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Yoga and Meditation: The Simple Science of Why It Works

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Make a tight fist.

Hold it.

Hooooold it.

Hold it until it becomes uncomfortable.

Keep holding.

Now relax.

Make a fist again.

Was it easier to make a fist the second time?

That’s the way yoga and meditation work for the body and mind. You give the body and mind a break from ‘the grind‘, so that you can come back again, stronger and sharper.

When people call it ‘yoga‘, most people are referring to yoga stretching. But ‘yoga‘ means a lot more than just stretching; breathing, meditation, yoga stretching and basically a way of life. You don’t just have to be flexible to do yoga.

Every day, for the past 13 years, I’ve done some yoga. Haven’t skipped a day. Almost always, I do it in the wee hours of the morning. If not then, then no later than mid-day. This particular day, however, I woke up, jumped out of bed, ran around like a lunatic and didn’t sit down on my yoga mat until 8 o’clock at night, after I put the kids to sleep.

The house was quiet but messy. It seemed more enticing to sit at the computer and space out on Facebook, or to clean up a little (yeah right). But, I know that mind of mine. I told it to shut up, and I sat down on my mat. My mind was racing and I almost felt sick from all the running around we had done throughout the day.

When you’re running around all day and get caught up in your thoughts, you seldom take a moment to notice your body. And, if you’ve ever noticed, when you’re absent minded, that’s when you tend to hurt yourself and make stupid decisions… I had been tripping, dropping things and hurting myself all day! A little attention inward can stop those things from happening.

First, I did some yoga stretches. The stretching helped to bring my awareness back to my body and eventually to my breath and mind.

Next, I did some sitting still breathing exercises… and this was when I noticed the ants in my pants. My whole body felt like jumping up and running somewhere! I had 8,000 thoughts in my head too. I was 100% restless! I usually don’t feel this awful, because I do my yoga and meditation practice early in the morning, before the stress of an entire day weighs down on my head.

Finally, I sat to meditate. After a few minutes, I could feel my tense muscles relax. My mind started to quiet down. I had a few more thoughts bubbling up, and again felt like running around like a crazy woman… but I sat still… Then, I took a deep breath and when I went to open my eyes, 45 minutes after I first sat on my yoga mat, I found that I had a smile on my face.

All the thoughts that had been racing around in my mind half an hour ago, were virtually gone.

Ahhh….

Here’s the mini science lesson:

The brain has four major brain wavelengths (frequencies) 

Beta: When the brain is alert and conscious, but also can be stressed, anxious, afraid or agitated.

Alpha: When we are feeling alert and conscious, but relaxed, creative and clear.

Theta: A state of reduced consciousness, when half asleep, or meditation

Delta: Deep sleep or unconsciousness

Most people go between delta (sleeping) and beta (stressed), with very little of the other states.

When we do yoga and meditation, the brain goes into theta (meditative) wavelengths. After the brain goes into theta wavelengths, then the brain can easily go into alpha wavelengths (alert, yet relaxed).

When you are generally more relaxed, your body does not produce as much cortisol (stress hormone). Too much stress hormone makes your body and mind function at a not-so-optimal level.

Interesting. Simple. Right?

I researched the studies on yoga and brain frequencies almost ten years ago, when I was completing my Bachelor of Science and again when I completed my Masters of Educational Practice a few years later. I would go searching for the links to prove these things to you, but I’m just sharing my experiences with you. The naysayers can google it if they don’t believe me.

After thirteen years of practice and teaching yoga and meditation, I can assure you that yoga and meditation have a powerful impact on your brain. And since your brain controls your body, your memory and all these other cool things that even science can’t even prove, then there’s no question that yoga and meditation work!

Science and spirituality are not so very different. Although… today’s science doesn’t explain yoga 100%. Science can’t quite explain the enormous amount of relief I feel when I open my eyes after a good yoga session. Ommmmm…..

This photo is of my dear friends on World Yoga Day… the one day in 13 years that I almost skipped doing yoga

To learn a really good yoga practice, do an Art of Living program near you! 

 

 

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