Even though yoga practice leads to a union of body and mind, some yoga practitioners don’t always appreciate that the emotional benefits of yoga are just as powerful as the physical ones. What draws you to yoga the most? What does yoga teach you? Do you follow its guidance, and recognise the effect on you? Have you experienced some of the emotional benefits?
Let’s have a look at some.
Present Moment Awareness
Focusing on the present - letting the past and the future fade away - might be a challenge. However, when you practise being in the moment regularly, you stop dwelling on the issues from the past and worrying about the future. You are more positive about yourself, handling calmly whatever happens, and you become free of the negative thoughts that you don’t need. Your awareness will largely improve your mental wellbeing.
Many practices of yoga can help you reduce your stress level. An example of that is Pranayama – breathing technics. Practising attentive breathing has contributed to reducing cortisol, the primary stress hormone. Also, while practicing yoga postures endorphins are released. This group of hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system, has a number of physiological functions. For instance, they can improve your disposition, and help you manage stress better.
Through its simple methods, yoga teaches us how to be in the present moment and approach problems with calm, balance, and mental comfort.
"Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life." Eckhart Tolle
Every physical action puts tension in the muscles, but we also spend energy unnecessarily, without active muscular movement. We tense our muscles as a result of thoughts and emotions, especially the negative ones, such as worries, sorrow, anxieties, anger or greed.
A sudden outburst of anger produces a shock wave in the nervous system, all muscles are tensed, blood pressure increases, and breathing becomes irregular. After the anger subsides, there is still mental fatigue or tension that also consumes energy.
If any of these negative emotions become a habit, they can have a dangerous effect on our body and mind. More of our energy is spent on keeping the muscles ready for work than the actual task done. Since even during sleep muscles are often tensed, only through the regular practice of conscious physical, mental and spiritual relaxation, we can help them relax completely, and we can bring the body and mind to the neutral, peaceful state.
All yogic practices help achieve relaxation and tranquility. Pranayama, Asana and Dyana all have a relaxing effect on the practitioner. Even those who practise these methods of yoga separately, report harmony and relaxation.
In order to achieve perfect relaxation, the following three main methods are used by yogis:
Physical Relaxation – with the use of autosuggestion, you relax the muscles and internal organs, from the toes upwards to the face and the crown of the head; then slowly spreading internally to the main organs.
Mental Relaxation – by concentrating on slow and rhythmic breathing for a few minutes, you allow the mind to become quiet.
Spiritual Relaxation - a natural consequence of the above methods, the most complete method in which a Yogi removes himself from the physical body notion, and relinquishes the ego. During this practice, a Yogi recognizes the pure consciousness within himself. This realization completes relaxation.
Learning how to relax is one of the most important yoga lessons.