Ashram de yoga Sivananda Sivananda Yoga Orleans
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The five points of Yoga

according to Swami Vishnudevananda

1. Proper exercise (Asanas)

asanasThe asanas (postures) work systematically on all parts of the body, lubricating the whole bodily system by stimulating the circulation and increasing flexibility. Asana means a steady posture done slowly and with awareness and promote not only physical well-being, but increase mental capacities for concentration and meditation.

Yoga asanas work first and foremost on the health of the spine. The spinal column contains the central nervous system, the communication system of the body, supporting the health of the whole body.

If the flexibility and strength of the spine is maintained with proper exercise, circulation is intensified, the nerves are assured of a supply of nutrients and oxygen, and the body retains its youthful condition.

Moreover, asanas activate pressure points which when stimulated, increase the flow of prana (life force or vital energy) in the body. They massage the internal organs resulting in improved functioning. Since yoga asanas are always practised in conjunction with deep breathing, relaxation and concentration, they help to develop mental concentration. The restless mind is withdrawn from the outward distractions and turns inward and is stilled.

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2. Proper Breathing (Pranayama)

pranayamaPranayama or proper breathing connects the body with its battery, the solar plexus, where enormous reserves of energy can be stored and retrieved.

Through the breathing techniques of pranayama this energy is released. When we consciously regulate our breath, we are able to store and access a greater amount of vital life energy or prana. Most people use only a fraction of the lung capacity for breathing. They breathe superficially resulting in tension accumulating in the upper back and neck due to lack of oxygen. Deep yogic abdominal breathing can release deep seated toxins and tensions and even depression.

A person who possesses an abundance of prana radiates vitality and strength and works with efficiency , calmness and concentration. Pranayama ( breathing exercises) not only increase prana but also how to control it. There is a subtle connection between prana and the mind , by controlling and regulating the prana we control the mind. All diseases of the body can be destroyed at the root by regulating the prana which is the secret of healing. Acupuncture, shiatsu, spiritual healing etc. are all examples of the conscious or unconscious control of prana.

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3. Proper Relaxation (Savasana)

sivananda yogaProper relaxation is a vital part of keeping the body and mind healthy and a tonic for the whole being, which when practised properly releases vast resources of energy. Proper relaxation cools down the system, like the cooling system of a car.
When the body is relaxed, nature recharges the body more efficiently. When the body and mind are constantly overworked, they overheat and we feel 'burnt-out'.

The stresses and challenges of the modern life make it difficult for a person to relax. We waste a large amount of energy on unnecessary physical and mental tension. During the course of a day our body produces all the substances and energy needed for the following day but very often this is dissipated within a few minutes by emotional outbursts of negativity such as anger, grief , jealousy etc.

During deep relaxation only a small amount of prana is used to maintain the most important metabolic activities. Even a few minutes of deep relaxation can recharge us more effectively than hours of restless sleep.

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4. Proper Diet (Vegetarian)

vegetarienThe yogic diet is essentially a lacto-vegetarian one, consisting of pure and natural foods cooked with fresh organic vegetables.

A yogic diet nourishes both the body and mind and is best suited for the practice of yoga and meditation. A simple yogic diet is a balanced diet free from chemicals, unprocessed and ensures a better supply of nutrients.

The yogic attitude to food is that we eat to live, not live to eat, taking foodstuffs which have the most positive effect on body and mind, and the least negative consequences to the environment and to other creatures.

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5. Positive Thinking and Meditation (Vedanta and Dhyana)

vedanta et dhyanaPositive thinking and meditation are an important key to achieving peace of mind. Meditation is the art of slowing down and focusing the mind. Regular practice enhances mental, physical and spiritual well-being.

In order to meditate, we need first to still the mind through concentration techniques and positive thinking. A mind full of negative emotion and thoughts cannot be stilled.

Through concentration techniques, negative thought waves are replaced by positive images and autosuggestion leads the mind to a state of calm and peace.