Swami Words of Wisdom

By Swami Sivanananda Saraswati

You can have calmness of mind at all times by the practice of yoga.

You can have restful sleep.
You can have increased energy,
vigor, vitality, longevity, and
a high standard of health.
You can turn out efficient work
within a short period of time.
You can have success
in every walk of life.

Asana, Pranayama, Meditation

Medical research is beginning to catch up to what the ancient yogis have known for years: the mind and body are connected. Once thought of as separate entities, it is becoming increasing apparent that when the health of one is down, the other is affected.

How many of us have not experienced a bad cold during a time when we were under a tremendous amount of mental stress?  Or heard a story of recovery against all odds linked to a positive outlook?  The connection may be intellectually easy to understand, but the cause and effect in our personal experience is usually where the “disconnect” occurs. Unfortunately, it is only after we are suffering the physical effects of chronic stress and anxiety such as hypertension, digestive issues or respiratory disorders that we begin to wonder “how did I get here?”

Yoga masters like Swami Sivananda believe, however, that through a regular yoga practice that the mind and body can be synchronized. Yoga provides the tools and platform to promote and develop the mind/body connection and the result is a balanced and creative life, full of good health and happiness.

   5 Ways Yoga Can Facilitate the Mind/Body Connection

1.    Stress Reduction – Yoga poses bring us into our body by bring awareness to the posture, relaxing or stretching the muscles and connecting us to our breath which inducing a variety of stress releasing benefits.  Lower heart rate and blood pressure and improved digestive function are just a few stress-reducing benefits of a regular yoga practice.

2.    More Energy – When we move our body through various yoga postures we stimulate blood flow, increase respiration, and release energy blockages in the body, thus improving our energy level.  An object in motion likes to stay in motion and yoga can stimulate our physical energy levels long after class is over.

3.    Induces Sleep – It may seem counterintuitive given the previous entry, but a regular yoga practice can actually improve sleep. While certain practices like Sun Salutation are inherently energizing, Child’s Pose, Standing Forward Bend, Plow Pose and Shavasana, coupled with slow deep breathing, can relax the body and turn the mind inward, setting the tone for a blissful night’s rest.

4.    Alters Mood – Feeling sad or a little depressed?  Need to focus before a big test or presentation?  There is a yoga posture for that!  Backward bending postures and extensions are stimulating as they usually open both the chest and heart and increase our receptivity to others, as well as our communication skills.  On the flip side, forward bending postures tend to be more introverting, bringing us inward and quieting the mind.  Balance postures, like tree pose, not only improve our physical balance, but can balance our energy as well. So if you are feeling “off balance,” get back in balance with a few yoga postures.

5.  Increases both Physical & Mental Flexibility – Every mental tension has a corresponding physical tension. The physical manifestation of mental or emotional stress can show up as a disturbance in sleep patterns, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, muscular aches or pains among other disorders.  The initial object of yoga postures therefore is to release these tensions.  Yoga postures act to release mental tensions on a somatic or physical level. Depending on the physical symptoms, a well-chosen set of yoga postures can help to lessen the effects of mental stress and strain eliminating the physical manifestation of the mental stressor, at least temporarily. As the body relaxes, so does the mind.

With hundreds of yoga postures and movements, breathing practices and meditations to choose from there is something for EVERY BODY.  Give the power of yoga a chance to be the conduit between your mind and body. A more calm, rested, energized you is all you have to lose.