Although many people enjoy their yoga practice for the physical health benefits, it is not unequal to one or more reasons to see how yoga influences the mind for many mental health benefits.
In recent years, yoga and other mind-body practices have been a topic of interest to researchers in the field of psychology, exploring their benefits for people working to improve their psychological well-being.
Whether you’ve taken your first class or have been practising yoga for years, reviewing the basics is one of the most important things you can do in yoga.
No matter what your skill level, there are two common myths about yoga and the first is that you don’t have to follow the basic guidelines of yoga.
In some studies, there is the idea that the original guidelines do not need to be followed, so they end up throwing out things like the basic practices of virtue found in almost all spiritual traditions and the general importance of bringing a sense of humility to the class and to your mat.
The first step in doing yoga correctly is to do the basics of not lying, not stealing, not harming, not taking more than you need or using your energy in too many directions.
Without an emphasis on that practice, very little yoga can be achieved. All schools should teach this as initiation, while at the same time being completely honest about your humanity and imperfections.
The second is that you have to look like a yoga person to do yoga, flaunting mala beads and Sanskrit tattoos, cool leggings, and other spiritual paraphernalia has little to do with the actual practice.
Yoga’s popularity has put a lot of emphasis on adopting specific postures. But don’t worry if you don’t get there yet.
Sometimes the kindest people who touch many hearts can’t even do a downward dog.
Be the yoga practitioner who brings joy, lightness and honesty to the room, even if your poses are not perfect. There is a lightness that comes with honesty, and with that, joy.
Who and where yoga applies
There are a growing number of communities, such as hospitals, rehabilitation centres and halfway houses incorporating yoga into their programming to improve mental health in many people.
Through research, yoga has been shown to influence the mind by helping to decrease stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression and many other mental health problems.
Yoga works by decreasing activity in the sympathetic nervous system, also known as the fight or flight response, which is typically responsible for constricting blood vessels and increasing heart rate and blood pressure.
The breathing practices in yoga influence the mind, calm the nervous system in general and give us the time to restore calm and serenity.
Here are some psychological qualities that yoga can cultivate in people who practice it:
Mindfulness and mindfulness yoga influences the mind.
A lot of yoga practice focuses on using the breath as the primary guide through movement.
This gives us the experience of tuning into the present moment and increasing overall awareness, many yoga teachers also encourage their students to let go of awareness and judgement towards themselves and accept where they are in their practice.
By being in tune with their body movement and breath at the same time, they are practising ways of being mindful both on the mat and with their daily lives.
Self-compassion, self-care and self-love
Because yoga requires commitment, it teaches us the importance of self-care and self-love, along with letting go of judgement, it encourages us to love where we are and who we are.
Yoga influences the mind teaches us to appreciate that we are each perfectly imperfect and to embrace the diversity we each bring to our yoga classes.
We learn to encourage ourselves to maintain a holistic practice of self-care that includes making time to care for our mind, body, emotions and spirituality in a non-judgmental and accepting way.
Resilience through the breath.
Yoga teaches us to step back, let go of our ego, and hold on to our goals.
The ideal way to improve in your yoga practice is through patience, especially for those who are just beginning their practice.
It is challenging to let go of comparison, but it takes time to build a solid yoga practice and you learn that along the way.
Yoga teaches us to breathe through difficult postures as we would through life’s challenges.
We learn to find stillness during times of discomfort and find our breath during times when we need it most.
Reflecting on ourselves.
One of the most impactful qualities to gain from yoga is the appreciation that you are always learning and growing.
Yoga gives you the opportunity to pause, reflect and establish whether the intentions of your practice parallel your life intentions.
You must be persistently checking yourself and asking yourself what you need at that very moment in time.
Yoga encourages us to always work towards being the best possible version of ourselves, but remaining open-minded and broad-hearted during the process.
Purpose in life
Yoga classes help to build communities and make people feel that they are part of something bigger.
This also applies to the spiritual practice that comes from yoga that reminds us of elements of gratitude and vitality.
Yoga is a community in which we can find support and a sense of belonging if you take the time to get to know those who are practising, so don’t be afraid to say hello the next time you place your mat next to someone in class.
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