Yoga Will Save Your Life One Day
Mind Over Matter
Before you start the physical aspects of yoga, spend a little time with the mental aspects.
I'm not talking about the kind of "hocus pocus" you see in the movies, where people who practice these "mysterious oriental arts" gain super mental powers such that they can levitate themselves off the ground or run over water, or face a room full of samurai-sword wielding bad-guys, defeat them all, and still have enough energy to defeat a horde of thirty more who pour in (yes, I'm talking about Kill Bill!)
It's merely being in the right frame of mind to concentrate on your exercises.
Indeed, any athlete will tell you that you have to be in the right frame of mind to work out - if you don't devote your whole attention to what you're doing, your results will suffer. This holds true whether it's weight training, running, playing basketball or football. If you don't practice or if you're distracted while you're practicing... it all shows up in performance.
It's the same with yoga.
Yoga does go a bit further, admittedly. It's not only about concentrating and being calm while you're doing your "work out," but also preparing yourself before hand, and indeed, throughout the day.
In addition to the "postures" that you are taught in order to achieve balance and flexibility, there are also the mental techniques that help you achieve balance of the mind. These techniques aren't hard to learn, nor are they "mystic," - really they're just common sense things you can and should do to improve your quality of life.
Using "Good" Stress, Banishing "Bad" Stress
Everybody has stress in their lives, of some kind, and how they cope with it determines how healthy they are. Indeed, some health experts say that 80% of all illnesses are caused, either directly or indirectly, from stress.
Because of today's environment - economic worries, foreign relations worries, and so on - stress is never ending. Admittedly, some stress is good for you - there's nothing like that adrenalin rush when you're playing some kind of sport, or even working against a deadline at your job. But if you have to face deadlines every day...or play a sport every day without rest, your body will start to break down and frankly so will your mind. Usually just in little ways, of course - snapping at people, forgetting things because you want to forget them, and so on.
So, rather than just doing yoga as a workout in the morning or at night or whenever, you should consider yoga as a 24-hour a day affair, because it deals with both mental and physical health.
Set aside some time each day to "relax." (This is not the same as "doing yoga," which should have its own time set aside.) In order to relax, all you need to do is lie down on the floor for ten minutes...building up to thirty minutes.
- Turn off your cellphone, and make sure no one will disturb you. This is your time.
- Be warm. You want the room warm, you want to dress in loose-fitting, but warm clothing. Don't lie on a cold floor - it's uncomfortable and it's not good for your kidneys, either. That's why it's good to have a yoga mat.
- Use pillows, if necessary, to make sure you're comfortable. One for the head, one for your feet if you so desire.
- Now, lie flat on your back, with your arms stretched out at your sides. Close your eyes, and .... relax. Just lie there and don't move.
- What kinds of things do you think of to relax? That you're lying on a warm, sandy beach? That you're sitting in a chair watching the rain outside a window? Do whatever feels most comfortable.
- Then, just lie there. Cast your mind down to your toes, telling them to relax, then your legs, then your stomach muscles, then your arms.
At the end of the session, get up slowly, and try to maintain that relaxed attitude as you continue on with the day.
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