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Yoga and Spirituality: The Art of Active Mindfulness

Updated on December 27, 2015

Yoga nourishes the mind, body and spirit

In the east, Yoga is treated as an amazing form of exercise that nourishes the mind, body and spirit. Unfortunately, in the west, most teachers only teach the physical stretching aspect of Yoga. Although there are many physical benefits to Yoga, it’s really when Yoga is combined with the mindfulness and spiritual aspect that it becomes truly fulfilling.

Yoga Meditation : Yoga Meditation: Head to Toe

Yoga and Happiness

Presence or mindfulness is a very powerful principle in yogic philosophy. Basically, presence is the realization that the Now is all there is. Both the past and the future aren’t real. Only the present really exists right now.

Mindfulness is the cultivation of presence. It’s the practice of actively directing your consciousness to the present moment.

By cultivating mindfulness, you can begin to learn to enjoy your life just the way it is. Not for what you want it to be in the future or for what it was in the past, but for what your life is like right now.

Once you can learn to love your life as it is, then you’ll no longer suffer and will instead be happy. Stress, sadness, anger, etc will all disappear once you’re truly at peace with and in appreciate of what’s in your life right now.

How to meditate

Asanas: The Gateway to Yoga

What are the Asanas?

Asanas are the various Yoga poses you’ll go through in a Yoga session. There are several intentions behind the Yoga Asanas. There are of course the physical benefits. However, there are also immense spiritual and mental benefits to properly practicing the Asanas as well.

On a physical level, the Asanas are designed to help you stretch every muscle group in your body. All of your internal organs are massaged during the Yoga session. This results in more blood flow through your body, even in areas that don’t normally get blood flow.

Your joints and ligaments get more lubricated as a result. Your cholesterol lowers, respiration improves and your immune system strengthens.

Those are some of the physical benefits of Yoga and the Asanas. However, even more amazing benefits can be realized through understanding the spiritual significance of the Asanas.

The Asanas are designed to take you through a range of experiences all during one Yoga session. A series of Asanas might take you through experiencing stress, pain, relaxation, effort, stretching, burning, etc.

These Asanas allow you to really practice maintaining mindfulness in times of stress. For most people, it’s quite easy to be present and enjoy the moment when life is going exactly how they want. However, it’s really when life isn’t going how they want that people need to cultivate presence and appreciation the most.

That’s where the Asanas come in. By giving you a broad range of physical experiences to work with, you have an amazing space in which you can cultivate that presence and appreciation for the moment, no matter what’s happening.

Meditation w/ Anusara Yogi Bridget Woods Kramer - omshop.com

What is Meditation?

A lot of people in the west have the wrong idea about meditation. People tend to think that meditation is about thinking or concentrating. Other people think it’s about transcending or disconnecting from reality. Meditation is actually the opposite from all these things.

What meditation really is, is the real world practice of learning how to deeply accept and appreciate what’s actually true in your life in each and every moment.

Thinking actually takes you away from and disconnects you from reality. Instead, with meditation you’re getting more in touch with reality. You’re learning and practicing how to be present.

To experience meditation yourself, try this simple experiment. As you’re reading this article, just close your eyes and observe your breathing. Without trying to change anything, just observe your breath.

See how much you can enjoy the simple act of breathing. There is no pressure. Just be with your breath and enjoy it for what it is. See how deeply you can cherish and enjoy the experience of breathing.

That is meditation. Meditation is learning how to enjoy every moment of your life, no matter what’s going on for you right now. Meditation is about learning how to cherish your life and all its experiences, even when you’re experiencing a “negative emotion.” It’s not about changing how you feel. It’s about learning to enjoy the experience no matter what’s happening right now.

Yoga Meditation : Yoga Meditation Importance

Yoga Meditation Exercises : Benefits of Meditation

Spirituality and Yoga

One downside to meditation is its sedative nature. You’re practicing the art of enjoying what is while you’re sitting on a cushion. Although you can reach very high stages of spiritual fulfillment through meditation, sometimes it can be hard to translate what you learn into practical use once you leave the cushion.

Yoga is your chance to take the same spiritual concepts and apply them to your real life. Unlike meditation, with Yoga you’re practicing mindfulness in a very active space. You’re practicing mindfulness in a space that has both pleasant and unpleasant sensations.

This will allow you to practice being with what is in a space that provides a wide range of stimulation. This makes it far easier to take the practice back into your everyday life.

The Benefits of Yoga

As you can tell, there are many benefits to practicing Yoga.

In the short run, you get the immense physical benefits, along with relaxation, relief of stress and a feeling of clarity.

Over time, you’ll gradually cultivate the ability to handle whatever life throws at you. You’ll feel calm, happy and fulfilled in your life.

If you allow Yoga to be a holistic practice that nourishes you physically, mentally and spiritually, you’ll likely find that the many benefits of Yoga will have an amazing impact on your life.

To Get Started …

The best way to get started with Yoga is to just jump in right away.

It’s crucial in Yoga to really find an instructor that resonates with you. Your instructor should teach in a way that really matches what you’re looking for. For example, if you want a teacher who can teach spiritual concepts as well as physical, don’t settle until you find one that really does that.

Before you sign up for a membership with a Yoga studio, check out a few studios first. Once you do find an instructor that you do like, it’s best to practice as often as you can. If you get a monthly pass, you can even practice every day if you’d like!

A good Yoga practice and really change your life. Why not give it a shot today?

Yoga Meditation Videos on Amazon

Yoga Meditation DVDs on Amazon

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    rmcleve 

    6 years ago

    Like Supercellbaebe noted, mindfulness also helps with mental health. There are even entire schools of thought in counseling that offer mindfulness as a life-changing technique.

    Help your body, help your mind, help your soul.

  • JimmyTerrino profile image

    JimmyTerrino 

    7 years ago

    I want to make it clear that is important to make small changes at a time, don't rush and do all the things I recommend here at once just try one for a couple of weeks

  • Supercellbaebe profile image

    Supercellbaebe 

    7 years ago from LONDON

    Thank you very much. I am suffering from severely debilitating anxiety and I have been trying to remember "how" to be mindful. Your hub just reminded me that there isn't a "how" only an "is." Now my utter panic is beginning to subside as I just be. Thank you so much for reminding me, thank you :) xxx

    Beautiful hub, I want to do Yoga, its a bit expensive for me though, do you know of any good books or DVDs I could use to get benefit from Yoga? Classes really are unfortunately out of my price range. xxx

  • lillm profile image

    lillm 

    8 years ago from Berkeley, CA

    This is great! I've just started a yoga practice, and while the physical benefits have come about rather easily, I'm still working on the mindfulness/spirituality aspect of yoga. This gives me some really valuable thinking points!

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