Yoga Open Day

I benefici dello Hatha Yoga sulla Salute sono molteplici:

l’esercizio corporeo rende flessibili, tonifica i muscoli e lubrifica le articolazioni;

il massaggio degli organi interni attraverso posture (“asana”) che vengono eseguite insieme a tecniche di respirazione (“pranayama“) mantiene giovane il corpo;

le tecniche di rilassamento agiscono sul corpo e sulla mente ricaricandoli di energia;

le tecniche respiratorie (“pranayama“) favoriscono la calma mentale e aumentano la capacità di respiro;

gli esercizi di concentrazione favoriscono una maggior efficienza mentale, e la loro continuità aiuta a raggiungere stati di meditazione.

 Se volete accostarvi allo Yoga per la prima volta oppure se già lo conoscete, considerate questa nuova esperienza che vi viene offerta sabato 17 settembre a Roma dalle ore 11.00 alle 12.00 presso Psicoluce, Via Apuania 13. Ricordatevi che è obbligatoria la prenotazione!

Che cosa portare: vestiti comodi, un telo di cotone

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The educational role of Yoga and Naturopathy

Both Yoga and Naturopathy play an educational role.

YOGA teaches body-mind-spirit connection through awareness of one’s body, which needs to be supported by the mind and spirit for good functioning.

To give a practical example, Vriksha-asana known as the “Tree pose” cannot be performed correctly without training the mind to concentrate in keeping that posture – therefore not to wander, otherwise one is apt to fall down. Who has experienced that pose long enough may agree that the spiritual part is consequential to the mental ability of concentrating. Body-mind balance necessarily brings to a connection with one’s inner world. At the same time, breathing – which is a body function – is involved in the ability to concentrate, which favours body-mind balance, and we know how it also plays a leading role in calming the mind and therefore drawing toward a state of meditation.

By experiencing Vriksha-asana we not only learn how to keep our body in balance, but indirectly we also learn how to train our mind to adjust to our body’s balance and how to connect to our inner world through mind-body balance.

A NATUROPATH is most of all an “Educator”. He teaches his clients body-mind-spirit connection in different ways. Awareness of one’s body is experienced through its limitations, whereas awareness of the power of one’s mind can be experienced through some of the techniques as well as the natural remedies that the Naturopath uses in his practice. Awareness of one’s spiritual path is consequential.

An example could well be a client complaining of a physical pain. A naturopath would try to understand the cause lying behind that pain, which could well bring to an emotional/mental problem to be dealt with. By facing that problem the client would learn much about his mind, and how it relates to his body, hindering his inner growth. Of course, self-healing is not always that easy, and most of the time the client would need to be supported by some natural remedies and advices on nutrition etc. But what I would like to stress here is the importance of learning the body-mind-spirit connection for a client who goes to a naturopath, and the need for a naturopath to teach his clients.

Introduction to Yoga

Originally from India, yoga is first of all a philosophy of life.

Patanjali is considered the “Father” of yoga, although we only know of him that he was the first one to write down some fundamental rules in his Yoga Sutra, during a period that goes from 400 to 200 B.C. But we are almost sure that yoga was already practised in India long before him, because it was part of Indian lifestyle, or Ayurvedic tradition, which was handed on from father to son. Ayurveda is a holistic science according to which the functions of the body are closely related to the individual’s mind and soul. Hence, according to Ayurveda, being healthy does not simply mean that the body is not affected by disease, but also that the mind needs to be happy and the person spiritually elevated, in order to be able to carry out all his tasks and therefore fulfil his dharma – a Sanscrit term which may be translated as life project. To date, there is no one in India who does not consider yoga as part of one’s lifestyle.

In western countries, yoga has been given a meaning different from the original one, that is, it is no longer part of a lifestyle, but it has become an exercise, just like stretching or pilates (which have drawn much from yoga). The main reason for the latter is, I believe, that in the West yoga’s positive contribution to psycho-physical well-being has highly been considered. As a matter of fact, in the early 1970’s American scientists started to investigate into its benefits by carrying out medical studies to understand whether yoga could be considered not merely as an exercise, but as an efficacious therapy in the treatment of some pathologies.

Meditazione e Emozioni

Attraverso la meditazione si tende a controllare l’attività mentale, che favorisce non solo la quiete mentale ma anche lo sviluppo di emozioni positive quali l’amore e la compassione.

Questo è il risultato di un esperimento scientifico svoltosi in un laboratorio dell’Università del Wisconsin nel 2001, riportato in un libro scritto dal Dalai Lama e Daniel Goleman dal titolo Emozioni Distruttive. Per l’esperimento è stato chiesto ad un monaco buddhista di raccogliersi in meditazione, per capire se un individuo possa da sé produrre cambiamenti positivi e duraturi nelle funzioni cerebrali, il cui impatto sulle emozioni sia più duraturo rispetto a quello dei farmaci. E pertanto, capire se gli individui sono in grado di addestrare la mente, e quindi possano essere messi in condizione di gestire le proprie emozioni, indipendentemente dal fatto che siano individui animati da una ricerca spirituale. Il monaco fu sottoposto a vari test – ivi inclusi una risonanza magnetica funzionale ed un EEG – dai quali emersero dati straordinari, e cioè come la mente può essere addestrata in seguito a pratiche quali la meditazione, perché la struttura del cervello può essere modificata, e come la nostra salute mentale e fisica possa conseguentemente migliorare.

In breve, grazie ad alcuni metodi di addestramento della mente, si è arrivati alla conclusione che è possibile controllare meglio le emozioni destabilizzanti quali la rabbia e la gelosia.

Yoga and Meditation to prevent and manage “destructive emotions”

Yoga has long been tested as a “therapeutic tool” for prevention and management of negative emotions. In fact, its major goal is to train the mind. Patanjali (the Father of Yoga, who compiled the Yoga Sutra) was comparing the Mind to a Monkey whose symptoms are lust, greed, jealousy, anger, ego, stress, depression and all those destructive emotions we suffer from because we gave all our powers to the mind and allowed it to be our master. Therefore, we are happy when the mind is happy, and depressed when it is depressed. In a way, we have come to believe that we are the mind itself.

Yoga, especially with its breathing techniques (pranayama), concentration and meditation slowly brings to the awareness that this “monkey mind” is responsible for our unhappiness, and therefore has to be trained in order to live a better quality of life. A busy mind that never stops thinking will inevitably bring about negative thoughts,  which are also responsible for our bad health. On the contrary, positive thoughts and calmness of the mind can make us see life in the right perspective, enable us to take the right decisions, be healthy.

Meditation has been tested to be a technique that, if regularly practiced, enables to take control of our mental activity, favours calmess of the mind and the development of positive emotions like love and compassion. To this purpose, it is worth mentioning the scientific tests reported on the book written by the Dalai Lama and Daniel Goleman entitled “Destructive Emotions”. These tests were carried out in 2001 in a lab in Wisconsin University (USA) and basically consisted in asking a Buddhist monk to meditate, in order to understand if an individual is able to produce himself positive and lasting changes in his cerebral functions, whose impact on emotions would be more lasting than the use of drugs. And therefore, understand if individuals can train the mind in order to overcome destructive emotions, by managing their own emotions themselves, without necessarily being individuals who tend toward a spiritual life. The monk underwent different tests, like fMRI and EEG, after which there was evidence of the fact that the mind can be trained if practicing techniques like meditation, because tha structure of the brain can be changed. Moreover, there has been evidence of an improvement in mental and physical health. In short, the conclusion of the tests was that thanks to some methods apt to train the mind, it is possible to better control some negative emotions like anger and jealousy.

Let’s then start to train our monkey mind to silence….

Yoga and Naturopathy

Within the naturopathic sciences, yoga is considered one of the most complete as far as exercise is concerned. This is because a hatha yoga session, followed by pranayama and concentration techniques will integrate body-mind-spirit. As a matter of fact, the word yoga in Sanscrit means “union”, by actually meaning the union of Man with the Absolute, the Universe.

Therefore, in India yoga is first of all a philosophy of life, and he who practices hatha yoga has no desire or aspiration but the one of “centering himself”. If hatha yoga is especially concerned in giving more flexibility to the body, this is to make the person aware of his body, so that he would respect his body in all its functions. This awareness is important by itself, because it establishes a relationship between the “physical” body and the “rational” mind. On the other hand, pranayama exercises will help establish a relationship between the physical and rational side of our being with the spiritual side, through breathing exercises that make oneself aware of one’s life breath – prana -, whose energy is able to calm one’s mind and balance the body’s functions.

Concentration exercises which follow pranayama are a first step toward states of meditation. Pure meditation is nothing but “detachment” from one’s body and absence of thoughts in one’s mind, which brings to an “emptiness” that cannot be translated into words if not by a deep sense of internal peace, a detachment from all that surrounds and is “material”….

Lo yoga in naturopatia

Lo yoga è considerato fra gli esercizi fisici più completi in naturopatia, poiché una sessione di hatha yoga, seguita da tecniche di pranayama e di concentrazione, integra corpo-mente- spirito. La parola yoga in sanscrito vuol dire “unione”, intendendo, appunto, l’unione dell’Uomo con l’Assoluto, l’Universo.

Quindi, in India lo yoga è principalmente una filosofia di vita, e chi pratica l’hatha yoga non ha alcun desiderio o aspirazione se non quella di ritrovare “il suo centro”. Se l’hatha yoga si occupa soprattutto di sciogliere i legamenti e i muscoli del corpo, è per rendere la persona consapevole del proprio corpo, perché lo rispetti in ogni sua funzione. Questa consapevolezza è già importante in sé, perché è capace di mettere in relazione il corpo “fisico” con la mente “razionale”. Gli esercizi di pranayama aiuteranno invece a mettere in relazione la parte fisica e razionale del proprio essere con la parte spirituale, attraverso esercizi di respirazione che rendono consapevoli del soffio vitale – prana -, la cui energia è capace di calmare la mente e di equilibrare le funzioni del corpo.

Gli esercizi di concentrazione che seguono il pranayama sono un primo passo verso il raggiungimento di stati di meditazione. Lo stato puro di meditazione è il “distacco” dal proprio corpo e l’assenza di pensieri nella mente, che porta ad un “vuoto” che non può essere descritto a parole se non come un profondo senso di serenità interiore, un distacco da tutto ciò che circonda ed è “materiale”…