meditatin132x118In Eastern philosophical systems like Buddhism, Taoism, and the Vedic traditions of India, longevity is viewed as a meaningful goal in a spiritual life.

by Frances Lefkowitz

Nurture Energy
The essential life force energy–called prana in the Vedic traditions, and qi or chi in the Chinese–is the foundation of Eastern belief systems. The cultivation, conservation, and regulation of this energy are crucial for physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Rhythmic breathing techniques (pranayama) and moving meditation practices including yoga and Chinese disciplines like tai chi and qigong (which literally means “energy skill”) all help generate energy and make it flow properly, unclogging blockages in the body and sending it to places where it’s needed.Life force is a precious and sacred commodity, so these practices emphasize the conservation and recycling of energy. By releasing tension in the muscles and the mind, even everyday movements–walking, talking, eating–can become more energy-efficient.

“To rejuvenate through yoga, the goal is to do the minimum amount of work necessary to circulate the body’s energy,” says Scott Blossom, O.M.D, a San Francisco-based yoga therapist and ayurvedic practitioner. He calls relaxation “the forgotten skill” and encourages people to relearn it through meditation, yoga, and paying attention to every movement.

All standing yoga poses are rejuvenating, but Shoulderstand is particularly invigorating; it improves circulation and stimulates the thyroid, which regulates metabolism. Because of the balance required and the risk of strain on the neck and spine, it’s considered a difficult pose. This modified version lets you utilize a wall for support; make sure you breathe deeply and comfortably throughout.
1. Position a yoga mat at the base of a wall, placing a folded blanket on the mat a couple of feet from the wall. Lie down, then raise your legs up against the wall; your buttocks should be near the wall, with your back and shoulders on the blanket and your neck and head resting on the mat. Press your arms and hands, palms down, on the mat pointing toward the wall.
2. Bend your knees slightly so the soles of your feet are flat on the wall and your hips, butt, and lower back rise up off the floor. Roll your shoulders and arms inward, underneath you, and then, bending at the elbows, place your palms on your lower back for support.
3. Slowly walk your feet up the wall until your knees are straight. Relax and breathe; after about a minute, walk your feet back down the wall to bent knees, and gently lower all the way. Keep your neck long and your chin neutral, and avoid turning your head to either side.