Thursday, September 1, 2011
A few years ago I listened to Herb Benson lecture about how he discovered the Relaxation Response in the 70's-
and Jeff Dusek at Harvard is now finding a coorelation in the DNA of meditators. If I was to develop a pill that promised to turn on genes that fight cancer, heart disease and depression, and then advertise on TV, everyone would be coming into the office asking to try the "new medicine". What if the label said no side effects, and what if insurance paid 100% with no copay. What if the therapeutic effects would extend to all body systems and not just help the heart, or improve mood or give and erection for more than 4 hours. This is what I feel yoga does to people. Its more than just bending over and wrapping your leg around into a pretzel. We sell it to the public as a way to get flexible just because marketing says the majority are hesitant to listen or do things that involve spirituality but they will click and read on things that improve physical fitness. Its ashame but life long practitioners usually are the ones that started with taking a class out of curiosity then became engulfed by the positive effects on every aspect of daily life.....who cares if I can touch my toes when I now feel better and more aware of existence and happiness than any other time in my life!!! Everyone I teach knows my story, I used to add a few poses to my "pre-workout routine" to get warm and wake up muscle. Now my old work out routine is used as a "pre-yoga warm up".
Truth in practice is that yoga, a moving meditation has the ability to lower the blood pressure, improve core strength, take the mind out of the onslaught of ideas and thoughts that bombard it every second, change metabolism, maximize digestion, and enhance killer attack white blood cells that fight cancer. Its like a smart bomb that can be set off in a crowd but only kill select badguys, leaving women and children unharmed. One of the most profound effects I have experienced with this is that if applied at the beginning of the day....after class I feel a great sense of wellbeing (I can get that with a workout-endorphine rush for an hour) but then its effects are pervasive. I think clearer so traffic is not a bother. I am more productive at work so efficiency is maximized and projects are finished in a shorter time span. Lunchtime comes without a rabid hunt for carbs/ meat/ salt/ volume so I dont get saturated in post gastric sleepiness. Since satiety is there without being drowsy, no need for the big starbucks venti. Without caffeine, sex is magnificent and sleep is immediate and continuous. Then the next morning, wake up bright and alive looking for more yoga and meditation. You can see this pervasive improvement from one aspect of life to the next. Its like a logirithmic improvement in feeling and functioning at a true maximum without a drug. Just think of anabolic steroids, ritalin, viagra, prozac, marijuana, HCG, and vicodin without any side effects! (Aahh....now you understand!!) There was a recent movie "Limitless" that was about a drug that opened mental awareness, but it didnt stop there, every system in the body functioned at a level that was superhuman, all because the mind was unlocked.
So when a yogi exclaims "I feel better at 50 than I did in my twenties" its not just that the mind has been dupped into thinking pleasant thoughts....its because cholesterol is lower than ever, sleep is without a pill or a beer, food is digested without heartburn or bloating, muscle repair is faster than varsity highschool years, the morning is fine without coffee......and oh yeah...... I can also touch my toes.