We’re fortunate to be living in times when there’s so much more understanding of the holistic nature of how our bodies work. We might be used to treating the mind and body as separate but the reality is that they are so intertwined that both affect each other constantly.
The evidence is there for all to see.
Haven’t you ever salivated at the thought of a sumptuous meal? And when jolted by fear, don’t you feel your stomach drop?
The physical influencing the mind is more obvious. The simplest is when you are physically ill. Quite obviously your mind is sluggish and you fight to stay awake or for focus.
Since the mind and body are connected, how can we use this connection to our advantage when we work out?
Yoga is a discipline that places enormous emphasis on mind management. In fact, although Yoga is famous for its postures, the physical only forms 1/8th of Ashtanga Yoga. Of the 8 limbs of Yoga, 7 are devoted to cleansing and strengthening the mind.
Quite obviously the ancient yogis were well aware of the mind-body connection and they used it to their advantage to gradually rid the mind of all that serves to distract it.
Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodha. This translates to ‘Yoga is the cessation of the modifications of the mind’. By ‘modifications’ the Yogis are referring to all thoughts and emotions — anything and everything — that influence the mind.
Tap into the mind-body connection
This is why at Pratimoksha we advise against exercising while watching TV or while listening to music and podcasts. Even in group classes, although students benefit from the energy and enthusiasm of the group as a whole, everyone is encouraged to pay attention to their own bodies, the posture and how one gets in and out of it.
This attention helps in so many ways to ensure we are getting the maximum out of our Yoga practice. Naturally, the same goes for other fitness routines as well.
Put your mind to it
Yoga is a very exact science. Which means that there are reasons for doing certain Asanas (postures), a proper way of getting into the Asana, a sequence one has to follow. In fact there are Asanas such as the Warrior I pose or the Triangle pose where one must pay attention to minute details such as the angle of the knee. If you are not paying attention to your posture then you will not derive the full benefit of the Asana.
On the contrary you might even be aggravating the wear and tear of joints, or be placing undue load on them. So constantly observe how your body feels; do not put unnecessary strain on yourself; do not force your limbs into postures they cannot attain initially. At all times be alert.
When one pays attention to oneself, one might notice with time that a posture begins to feel easier. Our range of movement improves. Now we might want to increase the time we hold the posture, or maybe increase the number of sun salutations we are currently doing.
By staying in the moment, and with oneself, we become the best judges of how and when we can increase the intensity of our workouts.
Yoga is very well known for meditation and deep breathing exercises. There are meditative practices during which the practitioner goes through a sequence of movements while meditating. This teaches us to try be present to each moment. It teaches us to hold back from thoughts and worries of the future and regrets of the past.
Try working out for a month or so without any distractions. Check if you feel different.
Studies have suggested that muscle strength and muscle tone both improve when we exercise mindfully. But at the very least, you will begin to notice that you feel calmer and more grounded.
You feel at peace.
If you live in Dubai find out how you can transform from the inside out with our Beyond courses that lay emphasis on physical and mental conditioning through a customized series of Yoga classes. You learn everything there is to know about the physical posture with some Yoga philosophy too. For more information call/Whatsapp 00971-50-395-5613.
Pratimoksha also offers online sessions.
Besides our signature Beyond programs, we have a 5-star rated Yoga Alliance certified Teachers Training Course — RYT500 & RYT200.
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