MENTAL STRETCHES WITH YOGA
Have you ever pondered when was the last time you took time off to pause and reflect? Like the relentless movies of Fast and Furious, our lives are similar. Often, we find ourselves jumping from one activity to another, balancing multiple tasks constantly Like the Eagles, who sang long ago about Life in the fast lane, aren’t we all guilty of practicing it?
Welsh poet W. H. Davies wrote at the turn of the last century –
What is this life if, full of care
We have no time to stand and stare?
With this constant ‘On’ switch mode, how do our brains cope?
Hit the pause button!
During one of inspiring TED talk in 2012, Andy Puddicombe – a mindfulness and meditation expert, asked his audience when the last time they did nothing for at least 10 minutes. The link to the talk can be found here –
The present moment is much underrated with our minds either harping on the past or the future that the present whizzes by, becoming the past. To enjoy the present, it is necessary to train the mind. One of the techniques that we can use is to practice Yin Yoga and meditation that helps us to observe the passing thoughts, rather than becoming the thought. Meditation and inward focus through Yin Yoga techniques has shown to reduce stress, bring focus and help people sleep better. It provides an opportunity to take a step back, observe life and slowly reduce the need to analyze constantly and free the brain to let go.
Stretch into Yin Yoga
Yin Yoga practitioner Bernie Clark believes that Yin is truly in! Balance is needed everywhere in life. The essence of all Yoga is the cultivation of attention. Both the attention and the attitude with which we attend influence our experience. To balance the daily demands of a Yang life (movement of muscle in our normal routine) , a practice of stillness, such as meditation or Yin Yoga practice brings about an appreciation of living in the moment.
There have been some studies done by various institutes of repute to illustrate the mental benefits associated with meditation or Yoga practice. While considerably more study may require to be carried out, the health and wellbeing benefit to our brain by a regular work out involving stillness, breathing, meditation that can all be achieved via Yin Yoga is immense.
Yoga for stress and brain relief
A study in 2018 by Harvard Health Publishing – Yoga for Anxiety and Depression found that Hatha Yoga practice gives benefits that don’t merely end at your brain, as practitioners also exhibited decreased physiological arousal, resulting in lowered blood pressure and reduced heart rates. As we have seen in almost every class of Lifestyle Yoga, all classes have certain asanas (postures) with controlled breathing techniques culminating in a period of relaxation / inward focusing meditation. This is the process to train our mind to bring about meaningful stillness leading to mindfulness.
As Jon Kabat-Zinn is the founder of the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School said – Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing. Meditation helps in overcoming or controlling our reactions and resist distractions. One of foremost exponents of Yoga B.K.S. Iyengar said that “We must create a marriage between the awareness of the body and that of the mind. When two parties do not cooperate, there is unhappiness on both sides.” Meditation is that oneness between body and mind and when that is achieved, your mental state of health improves.
Yoga Asanas and Pranayama for a super brain
Here are some suggested practices that you can do to super charge your brain –
Bhramri Pranayam (Humming Bee Sound)
•Calms the mind
•Breathes out negative energy
•Improves concentration and memory
Paschimottanasana (Forward Bend)
- Stretches the spine, helps relieve stress
- Relaxes the mind by removing negative emotions like irritability and anger
Halasana (Plough Pose)
•Helps improve blood flow to the brain and calm the nervous system
•Stretches the back and neck, reducing stress and fatigue
Sethubandasana (Bridge Pose)
- Strengthens and stretches the neck and spine
- Improves blood circulation to the brain
Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
•Regulates and normalizes the functioning of thyroid and parathyroid glands
•Nourishes the brain due to inversion
Let us focus on brain health which is as important as our physical health. So, add a little mindfulness regimen to your physical workout – a small step for your legs but certainly a giant leap for your brain.
Namaste & Love
Lifestyle Yoga Team.