Move Magazine - Munich

2013 Feel yourself With yoga to harmonize body and soul or: With mindfulness to a healthy body Many people consider yoga to be a sport in which it is important to knot yourself as challengingly as possible. But is that really it? Is yoga comparable to ballet or aerobics? For whom is it suitable? And where are the limits? Two yogis tell what yoga really is: A journey to yourself, to which you take your body and soul with you. When and why is yoga healthy? It is undisputed that stress and lack of exercise are among the greatest health killers of all, also in the orthopedic field. Stress leads to tension, incorrect posture and, as a result, often to pain. This is where yoga comes in: In yoga, the body stretches and stretches in all directions. Tensions are released, people automatically straighten up and the body comes back into balance. At the same time, it trains many muscle parts that are not used in everyday life and thus brings more strength and a new balance. Anyone who has practiced the tree on one leg for a long time knows what is meant. Since yoga is mostly practiced barefoot, sensorimotor perception is trained as well. To feel how your feet are on the ground, how you are anchored in the ground, Studies show that yoga can actually have positive effects on various health problems, such as asthma, heart failure and high blood pressure. An American meta-analysis of several studies published this year (Hagins et al.) Found that yoga can significantly lower the blood pressure in hypertensive patients. An English study from 2009 (Vempati et al.) Shows that yoga has a positive effect on both the subjective well-being and the lung function of asthmatics. And several recent American studies suggest that yoga improves symptoms of heart failure as well as anxiety and depression caused by the disease. Since 1998 several international studies have shown that pain symptoms such as back pain and headache can be relieved. Nevertheless, there are also publications that could not find such use. And critics who claim that yoga is actually harmful to the body. “Yoga - experts warn of the consequences” was the headline of the Berliner Tagesspiegel last year, and the ARD dedicated an episode of its science program “W wie Wissen” to the “dark side” of yoga. This looks even Eric Brown out. The 63-year-old is one of the most experienced and renowned yoga teachers in Munich, also a former dancer and has been practicing yoga since the 1960s. You can see that in him too. His conviction: "Yoga is more than just a glorified stretching". Because the word yoga comes from the Sanskrit terms yuga for yoke and the verb yuj. This means on the one hand tensing or harnessing the body to the soul, on the other hand also becoming one with God or the universe. Yoga is more than a back school - there is a whole philosophy behind it. And there are many different forms of it. Not all of them contain physical exercises, but they all have one thing in common: the search for inner satisfaction. “Yoga means bringing the physical, emotional and spiritual body into one,” says Brown. “I do hatha yoga because it is the best way for me to achieve this goal. Everything else: relaxation, a beautiful body, health arise as by-products. ” How does yoga heal? Brown has also learned several times that yoga can heal. In his experience, it is self-focus and letting go that do this healing. Take back pain as an example: “In many cases, pain is caused by tension. And when I let go of this tension, for example through concentrated even abdominal breathing, then a feeling of wellbeing and satisfaction arise ”. Brown is always amazed at what yoga can heal. However, one prerequisite for him is one thing: mindfulness, i.e. complete concentration on yourself and your own body. That doesn't mean that the senses are turned off completely. On the contrary: only those who pay attention to the sensations and signals of their own body can really benefit. What to turn off are the many distractions: the unpleasant car noise from outside, the neighbors coughing, the bright lights in the next room. "It is mindfulness that sets yoga apart from stretching," says Brown. And it is precisely this mindfulness that usually means that yoga does not harm your health. "Yoga is always an individual journey," says Brown, "false ambition only hurts here". The performance concept that is otherwise present everywhere in our society can and must be dropped. Yoga is not about how we want to do it or how the neighbor does it. It's just about accepting how it is and what your own body can or cannot do at that moment. Therefore, yoga is also suitable for almost everyone. If you exaggerate If it comes to injuries, it is mostly because the participants have exaggerated, the teacher knows: “Yoga can also be harmful if you don't listen to yourself and want too much all at once at the beginning. Our body is like a car. Anyone who gives full throttle every day and constantly wants to race shouldn't be surprised if the car goes on strike at some point ”. Going to the limit every now and then, enduring light tugging in muscles and tendons, is okay. But if something really hurts during an asana, then this exercise should be left out, advise Hultsch and Brown. Beginners in particular should be sensible with their own bodies. “It takes several hours to get in. You wouldn't attend a ballet class and suddenly want to dance swan lake without any previous training, ”says Brown. You should also choose your yoga teacher carefully. Anyone who wants to teach yoga themselves after a weekend course is certainly not sufficiently trained: "For example, a yoga teacher should know what happens to the head and intervertebral disc when doing a headstand," says Hultsch. “If someone is too weak, then a headstand is too dangerous.” And anyone who suffers from an acute injury such as a herniated disc should do without yoga until the injury has healed. Is Yoga a Sport? In any case, reducing it to the physical does not go far enough. If you really want to lose body fat, build muscle or improve your flexibility as quickly as possible, you should try strength training, aerobics or dancing. The yoga path is different. He seeks the connection between body and soul. Only those who are ready to embark on the journey to themselves will at some point achieve the most important goal of yoga: iInner satisfaction. As Brown says: You get beautiful, relaxed and healthy on the side.