Mindful Mondays: Yoga is Reconnecting with Your Mind, Body, Emotions

Last week, I (Teryn) talked about how unhealthy our modern obsession with the pixelated
image (think Instagram, Facebook, etc) can be. Many of you (including myself) often
pay unhealthy attention to images that most likely depict a downright dishonest or
skewed view of what’s really going on in the complex reality of life. This emphasis
on the image plays into an unhealthy view of yoga, too. When you see photo after
photo of extremely strong, flexible people in exotic locations doing yoga, it’s easy to
think, “I guess I’m not good enough for yoga!” Or you falsely think if you just tried
hard enough, you could have the Yoga Body.

As I mentioned last week, this is not what yoga is ultimately about. So today I wanted to talk a little bit about what yoga is about. I’m constantly reminding students that the poses aren’t the complete essence of yoga. The “fitness” is not really the heart of yoga. Although it can be fun, yoga is not just about the shapes or contortions you can make with your body. It’s about a whole lot more.

Yoga is About Connection to the Breath

One important aspect of yoga is about connecting to your breath. Your breath is a
powerful tool that communicates to the rest of your body about the mental, emotional, and even physical states you’re in. The more science learns about the breath and various nervous system reactions to the breath, the more we know that learning how to breathe is actually really
important to the mental, emotional, and physical health of the body.  For example, have you ever noticed how you start breathing more shallowly when you’re angry? You can actually calm your anger down, then, by breathing in an intentionally soothing manner.  Yoga is all about learning to notice the breath and start communicating to the body through the breath. It’s a link to breath with movement very intentionally, and there is a plethora of breathing practices that can you
start regulating you breath in deeper ways so that you can navigate the challenges you encounter throughout life.

Yoga is about Body Awareness

As you learn how to breathe and notice all the subtle influences the breath has on the body, you are also learning how to listen more deeply to your body. And having awareness for your body is key, because your body tells intricate stories about the complexities of your life.  For example, you may not admit cognitively that you’re angry about a past moment in time when your spouse hurt you, but your body will physically manifest pain due to anger. It’s true that our bodies hold
emotions and that these emotions can show up in a myriad of symptoms. This mind/body/emotion connection has started to become appreciated in Western science, and the research is pretty fascinating.  But for now, know that your body does hold your history, your emotions, and your memories. Yoga is a powerful way to start connecting your awareness to that fact.


Yoga is about Inner Landscape Connection

When you start becoming aware of your breath and aware of your body in deeper ways, this can be a vital way to start connecting to your inner landscape. If the thought of an “inner landscape” makes you sort of wrinkle your forehead, then don’t worry. The world often has an obsessive emphasis on our exterior landscape, the shapes and contours that our exterior bodies can or can’t make. But our inner landscape is a whole other world that has to be paid attention to in deep
manners as well. It’s JUST as important—and hopefully the last few paragraphs have helped you see that.  If the mind, body, and emotions are all connected, it would make sense that the inner world must be paid attention to as well, right? Because if you’re really stressed through an emotional event, your body and breath will manifest symptoms that will come out in powerful ways inside your body. And this all leads to health symptoms. It’s all connected.

Yoga is Learning about Yourself for Profound Self Awareness and

And this is why yoga is cool. Because it connects the breath, the body, and the mind in a powerful way! That inner landscape connection is about learning to love your whole being. It’s about listening to the deepest core of who you are, releasing toxic emotions and patterns, and learning to live a genuine, authentic life.  If you’ve ever had a profound experience during a yoga class and
had no idea why, if you’ve ever felt moved to tears or had something significant come up, know that there is a reason for that. If a yoga teacher is intentional about what they’re leading you through and the experience they’re trying to cultivate, you may find opportunities to reconnect with yourself in deep and meaningful ways through yoga. When done in an effective
way, yoga can be some of the most healing, liberating work you ever do for mind, body, and soul!

All of these topics could take blog post after blog post to unpack, and frankly, I myself am on the journey of discovery just like you! But it’s pretty mind-blowing when you start thinking through the deeper benefits of yoga and cut through all of the fitness-speak.

Mindful Moment:

Think for a moment about your fitness journey. No matter how much time you spend at the gym for cultivating the exterior body, what are you doing to tend to the inner landscape of your mind and emotions? Have you ever realized how those are connected? Think about an emotion like anger contrasted with a peaceful emotion.  Take a moment to think about a time when you got really angry. Think about the reactions your body has to anger, where you feel it in your body, and how you begin to breathe when anger starts coming up. Then think about something nice and peaceful, and notice the differing effects in your body and breath. Everything IS connected, if we just become aware.  If you could be more intentional with the mind, body, and emotional
connections in your own life, where could that lead you? Think about the benefits in your life of paying attention to both exterior health as well as interior health.

At Flourish, we are intentionally creating a space for physical movement, as well as emotional and mental wellbeing! Come check out a class today. If you have any questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to talk to me (Teryn) or Abby! 

Abby Mortenson