Yoga for a Healthy Mind: The Physical Exercise is Just the Beginning
Feb 01, 2012 01:56PM
By Beth Davis
Yoga is a science that has been practiced for thousands of years and consists of observations and principles about the mind and body connection that are now being proven by modern medicine. Though it is often thought of as a fitness exercise, the physical benefits are only the beginning.
Yoga is aimed to unite the mind, body and spirit through meditation, breathing and physical postures. This integrated approach leads to ultimate physical health and happiness together with the achievement of mental peace and tranquility. In other words, yoga creates not only a healthy body, but also a healthy mind.
Amy Thomas, a psychotherapist and nationally certified yoga instructor at Flourish Yoga, says taking care of our body through physical fitness helps calm the mind; and a calm mind is a healthy one. “Yoga helps us still our thoughts and have a clearer, calmer, more peaceful existence while awake,” she explains. “If our thoughts and mind are peaceful, then it positively affects our physical health.”
In fact, several recent studies documenting yoga’s psychological benefits suggest that yoga may help strengthen social attachments, reduce stress, and relieve anxiety, depression and insomnia. Yoga has also been shown to improve mood, concentration, memory and self-acceptance.
So just how do we take the time to slow down from the hustle and bustle of life? Thomas recognizes that it can be difficult. “We get so caught up in things we should be doing instead of living in the moment and finding peace in that moment,” she notes. She suggests finding the yoga practice that is right for you.
“There are so many different styles and approaches—from gentle to fast-paced—so it is important to take the time to find what works,” she notes. “Most importantly, don’t give up. Decide what it is you want from your yoga practice and ask an instructor for advice. You may not find that clarity of mind right away, but with regular practice it will all come together.”