Yoga column: Healthy balancing act for both your body and mind
Yoga is a 3,000- year-old tradition that is relevant to our lives today. It’s fascinating, and comforting, to know that 3,000 years ago our minds were doing pretty much the same things that they are today.
Yoga in the West is becoming increasingly popular and unsurprisingly over the past 18 months has helped many people to better manage their mental and physical health.
So why is Yoga so great? Yoga helps you to ...
Yoga helps us to feel better in our bodies and minds. Yoga means ‘union of body and mind’ and it does just that. There are different elements of yoga and the physical practice is just a part of a much greater whole. But whatever your practice looks like, it’s likely you’ll experience immediate benefits that help your body and mind to feel better. For me, whether it’s an asana practice, a dose of yoga philosophy or sitting in meditation, it always helps to ground me, and to get me out of my head and into my body.
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By becoming better connected to all the different parts of our bodies, this in turn helps us to treat ourselves a little kinder and move with more ease and grace. So often, we are busy trying to do a hundred things at once, and this pushing and forcing can cause us to hurt ourselves. How many times have you stumped your toe or knocked your arm or shoulder on something when you’ve been in a rush? Yoga teaches us to slow down and move a little more mindfully.
When we start to feel better in our bodies and minds, it can become a little addictive. Life becomes quieter and slower and this encourages us to take more rest. We start to notice the small things, like when you’re becoming irritable or tired, or stress and tension is starting to creep in. These things may have been normalised by our society, but they aren’t normal, and they are signs and symptoms that you need to take a break. Whether that be a cup of tea, a warm bubble bath, or just sitting idle and watching the clouds go by. Find ways to fill up your tanks whenever you notice them depleting.
When we slow down and better connect to our bodies and minds, it gives our nervous system the chance to take a break. You’ve probably heard of the idea of fight or flight and rest or digest. The former occurs when the sympathetic nervous system is activated, often associated with living with stress, tension and resistance. You are in a state of high alert and sure you could run away from a sabre toothed tiger, but you certainly can’t begin to digest your lunch! Rest and relaxation helps our nervous system to shift to the parasympathetic side. This is where your body starts to heal, to digest, and to regenerate.
A key element of yoga philosophy is that when we start to take care of ourselves, we are in a much better position to begin to take care of others. A happier, healthier you, will experience greater compassion and gratitude, which in turn will lead to better relationships. These relationships may be romantic, but can also be with your children, other family members, friends, work colleagues and even just people you pass by on the street.
A lot of the physical yoga postures that are practiced in an asana class can be categorized as jnana poses - these relate to things like balance, stretching of the spine and twists. By doing these postures we are stimulating chemicals in our brain which help us to be more focused, they lead to increased productivity, motivation and creativity. So, whatever your work, yoga will help.
How can I get involved?
Join us at The Frog Project. An international online yoga community of wonderfully warm teachers and students, all with the same goals as listed above. If even one of our 6 reasons resonates with you, then why not give it a shot.
We have a 15-day free trial that you can sign up to at www.thefrogproject.org/get-started.