How does a movement and yoga practice effect your life?
It’s easy to imagine that when you start to pay attention to the health of your body and the health of your mind that everything should simply just fall into place and you’ll be living the easy life of your favourite Instagram influencer in no time, right? Well, maybe. But more-often-than-not changing your lifestyle (and your stress levels) means changing your mindset, your habits and committing to one or more practices that actually support you in how you want to feel in your life. It may not always be easy to begin with, but it will be worth it in the long run.
Let’s look at a few of these practices now.
Yoga and Movement
Yep, it’s first on the list for a very good reason. Yoga has been proven to positively effect, not only your physical health, but your mental and spiritual health too. How? Well, it’s not just about making shapes with your body and proving to everyone how bendy you are (although that can be fun too). The system of yoga contains cues that will allow you to live your very best life. Any type of daily movement or exercise can be used to find clarity of the mind, ease in your breath and can help you to more easily move through periods of stress in your life.
The trick is to move with intention.
In yoga, we aim to move in one direction with a breath in, and in another direction with a breath out. The beauty of this practice is that it requires us to stay connected to each moment as it passes. When practiced regularly, this allows us to have a flow-on effect into our daily lives. When we are moving through our days with intention, noticing each moment as it passes, we have less space for stress and anxiety. This means that even when we’re not directly practicing physical yoga poses we can be incorporating its benefits into our lives so that we have a richer experience in general.
Incorporating wisdom that has been passed down for centuries, yoga will teach you how to live with compassion for yourself and others. This brings a sense of inner peace. Yoga teaches you safely how to move your body in order to become strong, aware and resilient. This brings a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. Yoga teaches you specific ways of breathing (known as pranayama), so that you are not just unconsciously surviving one breath to the next. It will teach you how to calm your mind, again so that you can find a sense of inner peace throughout anything that is happening in your day.
The mental health benefits that are gained from a regular yoga and/or movement practice cannot be overstated. It must be said that these benefits are not necessarily only gained from what you might consider a traditional yoga practice. Any type of movement, when practiced safely, regularly, with intention and paying attention can offer these same benefits.
Surely, we all know how to breathe, right? We do it sub-consciously every minute of every day. Well, that’s true in its most basic sense, but perhaps the fact that many of us only breathe sub-consciously is where the disconnect between surviving and thriving lies.
Pranayama is offered in many yoga and wellness studios. It is one of the most important skills that you can learn. Breathing with awareness and finding some sense of control of our breath often brings a deep sense of calm into our entire being.
When we practice any kind of pranayama, we are literally controlling our life-force. We are controlling how much breath enters and leaves our lungs, and in what way. Why would you want to do that? Well, controlling the breath helps our nervous system to relax, and a relaxed nervous system means a healthier function of our body and mind. A healthier function of our body and mind means we are less likely to get sick, we are less likely to feel negative effects of stress, and it gives us a tool that we can come to at any time of the day to bring ourselves under control. Whether it’s a stressful day at work, road rage, anything that makes you feel stressed, practicing a control of your breath is one of the quickest ways for you to come back into feeling centred, more aware and calmer.
Breathing well is one of (if not the most) important bodily function we have. This means that when we are able to stop and consciously begin to control our breath it sends a signal to our brain that everything is ok. Think about it. When our breath is short and sharp, we experience all sorts of other less-than-pleasant sensations in our body too. We might have cold hands and feet, pins and needles, overwhelming fear. But even if we’re in a heightened state of stress or anxiety, having the ability to slow our breath can quickly bring us back to being calmer.
Feeling calm is one of the best feelings on the planet. And it’s in our grasp to be able to feel it, come back to it at any time.
Speaking of feeling calm and centred, it would be amiss not to mention meditation here. A regular meditation practice can help to simply slow everything down. In a world that always seems to want everything to go faster, the ability to go within, and go slow is like a superpower.
Being able to carve out anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes each day for meditation will see you making more conscious decisions, finding space within your ‘busy’, feeling less anxiety over the little things. You’ll notice that with time you’ll start to feel less overwhelmed, less tense, more focused and calmer. Not to mention that when you start to meditate you start being able to connect with yourself on a deeper level. This means that you’ll finally begin to understand the habits and tendencies you have which will lead to you being able to change anything that is not serving you. Things like telling yourself you’re not good enough, or being overly critical, or having a million thoughts right before you try to drift off to sleep. Once you become more aware of what’s going on in your mind you have the power to harness your thoughts for good. Not just for yourself, but for others too.
Giving yourself space and time to move, meditate, breathe well and become more mindful every day is a skill that will see your quality of life increase in such a positive way, that there’s no doubt that you’ll want to share it with others. If you want to learn more about moving well, in a holistic way, we highly recommend heading on over to see Damien at The Movement Improvement Clinic. Damien is an osteopath and we trust him to help us out with all of our integrated therapy needs.