We concluded last week’s Yoga Corner with the introduction of ‘meditation and good health’, highlighting the vastness of the subject and that there isn’t a part of our lives that is not touched or affected by meditation.
Starting with the category of physical benefits, and with probably the most favorite of slow aging, I’m sure that most us would like to slow down the aging process, especially in the most natural and harmless way.
Studies have shown that experienced meditators often look a lot younger than their «true» age, and they also arguably live longer than people who do not practice meditation as a lifestyle.
Scientific studies have been published, which I will not delve in to avoid being technical, explaining why meditation is the very best way to freeze “father time”, but I encourage those interested on the details to read more on the subject.
According to leading health and longevity researchers, stress accelerates our biological clock leaving us looking and feeling old long before our time (as you read this you may even think of one or two people yourself). Mediation is a natural tool to counter stress, hence slowing down the biological clock so to speak.
Granted there are very few people who are not yogis but still live even beyond a hundred. And if you were to interview these people, you would find that their general disposition is that of inner peace, very little or no stress at all. These are the fortunate ones. Most of us need to make an effort to reach the state of inner peace amidst chaotic surroundings. This is where meditation as part of yoga comes in.
The next physical benefit is that of beating addiction whether it is alcohol, tobacco, food, coffee, prescriptions, illegal substances, the list goes on. Researchers have found that there are physiological and psychological reasons why meditation is the best, most effective way to naturally overcome any addiction. It has been proven to give a “natural high” through the brain’s “happiness center”.
Indeed, the brain researchers have built a mountain of evidence showing that meditation can help immensely in beating addiction, healthily and naturally. When one practices meditation regularly, the mind develops the power as well as the inner strength to observe the coming and going of urges and cravings without emotions and in a detached manner. More next week……..
YOGA AND GOOD HEALTH.
World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as “….a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of Art of Living, explains good health as disease free body, quiver free breath, inhibition free intellect, and ego that embraces all. From these definitions, and many others, it is clear that good health is a much broader phenomenon which affects the physical body and the more subtle aspects like mind, emotions, inner being and even covers wellbeing at a social level.
Let’s start with the aspect of social wellbeing, which takes us to the very first two Limbs of Yoga – the five Yamas and the five Niyamas. The first Limb being the five Yamas refers to one’s ethical standards and sense of integrity, focusing on our behavior and how we conduct ourselves in life. A quick recap of these include: non-violence; truthfulness; non-stealing; continence; non-covetousness.
The second Limb of the five Niyamas have to do with self-discipline and inner or spiritual observances. Examples are cleanliness – both inside and outside; contentment – when your happiness does not depend on what you have or what you don’t have; spiritual austerities being the ability to withstand the unpleasant, the discomforts of situations or place; the study of the sacred scriptures and of one’s self. Such study should lead or guide us to our inner person, to the peace within; and the last Niyama is about surrender to God, the Divine, or the higher consciousness or being.
Delving more into the human values found in the Yamas and Niyamas, undoubtedly social wellbeing has to start at a very early stage. We have a saying in Setswana that ‘lore lo ojwa lo sa le metsi” meaning that early learning is likely to be better entrenched as a lifetime value than teaching an older person.
We are aware that our young generation, who are our future, require a lot of guidance and mentoring on human values that would build them into a peaceful, caring, confident, and tolerant nation. Introducing yoga in schools may go a long way in leading us to a desirable socially healthy future. When our actions are guided by the human values espoused in the Yamas and Niyamas among others, good health required in social wellbeing becomes a given. More next week…….
Yoga and parenting
This week let’s consider the different growth stages of a child, as we delve further into yoga and parenting, and reminding you that by yoga I refer to the combo of physical stretches, the breathing techniques and meditation.
Starting the child with yoga at a very early stage is beneficial for the many reasons that we’ve already touched on. It builds a very strong value system in a child, which serves as a strong foundation for their development. For example, the benefits of mental calmness, emotional intelligence, physical fitness, good energy, focused mind, self-confidence, enlarged sense of belongingness with humanity, a tolerant mindset are all valuable pillars for growing a child. The benefits are far reaching at home, in school and in the society.
Following from above, when children who have been practicing yoga reach their teens, they are so grounded that the common pains of peer pressure, low self-esteem or being bullied are not even an issue for them. We all know that the teen stage is very fragile, and that’s where children lose their balance. They become easily influenced, start experimenting with smoking, alcohol, drugs, sex, etc.
We know that sometimes children are exposed to, and have to deal with many other social ills that are beyond their control, which cause a dent on their persona. But when a child has developed inner strength, self-confidence and self-discipline from practicing yoga, it goes a long way to keep them mentally stable and with clarity of purpose.
Children observe what their parents do. As a parent, when you also practice yoga it brings some assurance to the child that they in turn are doing a good thing. So as parents we do it for ourselves and also for the sake of our child.
As the child graduates to being a youth and young adult, all the good attributes we’ve shared above would have created a person with integrity, loving, sensitive to others, productive, focused, in all, a good and successful human being. Botho is one of our National Pillars, and creating a generation of young people with Botho would not only be a family wealth, but also a National wealth.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Art of Living has a schedule of different programs for 2019, providing opportunity to experience all the benefits shared above and more.
More next week.
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