Creating a Healthy MindsetPeople take up yoga for many different reasons, from wanting to keep fit to trying to improve balance in later life. The physical benefits of yoga have been proven again and again. Yoga can help to improve posture and balance, to strengthen bones, and even to help prevent problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and lower back pain. However, the impact of practicing yoga often goes far beyond these direct benefits. Yoga can also change our attitudes, inspiring us with the intention to live a healthier lifestyle. When you start to improve your health by practicing yoga, the benefits that you experience will often go beyond these more obvious physical effects. It is often the case that making one change or decision in our lives can help us to learn about ourselves and to make others, and when that first change is a positive one, the following changes will also tend to be beneficial. For example, when we start to exercise more, our bodies will often start to crave a healthier diet, which can make us start looking for ways to prepare more nutritious meals. Improving our health through yoga can therefore inspire us to make other positive changes, such as choosing a healthier diet, complementing our yoga with other forms of exercise, or even eradicating some of those bad habits that we have been meaning to give up.
Getting Rid of Bad HabitsOne of the best side effects of taking up yoga is that it often motivates us to drink more water and to eat a healthier diet. The importance of keeping well hydrated becomes more apparent when we start exercising, and it is a habit that we often carry over into our everyday lives. Drinking more water can help to stay healthy and cleanse our bodies. We may also start to think more about what we eat. If we want to make the most of our yoga sessions and start improving our abilities, we need to eat well. We might start craving a more nutritious, protein rich diet that will give us the energy and nutrition we need to build stronger bodies, or simply wanting to extend our new, healthier, attitude to our diet. make the most of our improving fitness by detoxing and eliminating some of our other harmful habits. When you start to take better care of your body, you often gain the motivation you need to give up, or at least to reduce your consumption of, addictive substances such as tobacco and alcohol that are counteracting all of your efforts in class. The importance of breathing in yoga can make it a particularly good incentive to give up smoking, but yoga can also motivate you to give up other addictive substances. In fact, the focus and relaxation techniques that you learn from yoga can prove to be useful if your original goal was to recover from addiction. Some people take up yoga and then give up their bad habits, while others take up yoga because they are trying to cope with an addiction. Yoga is even being encouraged in some rehab programs to help people to develop a healthier mindset.
A Healthy Mind and BodyGiving us the motivation to take care of our bodies and to get rid of those toxic habits that have been holding us back is not the only way in which yoga can change our outlook on life. Yoga has also been proven to have some great mood-boosting abilities that can help to improve our mental wellbeing as much as our physical health. As well as helping us to overcome harmful habits and addictions, yoga can help us to cope with problems such as depression, stress and anxiety. What sets yoga apart from other forms of exercise is that it can help you to achieve much more than physical fitness. Practicing yoga can help to make you feel happier and more relaxed. It can make your body stronger and suppler, and it can inspire you to start living a healthier lifestyle. The way that you approach life can change when you take up yoga and start to listen to what your mind and body really need.
By Jennifer Byers
1. A Guide to Yoga from the NHS
2. Exercise helps you diet- if it’s the right kind, The Guardian
3. NHS advice on Food and drinks for sport
4. Freedom from Addiction, The Yoga Journal
5. Yoga Protects the Brain from Depression, The Telegraph
6. Spirituality and Mental Health, advice from the Royal College of Psychiatrists