in one’s body and in one’s head, this practice makes available for the relationship with the other and with the life of in a general way.
What to expect from yoga in anti-aging?
The first results are rapid, the body becomes more toned and supple, pain fades, digestion improves, the face clears up, the skin becomes luminous, the feelings of lightness and well-being are pleasant and encouraging, the silhouette looks younger thanks to better support, from the first sessions.
Beyond the certain physical benefits, yoga is a philosophy of life in its own right with infinite benefits that allows you to take care of yourself gently while respecting your own pace.
Which yoga to choose?
Yoga is one but the teachings are different, depending on the background of each teacher and the yoga taught. To begin, I recommend the practice of hatha yoga and Iyengar yoga. Then, when the postures have been mastered, students who want more dynamism can try ashtanga or kundalini yoga, a practice with powerful effects combining breathing, postures, songs and meditation.
Finally a piece of advice, practice while respecting your limits, under the supervision of a teacher, take the time to breathe and smile at life, the secret of the eternal youth of body and mind!
Cecile Lucot, Yoga teacher for adults and children in Arcachon
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