Yoga, Ayurveda and acro yoga in Budapest - classes, philosophy also in English

2010. szeptember 18., szombat

Forever young! – Yoga without age limit

While in India, I was confronted with a strange idea. Once, I had a conversation with a young IT specialist from Bangalore, she was in her twenties, and as she heard what kind of kriyas, or purifying exercises I was doing and how seriously I took my yoga practice, she was totally stunned: “Well, you can be 100 per cent sure that a modern Indian would not do the same. Anyways, yoga is for old folks.” Hm, so if I understand correctly, according to everyday Indians of today, yoga is an easy bodily exercise and as such boring for the young.
Funnily enough, I experienced the same attitude in my Indian family where the sister of my adopted little brother was also honestly surprised that I gave up my career as a lawyer to come to India and to learn yoga, which practice,  in their view, was only for the old apparently.

It must be added, that after this argument I showed them and the kids a couple of “easy” asanas. In India I love it that you always have so many kids running around in a family. As we started practicing, the adults of my age were just hunching and sighing, “oh this is difficult, wow you are amazing”, and the children were getting so excited that the parents had a hard time getting me back from the little ones. The kids wanted more yoga, but the adults wanted more talk with me about it. I love it when I am so popular.

Fine, so yoga is for the elderly. Hm, however Mysore, Goa and even Rishikesh was full of enthusiastic young “westerners” who, no matter how much time or money it required, just wanted to enrich their yoga knowledge. So the situation in the West is totally different. Sometimes I wonder that as yoga becomes more and more trendy and they try to make it even more popular by showing more beautiful youngsters with perfect bodies, this might be intimidating for the older generations. They look at a young kid with a super supple body and I already hear them say, “ah leave me alone, I am old for this”. Yet, especially as we are growing older we should put more focus on our body and our health.

Last weekend, it was the first ever Yoga Festival in Budapest. It was held on the rooftop of one of the biggest shopping malls in the city, Westend City Center, and even the weather promoted the occasion as it got sunny and warm after a week of heavy rains and cold. It was nice to see how many people came. Moreover, it was a real pleasure to notice that all age groups were richly represented. It was a beautifully diverse big crowd of visitors. The teachers were mostly in their thirties and I was one of those lucky ones who were invited to teach on the festival. I was supposed to teach Sun salutations in the tent of Asram yoga centre, and I must admit, as the hour was coming I got stage fright, so to distract myself I walked around looking into the different tents here and there. I saw Moni Lenkefi teaching some nice dynamic yoga (Yoga Synergy), everyone was young there and full of life and energy. But among the audience, I noticed an old man who engaged himself in some weird exercise. He was just swinging his arms. I had to look twice to finally understand that from the distance, he was just trying to follow the instruction of the Etka yoga class in the tent two more tents down on the road.
Yes, wow, a tent which is full of older people, at least twenty of them, all well beyond 50 and they are all practicing. They were grinning and their face glow with happiness. Of course, this is Etka yoga. Yes, not only the West can be proud of such famous and inspiring yoginis like Vanda Scaravelli. I will tell you more about her later in this post. But we have our Hungarian miracle. Etka Anyo. An active, energetic and vital 90 year old yoga granny who enjoys life with such an “elan” that young people could envy. Although she was not leading the class this time, but she was there and participated. At last, I could see her in person.

But as I read about her on the net, she was not always like this. She was born with many physical handicaps like a weak heart and an open spine with serious deformities, but at the age of 55, suffering from many ailments, she decided that this could not go on, and she needed a change. Ignoring the warnings of the doctors that banned her from all types of sports even in her younger years, she started yoga and then slowly developed her own Etka yoga style and special breathing therapy. And see the miracle, she is totally healthy, despite her age she is doing perfect splits, and her personal magnetism and femininity is ever so strong, that after I finished successfully my sun salutations class, I saw her strolling down with an old man holding some kind of Nordic walking sticks in their hands. (This is also one of her methods.)

Honestly guys, she is truly inspiring. I just hear myself as I used to say long ago that the perfect answer to the question “What would you like to be?” would be for me: a happy and energetic granny. For, there is no greater victory in life than to get old with dignity, happiness, and keeping our full potential and energy. If someone achieves this, then this comes from the power of the soul, and it is an apparent sign of infinite wisdom. 

And here comes the other “doyenne”, Vanda Scaravelli. The accomplished pianist and the wife of a philosophy professor. This lady hosted Krishnamurti, the great Indian philosopher in her villa in Switzerland.  And who came there every morning to give yoga lessons to Krishnamurti? Yes, no one less than B.K.S. Iyengar himself. That is how they got to know each other, and although she passed her 40th birthday already, Vanda started yoga. Later on she also studied breathing from T.K.V. Desikachar and finally she came up with her own revolutionary simple approach, based on her own experiences, the Scaravelli yoga (Awakening the Spine). It is amazing to see her demonstrating the hardest asanas even in her 80’s with such ease and flexibility in her body. If you want to know more, here is a beautiful interview with Vanda Scaravelli:

Well, yes, at the end it might be true that yoga is for old folks. If beyond 40 you still have another 40 years of yoga practice waiting for you, then we really have a lot to learn from these amazing ever greens. Go for it!

2 megjegyzés:

  1. Wow, what an amazing and inspiring post. I love hearing your stories, especially because of the legal connection. There was a huge story about a granny yoga teacher in Australia as well. I love them!

  2. THank you. So nice you were here again. You see my Mum is 70 now and sometimes I feel ashamed next to her:)