Longevity and Yoga

Fit and strong woman doing push ups

The one thing I have learnt about having two young kids in my 40s, is that the earlier in life you can have them, the better.

Children… even just one of them takes a lot of energy on a daily basis. With my first kid, more of my hairs went grey. With my second, kid, I started losing hair.

I have found I have less time, and that I tend to focus a lot more of my energy on my family than on work, travel, entertainment or other projects.

As we enter the new decade, I would like to focus more on my own long-term health and longevity. As my kids grow older, I assume their demands on me will remain high, although what they require from me will change.

I would like to keep myself relatively healthy for as long as I can, to be able to support them and at the very least, teach them some good habits and educate them the way I want them to be educated.

The direction of this blog will reflect my drive to focus on health and longevity. I will write more on health and fitness, and share what I do and learn with anyone else who is interested.

Longevity Through Yoga

I found an old book called The Manual of Yoga by the author Desmond Dunne, written in 1956. In one chapter, he talks about how we can attain longevity through the practice of yoga. Here is a passage:

If you would live to a ripe old age, then you must take Yoga seriously. Yogis, particularly those of India, have succeeded in prolonging this earthly existence for an incredible while. They can preserve their vigour and youthful appearance till far beyond the normal span of life. Naturally we in the West cannot expect to obtain exactly the same results as they do, for they devote the whole of their time to this aim of remaining young, but we may emulate them to some purpose. Despite the difference in their environment and mode of existence, we can, provided we are prepared to make sufficient effort, in some measure retain youthfulness and add to the length of our years.

We generally appreciate but little what we have gained with ease, and are so apt to lose it; and once it is gone, we would have it back and cannot recover it. One can fritter aways one’s opportunities to survive to eighty or more, waste one’s health as if its supply were an inexhaustible pitcher. But even if one had unwisely done so, Yoga will enable one to make good the loss.

Follow its instructions regularly and with fervour, carrying our its exercises, rhythmic breathing, relaxation, and keeping to a sensible choice of diet, and you will have a good chance of adding many years to your span your life. But make no mistake, you will have to sacrifice a considerable amount of your leisure, and put out a great deal of effort, to win this coveted prize. Too many people expect to do so without lifting so much as a little finger. However, not being so fortunate as to possess an Aladdin’s lamp, which if they did they might not have sufficient energy to rub, they are bound to remain disappointed. Yoga, like any other pursuits which are worth striving after, cannot be achieved without prolonged and persistent application.

The Manual of Yoga, (p94) 

 

The Coveted Prize

I think the same advice can apply to other health practices and disciplines such as tai chi, qigong, dancing, even bodybuilding, as we can see from Jack LaLanne, who was in his 90s and still exercising. Better health and a degree of longevity can be attained, but we have to work to gain it.

We are spiritual beings occupying physical bodies. Our bodies are designed to be used regularly, but modern living (supposedly civilised), actually discourages it. So many jobs these days don’t require a lot of physical activity. Additionally, many of us consume a lot more food than we need. I think that many of us can get to our 50’s or 60’s without too many complaints, but then the kind of life we have led will then start to catch up with us then and affect our bodies.

As Desmond writes, ‘make no mistake, it takes a great deal of effort to achieve longevity and we have to sacrifice leisure to attain it’. I think the process can and should be enjoyable and is definitely worth it. And that sacrifice is daily activity or exercise and regular healthy habits.

Starter Steps

Here are some simple starter points.

  • Set a goal every morning that one of the first things you do is some gentle stretching, callisthenics , qigong or any kind of exercise, even if just for 10 minutes.
  • When watching TV or Youtube videos or reading a book or blog (like this one), get on the floor and do some gentle stretching at the same time.
  • Also whilst sitting at home when watching TV or reading, try and adopt the half lotus, Japanese seiza or cross legged pose (if you cannot do the first two). It will help open up your hips and improve your posture.
  • Eat smaller portions of food. And consume higher nutrient dense foods – veggies, rice and some protein.
  • Go for a walk every day and walk at a moderate to fast pace.
  • Finally, read a chapter of The Genki Self Health Guide every day and leave a positive review on Amazon for me.🙂

These are all ideas I aim to do every day. They are also all ideas from my Genki book. Simple approaches for better health!

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BECOME MORE FLEXIBLE: Paschimottanasana – The Yogic Forward Fold


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References

The Manual of Yoga. Desmond Dunne. 1956 W. Foulsham & Co. Ltd, London.

Picture Accreditation

Woman doing push ups from 123rf.com (Yes, it has nothing to do with yoga, but I liked the picture)

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