Any yogi out there knows that yoga works to tone muscles—all muscles—even muscles you didn’t know you had. (Am I right, or am I right?!) BUT: yoga is also a brain toner. Although today’s society places enormous value on being physically fit, a happy and healthy life is about achieving and maintaining a solid degree of mental health, too.
You might not see it, but our brains need fitness!
Yoga is amazing for working on the state of our mental health, and for many reasons. These include the following:
The very nature of yoga is mentally calming.
Think about it: yoga is a slow practice, with many poses held for a minute or longer. You are encouraged to breathe, clear your mind, and to focus on yourself. There is often calming, meditative music accompanying the class, and no one is forced to do anything that might be outside of what might be realistic for their own body.
If you come to class with your mind racing, you can pretty much bet money that it will not be when you leave, not that we’re encouraging gambling.
Yoga incorporates physical poses with mental strength and stability.
Often while being talked through a specific pose, the instructor will ask students to clear their minds, focus on the pose, breathe through it, and to acknowledge then send away outside thoughts not pertaining to the moment.
This builds mental strength.
When you can recognize a random thought, and mentally be capable of pushing it away for the purpose of maintaining a clear and positive mind, that’s amazing! By practicing yoga, we learn how to control negative thoughts and how to create and seek positive ones.
Honestly, it’s like free therapy with a side of stretch.
It forces you to breathe, and take a minute.
For those of us who are a little (or a lot) type-A, we sometimes need to be told to chill. We value lists and productivity and usually forget to take time to just be.
Yoga helps with that!
Think of savasana. Unless you want to be busted getting up and leaving in the last 5-10 minutes of your class, you have no choice but to lie down, get comfortable, and zone out. And? It’s considered just as valuable, if not more, than the rest of the class was.
Many poses allow for increased blood circulation to the brain.
Poses such as forward fold, downward dog, wheel, and others inherently increase blood flow and therefore oxygen to the brain. By being in a position where your head is physically below your heart, your brain reaps the rewards of extra oxygen circulation.
I mean, if our brain was where our feet are, we’d probably all be geniuses and very mentally healthy. Yoga helps us switch it up every once in a while!
Here’s the bottom line: yoga is not just a physical practice—it’s a mental one, too. The more you attend yoga, the stronger you can become everywhere. We might be a little biased at Parallel Yoga, but we think yoga should be covered by our medical plans. Right?! (Maybe we should all lobby for this…)
Namaste. Go feed your brain some yoga!