How Yoga Can Help Your Mind

Guest post from Phil Tucker

guest poster, Phil TuckerWe are at Rancho la Puerta Fitness Spa in Tecate, Mexico taking yoga classes and attending a presentation by John Ratey, MD, author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. So you get the benefit of a guest post from one who knows yoga much better than we!  Phil Tucker is an avid yoga practitioner and general health and wellness advocate. He’s looking to feel ever younger as he grows older! Please make Phil feel welcome by leaving comments. THANKS! K and A

Too often when we think of yoga we think first and only about how it can benefit our bodies. We conjure images of svelte young women performing acrobatic poses, and focus on how lithe and perfect their bodies look. Yoga has become ever more popular for just that reason, and today tens of thousands are flocking to studios to attain the ‘yoga body.’ Yet this ancient practice has much greater potential to benefit you than merely toning and strengthening your muscles and core: it can lower your stress levels, help you achieve clarity, mental well being, and consequently enjoy life more profoundly.

Does that sound a bit much? Then consider this: yoga is often described as a form of ‘moving meditation.’ You strive to perfect all the different poses to clarify your mind and ground yourself in the present. By bringing all of your focus and attention on the entirety of your body, you find you don’t have room to worry about dinner or whether you are going to finish your work in time. Instead, you have to be fully conscious of what each part of your body is doing, and in doing so, you switch off your mind and find a sense of peace.

It goes deeper than that though. At the end of each yoga session you experience the final pose known as Savasana, or ‘corpse pose’. This is most beginner yogi’s favorite pose, as it simply involves lying on your, back, arms out, fully relaxed, with eyes closed. Usually the instructor will play soothing music. Many people find that they tend to drift off to sleep as they relax ever deeper. Why do they sleep? It’s not just because they’re tired. It’s also because beginner yogis often have the most active minds and the greatest levels of stress. Savasana is meant to provide practitioners with a final opportunity to still their minds and experience the universe through only their spirit and bodies, but beginners, who are often exhausted by too much thought, will often slip away completely into sleep.
That is how yoga can truly make a difference in both your mental health and general well being. It affords you the opportunity to still your thoughts and release your stress for not only the hour that you are on the mat, but for a long period of time once you step off it. One could say that the point of yoga is to help you live a conscious life, to be self aware and fully present in your life, and it helps you do that by grounding you in the moment, energizing your body, and helping calm your mind.

Photos: Provided by Phil Tucker via Flickr

Readers: How has yoga changed your life (for those who practice it? What would motivate you to try yoga if you have not yet done so?

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