Like most of us, you’ve probably been through your share of pain. Whether it’s the physical aches of fibromyalgia, the emotional trauma of divorce or the grief of losing a loved one, no one is spared of life’s challenges. In this post I’ll share my 6 ways yoga will put you on the path to peace.
If you are looking to achieve a more peaceful state of mind, consider giving yoga a try. While yoga is often touted for its physical benefits, this ancient practice is equally potent for rejuvenating the spirit, especially when it’s done mindfully.
Taking the time to pause and nourish yourself in the company of other like-minded people can be all it takes to give you a fresh perspective on life. Here are six ways a mindfulness yoga practice can be the key to a more balanced and joyful life.
*Yoga helps support mental clarity.
Regular practice teaches you to calm restless thoughts. Resting awareness on the sensation of the breath brings attention away from everyday worries and concerns and helps to control destructive thoughts. Yoga teaches you to observe these thoughts and remove judgment, rather than dwell on them. The slow, deep breathing actually stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system – the one that calms us down. The breath can be a powerful tool for influencing our sense of well-being.
*The practice of yoga can help you feel more balanced and at ease in your body by improving posture.
By feeling our feet on the floor, we are cultivating a sense of being grounded. And by inviting the spine to lengthen and our chest to open with relaxed shoulders, we cultivate a sense of comfort and confidence in how we move and feel in our bodies. How we hold and carry our bodies can directly affect our everyday life experience as well as our transition through the aging process. A good posture can also help us counter the negative hunched-over effect texting currently has on the alignment of our bodies.
*A regular practice makes you more aware of your surroundings.
In today’s hectic lifestyle we often think too much and forget about the joy of just being in the moment and noticing what is around us – whether it’s a child’s laugh, the scent of freshly cut grass, or your mother’s smile. Our lives are comprised of, and enriched by many fleeting moments that often go unnoticed as we power through our day.
*Yoga encourages self-acceptance.
Practicing regularly can be an effective way to develop a positive self-image by allowing us to slow down the inner critic as we observe that the negative voices in our heads are not necessarily the reality. It helps us to listen more to the wisdom of our own inner voice, finding comfort and strength from within, and feeling more appreciation for all the good things about ourselves.
*Practicing yoga releases chronic tension and stress.
A number of studies have shown that yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety through its practice of stretching, controlled breathing and relaxation. Yoga quells the fluctuations of the mind and slows down the mental loops of frustration, regret, anger and fear that can cause stress. And since stress is implicated in so many health issues – from headaches and insomnia to skin disorders, high blood pressure and heart attacks – if you learn to quiet your mind, alleviating the tension, you’ll be likely to live longer and healthier.
*Yoga promotes mindfulness and being more mindful improves your relationships.
It makes you more conscious of how you are interacting with others and helps you pay more attention to what others are saying and how you are responding. A regular practice helps develop compassion and equanimity. Along with yogic philosophy’s emphasis on avoiding harm to others and being truthful, this may improve many of your relationships.
And while yoga is rich in mental and emotional benefits, don’t disregard its physical perks too. Practicing yoga regularly can give you more energy, tone your muscles and release stuck stress, maintain or increase range of motion, relax, restore and prevent injuries and promote balance – all of which lead to better health as well as support your body and mind through your day-to-day activities as well as any sports you may participate in.
Yoga is fantastic for athletes! It is one of the only practices that addresses and supports all of the major muscle groups during one session. It restores the bodies of athletes and enhances their performance by enabling them to use their bodies more effectively and efficiently, literally unlocking joints and tight muscles to enable them to be utilized at peak efficiency, and most importantly – preventing potential injury. Yoga also provides focus and calm for athletes during performance by training the mind to be still and the breath to be relaxed. Indeed, many football teams (including the Seahawks and Giants) utilize yoga as part of their regular training.
Yoga improves your overall sense of well-being and supports whatever activities you are passionate about. And it just feels so good! It brings greater physical ease, peace and a sense of contentment into our lives. So take a moment to stop, to take a breath and commit to a regular yoga practice. Practicing with others also creates community and support in our current high-demand business and personal world.
Cheryl received her yoga teaching certification at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, Mass. She also holds certifications in Mindfulness Yoga, Yoga Warriors International, which addresses the needs of veterans and others with PTSD, and Adaptive Yoga for MS. She is a member of the Kripalu Yoga Teachers Assoc. and Yoga Alliance and is currently working on her Master Yoga Teacher Certification. For more information contact her at email@example.com.
Cheryl will be teaching at KyV Farm during this coming 2015-2016 farm season. Don’t miss your chance to become a CSA member! Click here to join.