Originally published on Worthview.com
As a dedicated yoga practitioner for several decades, I have experienced first-hand the plethora of benefits this ancient practice has to offer.
But when I say “practicing yoga,” which yoga do I mean? There are, in fact, several different schools and philosophies of yoga which vary in style as well as technique.
Hatha Yoga consists of very slow, basic movements and postures. It’s what most people picture in their minds when they think of yoga.
But there’s also Vinyasa Yoga, which consists of a rapid changing of poses, so much so that it has almost been likened to dance, and music is often played during sessions.
Iyengar Yoga is very much about the poses since one holds each pose for a considerable length of time. Tools are even needed to maintain some of these poses, such as yoga blocks and blankets.
Ashtanga Yoga is one of the most challenging styles. Ashtanga consists of sequenced yoga poses, rather like a kata in karate or other martial arts.
While there are several types of yoga, one of the many things they all have in common is meditation and mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
I don’t think I can define mindfulness any better than how it’s explained at mindful.org: “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
Meditation is a doorway to mindfulness.
Very few people can begin meditating and feel its benefits immediately. Like yoga, one must consistently “practice” meditation. It takes time to learn the techniques of being able to clear the mind and not allow thoughts into our heads.
Overstressed at work, with thoughts whirling around in your mind as if they were on a hamster wheel?
With meditation, practitioners can stop those thoughts from whirling around, from being overwhelming. The mind is gradually emptied of all negative thoughts through the use of posture, stillness, deep breathing and mantras. After half an hour or so of meditation, you will feel better, calmer, and able to think more clearly.
The benefits of Mindfulness
“Modern medicine” seems to consist solely of treating one’s symptoms using medication – most of which have side effects – rather than focusing on the root of the problem.
Have an ulcer? Ulcers can be caused by stress, so while it’s necessary to take medications to ease the pain of the ulcer, it would also help to meditate to relieve stress, which prevents an ulcer from occurring in the first place.
While it simply makes sense that meditation and mindfulness can help reduce stress and thereby increase one’s health, nothing should be taken for granted.
Scientific studies that have appeared in peer-reviewed, authoritative publications have shown these benefits. For example, heart disease in all its myriad forms is the number one killer in the United States, and statistics show that one in four deaths can be attributed to heart disease. A 2017 article published in the Journal of the American Heart Association provides the scientific rationale behind how meditation helps improve heart health: Meditation and Cardiovascular Risk Reduction.
We’re in a new year, and it’s time for a new outlook on our lives and our health. Find an introductory class, try a few styles, and see how Yoga will benefit you.
About Carole Hambleton-Moser: Whether she is involved in a meeting as a Board member of the Donkey Sanctuary or helping to donate a wheelchair to a disabled dancer who is a part of the Theatre Arts Admin Collective, Carole Hambleton-Moser uses all her might for the betterment of the world. When she isn’t pursuing her passions of philanthropy, Carole spends time on inner reflection, doing yoga or QiGong, or hiking with her dogs and friends.
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