September is winding down, much like the way yoga allows one’s mind and body to slow down after a long, busy day -- or straight away in the morning! What better way to end the month by swan diving into the benefits of practicing yoga coupled with meditation.
National Yoga Awareness Month promotes the health benefits of yoga and further inspires a healthy lifestyle all the weeks, months and years following. Many individuals practice yoga to maintain their health and wellbeing, improve physical fitness, relieve stress and enhance their quality of life. What’s more? Yoga has been featured in a number of clinical trials that have shown its impact on reducing the risk of breast cancer, obesity, heart disease, arthritis and more. Other benefits of yoga include:
- Increased flexibility, muscle strength and tone
- Improved respiration, energy and vitality
- Maintaining a balanced metabolism
- Weight reduction
- Cardio and circulatory health
- Improved athletic performance
- Protection from injury
When practicing yoga, many yogis also incorporate meditation into their daily practice. If doing so -- for any reason listed above -- it’s important to know there is no wrong way to get started, but rather, a few things to note! Key components include a quiet location, comfortable place to sit or lay, an attention to focusing and an open attitude. Sounds easy, right? For some people, sure. For others, not so much.
Yoga and meditation is harder than most people think. However, don’t let that stop you. A few simple steps can help guide you through the process.
- Find a place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you. You could even consider lying down if that works best as well. Just be sure you are stable and in a position you can be in for a while.
- Research suggests that starting with just five or ten minutes of yoga a day is a great start. Easing into meditation is much better on your body, as it develops the muscles over time and doesn’t stress any too quickly.
- Pay attention to all the parts of the body in a gradual sequence starting from your feet and working up to your head. By mentally scanning yourself, you bring awareness to every limb. This allows us to focus on any discomfort and visualize that tension leaving the body.
- While doing this, be sure to follow the rhythm of your breath as you inhale and exhale. Beginners might find resting one hand on the belly and the other on the chest helps you pay attention to your breathing.
- Don’t feel frustrated if you lose focus on your breath and start thinking of other things. Simply return your attention and continue.
Give yourself grace if your first, second or tenth session isn’t exactly what you expected. Getting into the groove of yoga and meditation can take a while. Training the mind requires practice!
National Yoga Awareness Month reminds us to take your time when allowing yourself to learn and grow.