Busy life? Even busier mind? Have you thought about starting a yoga practice to help you relax, concentrate better or even to help reduce pain? Yoga is about more than physical poses. It’s a about a learned process that connects the brain with the body. We turn to Davina Parkinson, from SantoshaYogaBurlington located in Downtown Burlington to explain more about this mind-body connection.
People come to yoga for many reasons: they hear the practice is good to enhance concentration, or their doctor might have recommended it because of a study which described pain relief after a few classes.
For whatever reason they decide to try yoga, many consider it to be another tool in their fitness regime and continue to go to class because it makes them feel limber. A smaller percentage suspect there might be more to making strange shapes with their bodies.
It doesn’t matter the reason for beginning or staying, a commitment to regular practice with a qualified teacher eventually begins to have non-physical effects – changes happen to the participant in unexpected ways.
My guru, the late yoga master BKS Iyengar is famously quoted as saying “ Yoga does not just change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees. ”.
How does an 3,000-year old ancient Indian “exercise” programme do this?
To start on the physical plane, in a mindful, introspective practice the amount of concentration required to enter a pose, stay in the pose without strain, and to exit the pose with grace and control is much more than it appears.
Sound difficult? It is important to realise that a yoga practice is a process: that is, although we might start off by not being able to do much, we continually refine the actions involved. This causes us to develop sensitivity in our sensory nervous system – when the parts of the body send signals to the brain, followed by brain to body part feedback. Already we have affected the sharpened neural pathways in how the brain connects to the body.
The way we begin to integrate how various body parts move to achieve better and better alignment to gravity achieves less and less obstruction through the deeper, inner pathways for energy to move around (in yoga this is termed ”prana”). After correct effort, the ability to be still becomes easier.
This last effect is really the reason we do yoga, according to the ancient text “Yoga Sutra” written by Patanjali: yoga removes the fluctuations of the mind.
There are many more complexities to the practice than just doing the physical poses, but we all need an accessible place to begin, and learning where to put our body parts for best potential and health in everyday life gives us immediate success.