The benefits of yoga for flexibility, strength, and endurance are fairly well known but (unfortunately) less publicized is the effects that yoga has on mental state. Recent studies from the Boston University School of Medicine and Dartmouth Medical School have revealed what most people who have done yoga already know – yoga improves mood! Particularly the studies revealed that yoga tends to reduce anxiety. Our 100-mile-an-hour Albertan pace of life often takes a toll. Work demands more than full time hours, advertisers scream for our attention, all our various devices ding, sing, and ring to remind us to go to this meeting, text that person, it all keeps us running, running,running. Fortunately, there are at least three mental health habits that we can cultivate in yoga that are conspicuously absent from our everyday life: Breathing, centering, sweating.
Considering we cannot go more than a few minutes without oxygen, it seems odd to say that we do not breathe in our everyday life. Yet yogis will tell you that breathing is one of the most difficult habits we attempt to cultivate in yoga practice. Most people are not in the habit of using their breath to calm, relax, and empower. Yoga helps us to cultivate our breath and tap in to the power it represents. The calming effects of breathing are powerful!
In our ultra-busy world taking even an hour to center yourself is precious. The opportunity to indwell a place of silence, concentration, and calmness allows our mind to have a few moments where there are no demands beyond the mat. Rather than having your mind being pulled by a hundred stresses at once, in yoga you take to the mat with only one focus – having an excellent practice. Moments of serenity where you truly know that you are doing the one thing that you need to do all the anxiety to melt away.
Who doesn’t love to sweat! We have become so surrounded by automation that it becomes difficult to be active in our day to day lives. Though none of us would want to give up our car and walk through winter temperatures of -40, there is something that we miss by having inactive bodies. Yoga – especially hot yoga – lets you come to the mat and get the workout your body craves! With so much tension and anxiety residing in the body – not the mind – something as simple as a sweat can be all you need.
As you continue down your journey to health wholeness we wish you peace and calmness.
See you on the mat!