In our last blog, we discussed some of the physical benefits of Yoga and how Yoga is actually doing our bodies a favour. This time, let's explore the benefits that yoga can bring us to our mind. Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha.
"The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga." - Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Book 1 Sutra 2
In recent years, yoga has immensely grown in popularity, partly because of its important health benefits, physically as well as psychologically. Due to this increased attention on yoga, much research has been conducted to bring clarity to the specific benefits yoga can offer.
- Everything Is Connected - The Body, The Mind & The Spirit
Research has found that yoga can support us to heal and balance our lives. It has shown to soothe our sympathetic nervous system activity. Our sympathetic nervous system was evolutionally vital for us in early days of being a human (being). It's still called “fight or flight” response that causes the body to raise the heart rate and blood pressure, resulting in heightened feelings of alertness.
Since yoga places great emphasis on the breath connection, it creates a moving-breathing-meditation that allows us to activate of our parasympathetic nervous system – the one that is our “rest and digest” response. Thus, yoga gives us time to breathe with more awareness and digest information in a effective and restful manner.
"Waking up the feeling body - Quieting the thinking mind" - Larry Schultz
By moving the body through the sequences of poses, as is the case with the It's Yoga Rocket® routines, the body produces serotonin, a brain chemical that is known to make us happy. It has shown that taking 20 minutes of yoga practice a day can change our brain functioning and lift the levels of this feel-good-hormone. By breathing deeply and practicing breath control "Pranayama" exercises, we allow the body to reduce its nervous system activity and the brain to get a break. We become in tune with ourselves and our surroundings, as we become to be a witnesser of our emotional state. Yoga can give us an opportunity to feel calm, relaxed and content after each practice.
It's about Self - realization
Yoga practice is serving a different purpose for different practitioners, as it allows everyone to take from the practice what they need. Some of the commonly cited benefits are:
Relaxation and peacefulness: being calm is our natural state of being human that allows us to approach life with greater energy and take on challenges in healthier ways. Yoga does not take time, it gives time.
Mindfulness: as we tune into our breath and start to become aware of the nature of our mind, we learn to appreciate where we are at the ‘moment of now’. Practice of gratefulness can direct us to feel contect towards our lives. A yoga practice can support us to build tranquility and approach all situations from a place of contentment and trust.
Compassion: for ourselves and towards others. This is greatly related the first limb of Ashtanga yoga – the Yamas. The Yamas, ethical observations that teach us about non-violence, contentment, truth and moderation. By feeling compassion towards ourselves, we learn to love ourselves, and act towards ourselves and others from this place of love.
Confidence: this can be the result of tuning in to our truth and proceeding with greater purpose. Building confidence is greatly associated with the second limb of Ashtanga yoga – the Niyamas, self-observations. As we become aware of our actions and movement on the mat, we become aware of our actions and movements off the mat too.
All of these benefits that we learned on our mat, can be carried with us to "real life". As we tune inwards and become loving, compassionate, relaxed and confident, we begin to interact with others around us from those BEing qualities and ultimately create harmony to way we relate our lives within and with others.
As we move with awareness and intention on the mat, we begin to move with awareness and intention off the mat, as well.
The truth is the two are not separate – yoga and life – but rather the same. Our practice merely serves as a tool to live every aspect of our life the same way we do on the mat. The invitation Yoga gives us is to UNITE it all together. One breath at a time, we are then practicing yoga, always - and in all ways.
Nowhere to go, we are all there already -
When the time is right, take a look at this film of "The Science behind Yoga" (Full movie from the trailer)