Aah, the mind. The final frontier of being healthy and peaceful. Mind and body are normally considered two separate entities. But yoga, body/mind are viewed as extension of each other in holistic terms. You can’t have a tensed mind in healthy or vice versa. They impact each other, because they are co-dependent. But as compared to body, mind is not easy to guide into better health. After mind is what we use to think of all the excuses in first place 🙂
Before we see how yoga works on our mind, we need to know how mind gets effected in first place. Quite simply, mind is not moving muscle, means lack of movement is not what we need to worry about here. It’s mind job to think and it does that perfectly fine.
The real problem is : Thinking is considered effortless activity with no real consumption of energy or none of mental organ being stressed.
Mind needs rest
Human brain (wiki: brain) is made up of neurons, glial cells, and blood vessels. This is physical part. There is no universally acceptable definition of what mind is, but broadly speaking (wiki again) mind is the faculty of a human being’s reasoning and thoughts. It holds the power of imagination, recognition, and appreciation, and is responsible for processing feelings and emotions, resulting in attitudes and actions. This thoughtfulness part is what drives most of brain to act. Mind keeps on jumping from one thought to other, and it uses physical neurons to stay active.
Even for normal functioning of brain, it requires around quarter of oxygen with each breath. Imagine, what happens when it is stressed for few times a day, however trivial the issue? Where do you think, that extra energy requirement is coming from? And what is sacrificed for that?
An interesting read here is “Selfish Brain Thoery”
This over worked, over stretched mind of ours needs rest. period.
So how will yoga help ?
Just to be clear,this post isn’t about preaching. It’s not about sitting and imagining yourself out of that just think imagine, Yoga is practical approach to being healthy which is based on observation and practice. If you force your mind to relax, it will resist. The only way is to bring its focus on simple thing and then allow it to relax there. This is where even simple asana practice from yoga is effective enough.
How? : When you hold any asana in class (of self practice), you need to focus on your breathing, your posture. You need to be aware to see that you are doing it right. Breathing needs to be calmed down. This act itself, in each asana of class, makes our mind to slow down to present. All other thoughts slowly take back seat, at least for the duration of class. This, along with deep gentle breathing that happens during asana practice, is all it takes to slow down the mental activity (along with body).
Also because deep breathing is happening when we hold the asana, oxygen supply to brain is also better. And, as each yoga class is recommended to end with savasana , this nourishment gets to the deepest part of both mind/brain and body.
The reason, that it is easy to ignore these simple effectiveness of yoga is because, well, they are simple. But that doesn’t mean they are not effective. So, next time when you practice, observe yourself. Relax your breath. And then see how, over the span of few classes itself, you will experience better you.
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