Mind Over Body

Ever wondered if thinking positively really helps in boosting your immune system? Is it something that is said by yoga teachers to make students feel more “yogi-like” or does it really work? Does it   mean what the teachers have been trying to explain to students?

If you practise alternative nostril breathing (nadi shodhana), closing off one nostril with your finger and inhaling from the opposite nostril, after doing so then try closing your eyes and imagine the same application but without your fingers physically closing your nostrils. It is amazing that you can still feel you are breathing using alternate nostrils if your mind believes you are doing so. Everything that happens in the mind creates an effect in the body. It is the power of mind over body. 

The power of our mind allows us to make our body do things that we would otherwise view as incredibly difficult or impossible. If our mind tells us we are tired or for instance we are unable to stretch our legs fully, then most likely our body will not be able to do the work. If we have a positive mindset and remind ourselves that we should still try, and in time to come when we keep practising, we will be able to stretch our legs fully. If your mind gives up, your body gives up automatically.

Many students start practising yoga with stiff or tight muscles, immobility of the joints, shortness of breath, lack of energy etc. As they practise more regularly allowing their body movements to flow with their breathing, the mind will gradually tune towards focussing on breathing and surprise surprise…any other thoughts in the mind will not be an influence as the mind becomes more and more attuned to focus only on the present moment on the mat.

When you allow your mind to think of a thousand and one tasks that you need to accomplish, you may most likely fall into a multi-tasking mode. Before you finish one task, you are already getting onto  the next task on your list. Resting or relaxing is perhaps the last thing on your mind because that would mean you are slacking and guilt will start to kick in.

There is nothing wrong with allowing your mind to rest and by resting it may be good to take time-out to make a cup of tea and do some reading, watch a television programme or just sit down and have a rest. Your mind may be active for the first 10 minutes while resting and this is a good opportunity to clear those thoughts and write down anything that comes into your mind. This is because you will usually remember most things that you may have forgotten when your mind starts to relax after being busy. After this you can then start to relax. A quiet mind also provides the optimum state for renewal and healing, giving your body the space it needs to regenerate.

That leads to one of the pose in yoga practise – Svasana (resting pose) during the end of the yoga practise. This is the time you allow yourself to lie down onto the mat with your eyes closed, scanning each part of your body to remind yourself to relax. You may drift in and out of sleepy consciousness while scanning through your body but by end of Svasana, you will find that your mind is calmer and feeling refreshed from the pose. It has to do with your mind controlling your body to feel this way. And it turns out that mindful awareness of the body plays a role in our stress resilience, our freedom from suffering, and our capacity to experience happiness.