A relatively new form of yoga has been slowly emerging called yoga mindfulness or mindful yoga. This unique combination has a powerful effect on the practitioner, providing a path to self-discovery and healing. But what is it about yoga and mindfulness that makes them such a perfect match?
In this article we will delve into the world of mindfulness yoga, exploring the amazing benefits that this type of yoga can offer.
An overview of Mindfulness and Yoga
The practise of mindfulness and yoga have been merged together to create a powerful and holistic approach to self-discovery and healing. Mindful yoga applies traditional Buddhist mindfulness teachings to the physical practice of yoga, creating a unique and powerful combination.
Through the practice of mindful yoga, we can learn to become more present and aware in our lives. We can learn to connect with our bodies and minds in a deeper way, gaining a greater understanding of ourselves.
Mindfulness is the quality of being present and aware in the moment. It is about living in the here and now, and being fully engaged with whatever we are doing. When we are mindful, we are not lost in our thoughts or caught up in our emotions. We are present with ourselves and the world around us. This has been slowly integrated by athletes, celebrities, and even the business world as a way to increase productivity and focus.
Some of the benefits it comes with are reducing stress, improving sleep and concentration, and managing anxiety and depression. Its ability to do this is by creating space between our thoughts and emotions, so we can observe them without judgement. This allows us to see things as they really are, rather than how we think they should be.
For thousands of years, yoga has been used as a tool for self-transformation. It is an ancient system of physical and mental practices that originated in India. The word ‘yoga’ comes from the Sanskrit root Yuj, which means ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’. Yoga is about union: the union of body and mind, the union of mind and spirit.
Yoga is much more than just a physical exercise; it is a holistic system that includes breath work, meditation, and mindfulness. The goal of yoga is to create harmony in all aspects of our lives. When we practise yoga, we learn to connect with our bodies and minds in a deeper way.
The secret of yoga is that it is not about what we do, but how we do it. It is the quality of our attention and awareness that is important, not the quantity of physical activity. This is why yoga is such a perfect match for mindfulness.
The Benefits of Mindful Yoga
Mindful yoga comes with a wide variety of benefits, both physical and mental. In our fast-paced, modern lives, our minds are constantly racing, jumping from one thought to the next. This can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. Mindful yoga provides a way to slow down and focus on the present.
Here are 4 proven benefits of mindfulness yoga:
1. A Deep Sense of Awareness
One of the main goals of mindfulness is to achieve a deep sense of awareness. This means being present at the moment and observing our thoughts and emotions without judgement. Through the practice of mindful yoga, we can learn to become more aware of our bodies and minds and gain a greater understanding of ourselves.
This type of constant self-awareness can be beneficial in many ways. It can help us to identify negative thought patterns and behaviours, so we can start to change them. It can also help us to become more aware of our physical bodies and the way we move through life. This awareness can lead to improved posture, alignment, and movement.
2. Improved Sleep
Quality sleep is essential for good health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyles often prevent us from getting the rest we need. Mindfulness can help to improve our sleep quality by teaching us how to relax and let go of the racing thoughts that keep us awake at night.
Yoga is also a great way to wind down before bed. The slow, gentle movements can help to release tension from the body and prepare us for a good night’s sleep. A study published in the National Library of Medicine found that mindfulness yoga improved sleep quality in participants with chronic insomnia. After eight weeks of practising mindful yoga, participants reported less difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, as well as less fatigue during the day.
3. Decreased Stress Levels
In our fast-paced, modern lives, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget to take a step back and relax. This can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. Mindfulness yoga can help to reduce stress levels by teaching us how to focus on the present moment and let go of our worries.
It does this by increasing our levels of the stress-busting hormone, cortisol. Yoga can also help to improve our breathing and increase our overall sense of wellbeing. This helps us manage stress in a more efficient way and prevents us from getting overwhelmed.
4. Improved Concentration and Focus
In our busy lives, it can be difficult to find time to focus on the things that are important to us. Mindfulness yoga can help to improve our concentration and focus by teaching us how to quieten the chatter of our minds and focus on the present moment.
The regular practice of mindfulness has been shown to improve our ability to focus and pay attention. This allows us to be more productive in our work and relationships, and enjoy the things we do more fully. Yoga is an excellent way to practice mindfulness. The physical postures and breathing exercises help to calm the mind and body, allowing us to focus on the present moment.
How to Perform Mindful Yoga?
Now that we know the benefits of mindfulness yoga, let’s take a look at how to do it.
The key to mindfulness yoga is to focus on your breath and be aware of your body and movements. As you move through each posture, pay attention to the sensations in your body and the way your breath feels. If your mind starts to wander, simply bring your attention back to your breath.
When you first start practising mindfulness yoga, it may be helpful to practice with a friend or teacher who can guide you through the process. Once you get the hang of it, you can easily practice on your own at home.
You can start by sitting in a quiet place and focusing on your breath. Remember to stay aware and bring your attention back to your breath whenever your mind starts to wander.
Once you feel comfortable with this, you can start practising mindfulness yoga in different positions such as standing, lying down or walking. Experiment and find the position that works best for you. Remember, the most important thing is to focus on your breath and be aware of your body and movements.
Mindfulness yoga is an excellent way to improve our mental and physical well-being. By focusing on our breath and being aware of our body and movements, we can reduce stress levels, improve our sleep quality and concentration, and increase our overall sense of wellbeing.
If you’re new to mindfulness yoga, remember to start slowly and practice with a friend or teacher if possible. Once you get the hang of it, you can easily practise on your own at home. Experiment with different positions and find the ones that work best for you. Remember, the most important thing is to focus on your breath and be aware of your body and movements.
I found this article by yoga journal on mindfulness yoga to be very insightful, feel free to give it a read!