Yoga and Meditation

Benefits of Yoga

The practice of yoga has many benefits. In simple terms, yoga practice aims to elevate the body, mind, and spirit. It’s an inte­grative practice that is rooted in physical health, mental clarity, unconditional love, and happiness. Yoga practice can be further understood as a form of somatic healing that can help alleviate trauma that is stored in the body and mind. These practices help create a feeling of liberation and expanded awareness in the individual.

Physically, the postures can help you increase flexibility, increase lean body mass, and become stronger. On a mental and emotional level, the practices of deep breathing and meditation have a calm­ing effect on the nervous system and improve your well-being.

Yoga Asana Practice

Yoga Asana is the third limb in the eight limb path of Raja Yoga. With respect to the idea of achieving “a steady, comfortable posture,” it’s important to approach asana practice as a way to create a balanced body and mind.

Yoga Asana is a great way to improve overall health and well-being in the body and mind by developing neuromotor skills, cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility. The key to a safe and therapeutic practice is to design a balanced sequence that does not overload any one area to the exclusion of another.

A holistic approach to asana, integrates the entire body and mind, so that all systems of the body work in harmony. As you practice asana, bring your awareness to all aspects of your movement, the alignment of your body, and your breathing. Practicing with mindful awareness and a sense of calmness will help you receive the greatest benefits from your asana practice.

Remember, every human body is unique and beautiful, so the postures will look different depending on one’s physical capacity, body proportions, and the anatomical structure of the joints. Approach your asana practice with the understanding that asana is a therapeutic practice informed by modern science and designed to balance the body, mind, and overall energy.

Other benefits include:

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  • Increase in muscle tone
  • Weight loss
  • Injury rehabilitation
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increase in bone density
  • Lower heart rate
  • Lower cortisol levels
  • Improvement in sleep quality
  • Relief from depression and anxiety

Meditation

The purpose of meditation is to decrease mental activity. It is the practice of transitioning from external awareness to an internal, quiet state. Practicing meditation enables you to start to experi­ence pure consciousness or “the space between two thoughts.” We are usually unaware of this space due to our constant mental activity, but by directing our mind towards stillness and quiet, we can slip into this space. This mental state is an expanded state of unlimited potential and connection to our true self. Numerous studies have measured the physical and psychological benefits of meditation which include the enhancement of neuroplasticity: the brain’s ability to form new neural connections.

The Benefits of a Meditation Practice Include:

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  • Lowered stress, blood pressure, and heart rate
  • Increase in serotonin and dopamine
  • Decrease in cortisol and norepinephrine
  • Increased memory, clarity, creativity, compassion, and understanding
  • Emotional regulation: Increase in positive emotions and a decrease in painful emotions
  • Decrease in inflammation
  • Increase in telomerase: Enzyme that slows the aging process by lengthening telomeres
  • Slows down the atrophy of brain tissue associated with aging and preserves gray matter