I have heard, "flowers blossom onto the trees when the energy is overflowing".
This morning while unrolling my mat for yoga on my roof terrace that faces a vast farm land, I saw a farmer removing a little earth from a blocked channel to make water flow into the path.
That made me smile, as this what yoga is - a way of living!!
It's not just postures or exercise. It's a methodology to de-hypnotize, to unblock the repressive mind-body energy which causes anguish, anxiety and split, and channelize or join this overflowing energy back to its source of peace, love and joy - our true nature of Sat-Chit-Anand.
Seventy percent of man's diseases are psychosomatic, means they are rooted in the psyche before the symptoms start manifesting in the body. So to cure a disease, we can either begin from mind or from body.
And yoga begins healing through both sides together resulting into physical-mental and emotional wellbeing.
Like physics or mathematics, it is an inner scientific process, if followed sincerely by anyone, irrespective of age, sex or religion, it brings the same results of tranquillity.
The various aspects of yoga like Bhakti (yoga through devotion), Gnana (yoga through intelligence), Karma (yoga through physical action) and Kriya (yoga or joining through the inner action of energies), nourishes and harmonizes the body, mind and emotions differently.
How it happens and its powerful effects on the mind, are shown to us by briefly understanding the Eightfold Path Steps given by its founder- Patanjali.
The first two steps are Yom (Self-Restraint) and Niyam (Fixed Observance)
Self-restraint which is different from its English meaning 'suppressing'. It literally means giving direction or centre to the crowded mind.
Mind without direction causes tension, anxieties, and a split, by pulling itself in all directions at the same time.
Disciplining helps in un-grooving the mind from its old patterns of creating misery. It motivates the mind to keep moving around the centre. So both these steps help in the crystalization of the self.
Its impact is reported in the scientific journal of Psychiatric Practice. After 20 yoga sessions, patients with bipolar disease, anxiety and depression felt an elevation of mood and health.
Similar positive results of yoga is also seen in other psychiatric disorders like ADHD, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).
The third step is Asanas (Body Postures)
The fourth is Pranayama (Regulating and Controlling of Inhalation and Exhalation of Breath)
Every yoga posture, expression and mudra has a corresponding effect on the mind. For example, to treat anxiety there is a certain body posture because mind - body is usually referred to as one phenomenon.
Each posture increases mental efficiency as it takes the usual outer flow of energy inwards. So if you want new creative ideas for that project you have at hand driving you crazy...worry not - yoga can be your stress buster and saviour too. Don't forget to keep yoga on your priority to do list because it surely help in creatively inspiring you in new ways.
You may be surprised to know, GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) the 'feel good' brain chemical that puts hold on the rushing mind, increases during yoga resulting in relaxation of the mind during stress and insomnia. That's why doctors recommend yoga over jogging. Though both have its own benefits yoga wins hands down.
Pranayama helps to rejuvenate the fatigued cells of the brain, nerves and muscles by supplying enough oxygen to the brain.
BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) - A protein that is naturally secreted during pranayama acts as a natural antidepressant and that's without any side effect.
Mind and emotions change breath rhythm differently. So if anyone, especially teenagers learn and practice pranayama, they can easily be resilient towards anger, hostility or fear.
It also increases mental immunity.
Practising the fifth step, Pratayahar (Abstraction) and sixth step Dharna (Concentration), improves memory and mental focus.
In a study conducted, yoga participants performed better in learning new language skills and multitasking than the group involved in some other sport. The yoga group brain scans were more clear and communicative.
Particularly for older adults, practising yoga can bring tremendous benefits when cognitive abilities start declining with age.
And finally, the seventh step is Dhyana (Meditation) which helps bring peace, joy and tranquility by transcending the restless lower mind.
Through senses, the mind creates a connection with the outside world and hence, gets attached
to the outside objects which is the reason of all pain and misery. By practising meditation one learns dis-identification of the mind, that is snapping the connection of the senses with the outside world and taking that energy inward. By this a yoga practitioner can use the mind whenever needed but can't get exploited by it.
Meditation results in complete balance of mind, body and emotions.
This results in the ultimate flowering of the being - equilibrium state - Samadhi
Swati Kumar is a Psychologist, Life Positive Wellness Coach and Relationship Counsellor. She holds frequent workshops on various dimensions of wellness - including mind, body and emotions that help to increase general wellbeing as well as emotional and spiritual IQ. She is an avid meditator and also leads advanced meditation sessions for individuals, groups and organisations.