Cultivating your mind-body connection on and off the mat

If you’ve been practicing yoga for a while now, you know that the mind-body connection is significant. Yoga is an activity that allows us to cultivate this connection and one that, typically because of its pace, allows us to really lean in and listen to our bodiesand the feedback it’s giving us at any particular time.

There aren’t a lot of sports out there that can say the same. Running is often described as a type of moving meditation due to its repetitive and cathartic nature, but even if runners are feeling relaxed and in the proverbial “zone” during their runs, it can be hard for them to quiet their minds. In fact, many runners would stand to benefit immensely from practicing yoga regularly, or even just a little bit, as they learn how to better listen to their bodies and the feedback they are receiving. In addition, through yoga, runners can also learn how to quiet their minds when doubting and self-defeating thoughts begin to creep in.

Perhaps more than anything, yoga has become well-known for its soothing and meditative aspects. Meditation seems to be enjoying a lot of popularity right now, and even medical practitioners — MDs and DOs, not naturopaths — are prescribing that their patients incorporate meditation into their daily fitness routine. Smartphone users now have several daily meditation app options from which they can select, and in doing so, they’ll have the opportunity to nurture a daily meditation habit, beginning from as little as a minute at a time.

Mindfulness

In today’s hustle-and-bustle society, it seems that we’re always on the go to any of our seeming-thousands of obligations, commitments, priorities, and appointments, and everything is urgent and important. While we may be able to argue that we’re eking as much out of our life as possible, I think we can also argue that this way of living isn’t sustainable long-term. Eventually, something will have to give, and unfortunately, that something is often our health and well-being.

So what can we do to cultivate this mind-body connection in yoga? If we’re new to yoga, how do we begin? How do we get started so that we can begin to undo some of the damage that our hyper-connected lives leave us with?

My suggestions for cultivating the mind-body connection in yoga include the following:

Read. Setting up a daily reading ritual, even for just a few minutes each day, can help you begin to unwind and detach from the day’s activities. There is now a ton of literature out there about meditation and yoga, so I’d recommend finding something that speaks to you.

Use an app for guidance. Particularly if you’re new to meditation and yoga, you probably will feel like you don’t know what you’re doing or that you’re doing it “wrong.” Those are normal feelings, and I can assure you that if you’re trying — if you’re showing up — that’s good enough. Even if you only last a few minutes, that’s totally okay! We all started somewhere.

Photo of BuddhiBabe @eliana.chinea

Photo of BuddhiBabe @eliana.chinea

Follow videos from youtube from reputable sources.You may find that it’s easier to follow-along on your TV screen or computer screen than on your smartphone or tablet. Starting a practice in the comfort of your own home is both convenient and inexpensive, and if you’re feeling timid about practicing in front of, or with, other people, an at-home practice is an excellent way for you to begin to foray into cultivating your own mind-body yoga connection.

Attend a studio class. Finally, if your schedule and interests permit, consider attending a session in a studio or class alongside other people. It can be really intimidating to do this sometimes, particularly if you’re new, but again: we were all new once. Sometimes working in the presence with other people and their positive energy can help you along and can teach you, even informally, about aspects that you can incorporate into your practice.

The mind-body connection in yoga is huge, but like anything else, it’s a skill that takes time and intentional nourishment to flourish. In doing so, you’ll likely find that you become calmer and more at peace than ever before and that your health is positively affected as well.

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AUTHOR’S BIO: JANE GRATES
A fitness blogger, cyclist and guru. Working at the sweet spot between aesthetics and function to express ideas through design.