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Yoga for the Mind

The yoga practice is more than just movements. It’s an inner awareness that can shift the way you react to your mind. Everyone’s mind go through cycles. Think of a washing machine. To start, the water comes down then the tossing and tumbling of the clothes followed by fast spinning to wring out the water. Our mind can take an idea, ponder for a while, then repeat the thought over and over again. When our mind gets hooked on a thought, notice how the body will start to respond as well. If an overwhelming thought comes in, our body can tense up, our heart will beat faster. The mind begins to race and the body follows. When we’ve had enough, we look for something to distract the mind.

In yoga we move the body in positions called Asanas. The translation means to be still, be comfortable. We’ve all seen yoga poses that do not look very comfortable for the body! But here is a clue. Yoga isn’t only about the body. Imagine being in a posture and then the mind starts to wonder, thinking about emails, the fight we just had with a loved one, what we are going to eat for dinner. If our mind is wandering and not present then we are not practicing yoga. In yoga, it’s not about having no thoughts at all but it is about refocusing the mind again and again.

Do you remember the last time your mind was empty? Still? No thoughts? How long did it last? How do you think the body reacted to a still mind? Does the idea of a quiet mind relax you?

How can we find stillness in the mind? That’s one of the goals in yoga. From the outside it might seem that we are only addressing the physical body. Yoga poses definitely address the body. The body needs maintenance and yoga strengthens, twists and lengthens your muscles, connective tissue, spine and joints. There is a saying. If you don’t use it, you lose it.

But having a flexible body doesn’t do anything for your mind. I can see the way yoga is portrayed in the media and how it might seem unattainable for many body types. We age, we have injuries, we struggle with our fitness. But this is a reminder that there is a body and mind connection.

As we think, so we become.

Yoga is the first physical form of exercise that I’ve found that isn’t focused on just the body. Yes we use the body. We all move, gratefully and thankfully. But the body isn’t the measurement of our happiness. When we focus more on stilling the mind, we release the tension that comes from overthinking, being overwhelmed and anxious. A focused mind is worth more than gold. A relaxed mind is creative, attentive and present. A mind that is free from the past is excited about the future.

I invite you to listen to your mind. As you walk down the street, get lunch, take a shower, commute home. Listen to your mind. Notice when it has nothing to say. Be an observer of your thoughts.

As we think, so we become.

Yoga is a practice. A daily beautiful practice that leads us to health, wealth and freedom.


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