Yoga and Mindfulness: 7 Tips to Get Your Body and Brain in Shape
While we’re facing challenging and uncertain times, the future can feel pretty bleak. This opens us up to all sorts of potential health issues like anxiety and depression. When we’ve got no idea of what lies around the corner it can make us very uncomfortable as our stress levels soar. Before we know it, things are out of control and the only quick resolve is to resort to medication to get back on track. The good news is that yoga and mindfulness are a great drug-free alternative, or addition, to dealing with these issues and helping to get your body and brain back in shape.
Here are 7 valuable tips for combining the two to do just that!
1. Create a Space to Escape
When our life is overloaded with noise and distractions, they can easily add to our daily stresses and get us down. This is why it’s so vital to our health to take time away from it all so that we can adequately rest and recover.
Naturalistic settings such as fields, forests, lakes, and mountains are perfect for this. But if you don’t have such an environment available to you, you can simply create your own.
Find a quiet, distraction-free area in your home (or garden if you have it), and dedicate it to being your relaxation zone. Make it tidy, comfortable, quiet, and cozy, so that it’s perfect for practicing yoga and mindfulness.
Use relaxing colors, smells, and lighting to create a relaxing mood and remove all technology so you have no distractions whatsoever. This space will give you that brief respite from the stresses of the outside world.
2. Take a Deep Breath
One of the most important aspects of yoga and mindfulness is breathing. Now you might think you’re breathing just fine, but in truth, many of us are not breathing as we should.
Short and shallow breaths don’t use the lungs to their fullest capacity. This means that you’re not giving your body as much oxygen as possible, and it will dramatically affect brain function, mood, and energy levels.
Both yoga and mindfulness use concentrated breath work to combat this with slow, deep breaths from the bottom of the stomach right to the top of the lungs.
This increases lung capacity and oxygen intake, which boosts oxygen delivery to all cells in the body. Not only does this relax you and calm your mind, but it also invigorates the body, energizing it for the day ahead.
3. Strike a Pose
Yoga teaches you to be more mindful of your body in space, allowing you to focus on how you use your muscles more effectively. Many of the traditional poses have been practiced for thousands of years, and for very good reasons.
They encourage the body to stretch and adapt to new positions which improve flexibility, mobility, and strength. As you perform each one, focus on your breath as you do so to improve circulation and blood flow around the body.
Once you’ve mastered the basics you can progress to more difficult poses. Then as you develop, you’ll start to see vast improvements in your posture, functional strength, and cardiovascular fitness. And these also have a positive impact on your mental health and well-being.
4. Focus the Mind and Body
When we’re anxious or depressed, much of it stems from having negative thought patterns. One negative thought leads to the next and can very quickly spiral out of control. This is where mind and body yoga can help to calm and reset your thoughts to find peace.
As you perform each pose, be sure to concentrate on slowly moving the body, using your muscles to support you, and control your breath throughout.
Because your attention is completely focused on doing this, it frees the mind from those negative thoughts, allowing you to relax mindfully while working the body. As tension is released the mind is unencumbered to think more clearly and positively.
5. Practice Gratitude
What gets us down are those repeated negative thoughts which in time, can be hugely detrimental to our health. So it’s crucial to find the positive wherever we can and try to focus our attention on all the good things in life instead.
Practicing gratitude can be incorporated into your yoga and mindfulness routine, and can do wonders for your mental health in just a few focused minutes. In fact, research has shown it to reduce stress, improve happiness, and even have a positive impact on the body too.
All you have to do is think about anything positive in your life, whether it’s a personal achievement, being around loved ones, or doing something you love. In time you’ll teach yourself to focus more on positive things automatically, making you happier, more confident, and healthier as a result.
6. Practice With a Partner
If you’re new to yoga and mindfulness or you’re not sure you’ll enjoy it, why not practice with a partner? It can make it a far more enjoyable experience and make you feel less alone in this new venture.
What’s more, is that training with a partner means you can help and support each other. You can experiment with new techniques and assist each other through poses to ensure they’re correct.
You can also keep each other motivated and encourage one another to keep coming back for more so you maintain your progression.
Above all, having a friendly face with you can make the whole experience more fun and rewarding as you get to share it with someone you know and trust. This alone can be the very thing to inspire you to keep going and make you feel much happier as a result.
7. Establish a Regular Routine
Just like achieving any goal, it comes with adhering to a regular routine which in time, leads to gradual progression and results that last. When you have a fixed time and place to practice, you’re much more likely to keep it going and reap the results.
So perhaps you practice in the morning to energize your mind and body and set you up for the day. Or you may prefer to do it in the evening, to wash away the day’s stresses and prepare you for a restful night’s sleep.
Whatever you decide, be sure to keep consistent with it. In time you’ll no longer have to think about it as it’ll just be a part of your daily routine.
Yoga and Mindfulness Combined
As you can see there are some tremendous benefits to practicing yoga and mindfulness, particularly since they share so many attributes for the mind and body.
If you follow these tips closely, particularly alongside your pharmacological treatment, you’ll no doubt start to see dramatic improvements in your physical and mental health.
In times like these, it’s vital for all of us to give ourselves that advantage, so we can come out stronger than we were before.