In an earlier blog post, we’ve written about the physical benefits yoga provides. You become more flexible and develop incredible core strength. But yoga’s benefits stretch much farther than it’s physical commonalities. Yoga is a great mind and body workout.
How Yoga Benefits the Mind
When one first takes up the practice of yoga, the stretches can seem daunting. How can it be possible to move one’s body in that way? Rest assured, you’ll never be asked to over do it or push yourself to your limit. While there’s a time and a place to dig deep and practice that movement you’ve been itching to master, as a beginner, you’ll be asked to attempt much smaller goals. In fact, practitioners will push you to move slower, to build a strong foundation. As you practice more, the stretches become easier.
This important beginning phase has a lot of lessons to offer. One of the earliest things you’re asked to master in Yoga is the act of breathing deeply. You’re also asked to quiet your mind and let yourself focus on the task in front of you. While this may seem difficult or even scary to try, mindfulness is rooted to yoga’s foundation.
Intro to Mindfulness
Why practice mindfulness? This combination of intentional breathing and a quieted mind can alleviate many of the stressors and anxieties we face everyday. While mindfulness may seem like a trending topic, it’s origins date back to early Eastern religious practices.
The goal of mindfulness is simple. Calmness. When one is calm, one is able to better deal with emotional aspects and restless thoughts. When one practices mindfulness for a few minutes a day, like in a yoga class, that practice slowly bleeds out into rest of one’s life. Before you know it, you’re better equip to handle stressful situations when they arise.
Yoga’s focus on mindfulness allows the practitioner to better understand the connection between her mind and her body. This connection, when fully realized, allows us to live healthier, happier, and less stressed lives. In yoga, it’s all about balance. When you’re balancing the weight of your body on your hands, you’re also allowing the weight of the world to shift off your shoulders. With each deep breath, you’re harnessing the powerful energy that lies within you to build you foundation. With each exhale, you’re sending out all negative thoughts, emotions, even pain.
It’s not surprising that yoga is a great way to treat emotional or mental disorders. In fact, many integrative therapists jump to yoga as the first line of defense for their patients. The empowering practice allows users to tame their minds while improving their mood. And because yoga is a gentle exercise, it has the potential to yield high results at a very low risk. Yoga can be a great practice to undertake before subscribing to an antidepressant drug. While modern medicine has the ability to heal a myriad of ailments, its success can also spur major negative side effects.
With yoga, there are very few risks: one practices the movements with ease and with intention. It’s not uncommon for people to experience Yoga and relay that experience as healing or healthful.