According to Yoga, human life resembles a triangle. In the lower left corner we have birth. The left side is youth, which leads to the top, maturity. From there begins the decline, old age, which leads to the lower right corner, death. The base of the triangle represents life after death, which leads back to a new birth.The ascending part of the triangle also represents the anabolic phase, a phase in which the cells reproduce at a speed greater than that in which they decay, and the body develops. The descendant, generally after 35-40 years, is the catabolic phase, in which the cells that decay and die are more than those that reproduce, leading to aging, with all its load of problems, both physical and mental.
For a Yogi, who sees the body exclusively as an instrument to conduct one’s spiritual search, it is important that this instrument, this vehicle, always possess maximum vigor. This is why Yoga was born in ancient times, a discipline that allows the body and mind to maintain high levels of efficiency for as long as possible. A healthy body and a controlled mind give the Yoga practitioner the right willpower and the ability to apply himself to the discipline with profit.
By applying these principles to the life of our day, Swami Vishnu, has summarized the practice of Yoga in 5 fundamental points.
Right Exercise – ASANA
The asanas, the positions of Yoga, if practiced correctly and regularly, increase circulation, lubricating the joints, muscles and ligaments. In this way, they give the body the necessary flexibility and strength, especially the vertebral column, which is the exchange and control point of all the energies that make the body work. In addition to acting on the articular and muscular systems, the asanas perform an important stimulating function on all internal organs, which are massaged and sprayed with blood. Asanas give maximum results when performed slowly and with awareness, they are maintained for a certain period of time, with effects not only on the various apparatuses of the human body, but also on the mind, which becomes calmer and therefore more concentrated, more ready to meditation.
Right Breathing – PRANAYAMA
Prana, the vital energy that makes our body alive, is absorbed in various ways: sun rays, energy from the Earth, food. But the most important of all, in quantity and quality, is the breath. This is why, by learning to breathe well, we also learn to control the flow of prana in our body. Most of humanity normally uses only a third of their lung capacity, breathing in a superficial and hasty way, especially in moments of psychological tension. This means that it receives less energy than it needs, creating a continuous state of energy shortage and psychic weakness. Pranayama, with its various respiratory exercises, teaches us to take full control of the breath, to strengthen it and to make it regular, not only during Yoga lessons, but always, at any time.
Yogin, practitioners of Yoga, know from experience that there is an intimate connection between breath and mind. Just think of how the breath changes, even unconsciously, in the various emotional states in which we find ourselves: rushed and superficial in moments of tension or anger; calm and almost imperceptible when we are concentrated, sometimes until apnea (and everyone held their breath!). This is why, by learning to control breathing, we not only improve the intake of vital energy, but gradually bring the mind into a state of deep calm which helps concentration and meditation.
Just Relaxation – SAVASANA
Like any apparatus, the body and mind also occasionally require rest. Each Yoga lesson begins and ends with a few minutes of deep relaxation, which is induced with specific techniques by the teacher. Furthermore, between one asana and the other, moments of relaxation are always interposed, especially Savasana, to avoid that the body immediately responds to the prana accumulated during practice and to keep the mind calm. In Yoga relaxation does not consist simply in lying down and remaining still, but, through the three levels of relaxation, physical, mental and spiritual, in trying to reach a state of deep inner stillness. Only when this state of calm is reached does relaxation become truly regenerating.
Right Diet – Vegetarian
The food we eat daily has a double function: to regenerate the cells that have finished their life cycle and to give us the physical energy necessary to perform all the functions of the body, from digestion to respiration, from circulation to various movements. Since we eat several times a day every day, it is very important that this food has certain characteristics of purity, not only for the physical body, but also for the subtle one. For this reason we must make sure that the foods are light, not very elaborate, possibly whole and organic, without chemical additives of various kinds. Above all, it is important that they are foods that respect animals and the planet, according to one of the fundamental rules of Yoga: ahimsa, non-violence. Cereals, legumes, fruit, vegetables, milk, these are the foods we need. Foods that have a high content of subtle and pure energy. Obviously, the transition to the vegetarian diet must not be automatic, even if often over time, those who practice Yoga feel it more as a necessity than a self-imposed one.
Positive Thinking and Meditation
The four described so far are the bases that lead to the most important of the five points: meditation. Yoga is a very profound philosophical and spiritual discipline. Trying to understand it exclusively on a mental level does nothing. One cannot think of practicing Yoga and leading a materialistic life, full of worldly desires. Yoga, as the Masters teach us, is “living in a simple way and thinking in an elevated way”. The various practices serve above all to gain an ever greater awareness of our body, our breath, our mind and finally our most important spiritual component. Mindfulness enables us to control and concentrate the mind until it stops, to enjoy the meditative state, the inner silence, the Divine Bliss, Anānda.