Yoga — beyond the boundaries

As you begin to practice yoga, mindfulness is the primary focus.

by Khayriyyah Savannah — 

Yoga invites you to move beyond the boundaries of your perceptions. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal (Oct. 25, 2011) seems to question whether there are benefits to yoga beyond the physical. The article cites a study that states, “The physical aspects of yoga are effective at relieving low back pain, but it did not find any evidence that yoga provided broader mental benefits.”

An experienced practitioner will tell you that for those who practice yoga, the benefits are many — for the mind, body and spirit — and it is a process for bringing wholeness or union to the entire being. Yoga is a form of mind-body meditation. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Meditation is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine.”

As you begin to practice yoga, mindfulness is the primary focus. This begins with setting an intention for the practice and bringing awareness to the breath. A typical yoga class begins with a centering meditation and then moves into warm-up poses (asanas). Each asana is an invitation to focus on alignment, find individual boundaries (edge) and breathe into the form. Keeping the mind focused on the breath allows the body to move beyond its perceived limitations.

As your muscles strengthen, the joints loosen and become more flexible. In this way, physical boundaries are expanded and pain literally loses its grip. Your mind can now perceive what the body can do.

Bringing your mind and soul into yoga takes you beyond the physical benefits of stretching. Some physical pain is the body’s way of guiding you toward a return to wholeness. This is not something easily measured in a scientific study, so you may want to try it for yourself. Go beyond the boundaries. Namasté.

Khayriyyah Savannah, L.M.T., is a mind-body wellness and yoga practitioner in Tempe, Ariz. 480-544-6495 or ksavannah@cox.net.

 

Reprinted from AZNetNews, Volume 30, Number 6, Dec/Jan 2012.

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