A lot of habits we develop, the society we live in, the main focusses of media, the people we surround ourselves with and in general the way we think, leads us to become outwardly focussed. Slowly, as we continue theses habits, become absorbed in current social norms, succumb to the media push and behave the same way as those we interact with to conform in a way, we lose touch with our inner intelligence. There becomes no inward connection. That’s when we can use yoga. This holistic form of movement and meditation can be used as solid exercise but more importantly for regaining the ability to connect your body and mind to behave in synergy.
My experiences with yoga have been nothing but beneficial for every aspect of my life in terms of thought, habits, mindset, eating, exercise, strength, flexibility , relationships and health. In my opinion, regularly practicing yoga has the ability to completely change the psyche of a person and open up endless possibilities for improvement. So what is it about yoga that can foster such spiritual, mental and physical progression? It all starts with the breath, or prana!
“Breathing is the most basic rhythm upon which all other rhythms are based”.
I never learned to breathe until I started practicing yoga. As funny as it sounds, I didn’t know how to breathe. Harnessing the power of the breath, is the first step to take in order to develop an astute awareness of the mind and body and how to develop ways to synchronise the two. In my experiences, my biggest progressions in physical fitness, greatest increases in mental capacity, best improvements in daily interactions and relationships have come about from focussing on the breath. You can train like a demon, eat like a caveman, and study like a scientist but if the breath is stagnant, shallow and short (sometimes non-existent), progressions will come far slower than with free and meaningful breath. Being mindful of the breath, that is, actually focussing on the feelings, emotions, thoughts, physical sensations and connections to taking a deep inhale and long exhale, WILL reduce anxiety, it WILL establish better concentration and memory, it WILL encourage circulation, it WILL speed up healing and repair, it WILL strengthen the core, it WILL align the physical body and it WILL open the mind.
I’m no yogi, but after regularly practicing yoga you can’t look past the level of physical control that is developed as a result of yoga. There are so many poses that demonstrate the potential of the body when it moves in sync with the mind, and mastering difficult poses is empowering and motivating (to progress further). Holding a handstand in perfect stillness, doing a handstand push-up from the floor, twisting the body like a pretzel while standing on one leg with your eyes closed are movements that seem so out of reach to begin with. Playing with the body in these ways, dramatically increases strength, flexibility and focus and eventually makes seemingly unconventional, impossible actions to the body seem very realistic and conventional.
So who should practice yoga and mindful breathing? How do you know if it’s right for you? ANYONE and EVERYONE can benefit from yoga if they allow themselves the opportunity to fully embrace its meaning. The word Yoga translates to mean “to yoke”, “to unite”, “to add” or “to join”. Signs you could use some yolking, joining, adding or uniting practise are:
– You’ve had a traumatic experience
– You have the memory of a gold fish
– You’ve had or had chronic disease
– You sleep like shit
– You get anxious regularly
– You feel weak and lethargic
– You have the flexibility of a 90 year old
– You think yoga isn’t for you
– Your thoughts control your life
– You want to improve your connections with others
– You want to be more successful
It’s up to you. In this current society, we can easily continue on a path of detachment, neglecting the physiological and mental ‘right’ to be free, yet connected, yet open in mind, body and sprit. Or we can take charge of the direction of our lives, ‘make our own luck’, and be the best version of ourselves.
“Nothing is either good nor bad, it is the thinking that makes it so”.
– William Shakespeare