Observe the mind-body link by practising Yoga asana
These days it’s becoming more widely accepted by western science that the mind and body are interlinked in a thousand ways, some obvious, some incredibly subtle. This, however, is no news to many other cultures and philosophies, including Yoga, which have accepted and explored the link for thousands of years.
From a yogic perspective we cannot talk about the body without considering the mind, and we cannot talk about the mind without considering the effects of the body upon it. Consider this: when you decide to do something, whether that be to run the Boston marathon or to lose some kilos, is that purely a physical decision? Or does it require mental commitment and fortitude?
Our mental commitment to a desired project will more often than not dictate the physical outcome: it’s amazing how shedding those first few kilos can be the impetus to continue to maintain an exercise regime (and how quickly a plateau in weight can cause an equally quick loss of interest in exercise).
It’s generally true that cultivating and maintaining mental commitment is the greatest challenge to us completing a project. As humans, we find it easier to focus on ends rather than means – which is partly why we rely on physical cues to help us maintain the mental stamina needed to keep forging ahead.
Yoga encourages the practise of Asanas (yoga postures) because they provide clear physical benchmarks by which we can chart our progress, proving to the mind that what we are doing is serving us well. As we begin to practice the poses we might observe a greater freedom of movement, the ability to take a deeper breath or even stand a little straighter.
The real benefit of those physical postures is often more subtle in expression – it’s not always to easy to ‘see’ equanimity of mind. But with practice, and careful observation, the mental benefit of the physical practices of Yoga will become evident.