Science shows that practicing yoga will improve brain function, boost creativity and balance mental & emotional health, especially when combined with certain types of nutrient-dense sattvic foods that compose a healthy diet.
How Yoga Helps Cultivate Wellness
Most people, even people who don’t practice yoga regularly, are familiar with the concept that yoga is beneficial for the human body. However, there are so many other benefits that yoga provides apart from physical wellness.
Practicing yoga has been proven to promote emotional health while expanding and empowering mental health. Compassion and patience towards others and the self, along with heightened levels of creativity, are other widely experienced benefits of yoga. By integrating the spirit, emotion, mind, body, and breath; yoga gives practitioners and students a sense of synergy between various parts of the human experience.
Yoga techniques include mudra, mantra, meditation, concentration, and breathing, along with yoga postures that enhance mental clarity, discipline, compassion, mental focus, and flexibility. Performed in the correct way, yoga postures allow practitioners to experience life in a more meaningful way, while also supporting and soothing the human digestive system and nervous system. Proper yoga practice never impedes creativity or personal joy but empowers the student to face the day-to-day struggles of life in a healthy way while honoring every facet of the human experience.
Pranayama, or yoga breathing practices, promote emotional flexibility and mental health by soothing the nervous system’s parasympathetic function, which guides the body’s ability to relax and feel at peace. By detoxifying and oxygenating the body’s tissues, brain, and bloodstream, pranayama causes a feeling of calmness and relaxation.
B.K.S. Iyengar, the founder or Iyengar yoga, has often been quoted as comparing yoga to a light that, once it has been lit, will never dim. Far from dimming the light, the more a student practices yoga, the brighter the flame of light will burn. Believing that all eight aspects of Ashtanga yoga can be fully integrated, Iyengar believes that it is a commonly shared human desire to feel more vibrant and healthier overall. When yoga practitioners can master the practice of regulating their breath, they can choose healthier responses, minimize their reaction to stresses, become less judgmental, and experience a wide range of emotions without becoming attached.
When a person denies unpleasant or negative emotions, thoughts, or feelings, emotional and mental flexibility is reduced, and the negativity is only strengthened. By addressing and honoring all emotions, they have the power to be resolved. Proper use of breath can carry all negative or unpleasant feelings towards the light of the inner alchemy, first transforming and then integrating them in an entirely positive way. Lessons are learned about the potential of humanity and about the self.
Hand gestures, known as mudra, direct the often-subtle energies of the mind and body which support the spiritual activation of compassion and inner wisdom. Through practicing mudra, a person can realize and become witness to the endless nature of their own being.
Mantra, the practice of chanting sacred phrases and sounds, has the purpose of shifting the focus of the mind towards a more purposeful, peaceful, and inclusive life experience. Put simply, singing is an entirely positive soul experience.
The practice of mantra does not depend upon any particular religious or cultural upbringing or beliefs. It is simply a personal celebration of common values like love and unity, and an affirmation of that which is held closest to the heart. Repeated practice of mantra integrates the spirit, emotion, mind, and body, leading to personal resilience and overall brilliance.
The all-inclusive practice of yoga is a quest towards complete individual empowerment through embracing peace, elevating happiness, the reduction or even end of suffering, recognition and service of the greater good in others and the self, the release of distraction, and the ability to see and accept things just as they are.
The Benefits of Yoga Are Amplified By Certain Types of Foods
Research shows that Yoga fosters healthy eating habits. And the reason that’s so is because Yogis realize very quickly that the quality and nature of the foods consumed a Yogi will either support or hinder their practice of yoga. This makes perfect sense, because when we eat well, we tend to get the most out of our yoga practice. And the more we get more out of our yoga practice, the more we are inclined to continue practicing yoga.
So, How Does One Eat Like A Yogi?
From the Ayurveda perspective, Yogis are encouraged to eat sattvic foods that balance the unique elemental composition of their physical body (known as dosha, of which there are 3 kinds). Although each dosha responds differently to different types of foods, there does exist neutral foods, fruits, herbs and mushrooms that are able to balance out all 3 doshas(either alone or in combination with other foods). These foods are referred to as Tri-doshic foods, meaning they tend to balance all 3 doshas.
In the context of packaged foods available for purchase, very few can be considered to have a harmonizing or balancing effect on our body and mind.
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