There actually is a Fountain of Youth. We do not, however, have to trek into some deep Amazonian forest to find it. The living spring of bodily rejuvenation is located in the human body itself.
Contemporary hatha yoga practice is intended to serve the balance and flexibility of the body. The regular and correct application of yoga postures serves this purpose quite well. Much of the hatha yoga now practiced in the modern world comes from adept yogis who lived in the area that is now known as Kashmir, India. Their primary interest in developing these yoga systems, however, was not to create bodily flexibility. They practiced these techniques in order to attain deep states of relaxation, concentration and to significantly extend the length and duration of a human lifetime.
The principles upon which this longevity yoga is based are as sound today as they were yesterday. Once the natural laws of the body, the earth and the cosmos are observed and understood, they can be applied then for healing and right living. There is no mercy in nature, Native Americans were taught. Only the laws of nature exist. When those laws are ignored then suffering and disease increases. And when those laws are understood and applied, then healing and rejuvenation takes place.
Over the years modern research has confirmed much of what these ancient practitioners understood about extending the health and well being of the human body. It is not necessary to spend years practicing in an isolated cave as some of our ancestors did in order to get results. Those days are for the most part over. But these principles and practices can be applied in ordinary pleasurable ways to create health, harmony and well being. The practice of right living then, awakens the mercy in the human heart.
The Foundation of Ancient Longevity Yoga
Every human heart comes preprogrammed with a certain amount of beats, or so the modern research is telling us. Once those billions of heartbeats have sounded their sound and done their work, the time of that particular heart is done. Slowing the heart rate then becomes a prime strategy for giving us more years for our beats, and the yogis of India understood this fact. One of the first scientific demonstrations made by accomplished yogis Swami Rama and Swami Yogananda when they first came to the West was their ability to intentionally slow the heart rate.
The breath is the key to slowing the heart rate. The more effectively our breathing oxygenates venous blood, the less work the heart has to do. So the yogis developed more effective ways of breathing, they reduced the amount of toxins that were allowed to enter the bloodstream and practiced a host of techniques, from meditation to yoga postures, practices that harmonized the peripheral nervous system and slowed heart rate. The greatest of the yogis could stop their breathing for extended periods of time.
The Best Results were Attained when there was Intensive Practice in all Three Phases of the Process.
The first phase is called Purification and it pertains to the blood. The law is simple in this matter. When the blood is pure and free of toxins the heart rate slows because there is less oxygenating work to do. The cells of the body are constantly nourished with pure blood, inflammation is reduced, and all that heart work slows down. Therefore, right and pure diet, eating foods that are free of toxicity, maintains blood purity, which is the rock upon which all the practices of longevity yoga are based.
The second phase is called Rebalancing and it pertains to the nervous system. The peripheral nervous system is autonomic; it keeps working without any voluntary commands. It is, however, directly effected by both external and internal stimuli as well as the toxic load in the blood. Adept practitioners of longevity yoga, therefore liked to practice their rebalancing breathing techniques in quiet and solitary places, to reduce all those stimulations that turn the balanced hum of the autonomic nervous system into a stressful discordant pulse. Once blood purity is established then the breath becomes the main instrument for longevity yogis to play.
The key to longevity breathing then is long, slow, deep, feeling inhalations that not only consume large quantities of oxygen but they draw in a great quality of Qi. Accomplished longevity yogis do not just breath in air, they breath in the universal Qi upon which all life depends. This is accomplished with deep feeling breathing. The Qi is contacted, drawn in, and conducted through the application of deep feeling and breathing. Exhalation and inhalation are almost equalized with a slight preference given to the inhalation. Always take in a bit more than you give out with the breath.
The third phase is called Rejuvenation and it pertains to the endocrine system which is ultimately the secret spring of rejuvenation. All that energy wasted and thrown away in a stressed out nervous system, relaxes down, harmonizes, and pushes back into the endocrine system. All that pure blood flows into the glands as well. The body’s regenerative chemistry starts to flow as the machinery works less.
The yogis of Kashmir all had their powerful endocrine tonics . Ingesting the pure nutrition of nature, the very molecules upon which the body thrives ensures that the endocrine system is supplied with all of the necessary precursors that it requires to do its magical work. Ashwaganda, Shilajit, Triphala are just some of the many herbs and combination of herbs that longevity yogis have used to prime the Fountain of Youth. Traditional Botanical Medicine’s Somalata formula combines these classical longevity herbs in one tablet. The combination is a considered to be one of the most powerful naturally occurring hormonal tonics.
See The Tao of Rejuvenation for a comprehensive consideration of longevity yoga.