How Movement is Good for the Mind

I’ve been moving my body in some way all my life. Started in the crib, learned to ski before I could walk, was taking swim lessons, tennis lessons, dance lessons from the earliest age you could possibly sign up.  Loved being on swimteam, tennis, soccer team, pom-pons, dance squad and more.

I’m not new to movement.

Some almost 23 years ago I was new to yoga after being run over by a car as a pedestrian. At that time I had no aspiration to do a full backbend or handstand or arm balance or put my foot behind my head. All I wanted to do was move by myself, drive myself, propel my actions without being afraid of breaking.  I learned how resilient the body is and how fragile at the same time.  Why did I start yoga? Because of the physical benefits. I don’t apologize for it any more, although I used to for a while when the yogier than thou yogis got me down. I thought that even though I loved the movement and that’s why I was in it I had to have loftier goals.  But I’ve come full circle.

Yoga is for the mind.  But it moves through the gateway of the body. Humans are physical beings.

So how does this work for the mind exactly if the practice is so physical? Well, scientists agree that the best form of exercise is that which involves learning complex movement, including balance and coordination.  That’s the textbook definition of yoga. Western science also goes on to say that MOVEMENT provides physiological release that we need to bring our body back into balance while at the SAME time it is also good for our brain where moving helps form more connections between the neurons in our brain.

Other benefits of learning coordinated movements which in yoga we call Vinyasa Krama include: improved mental well-being; increased neurotransmitters; mood regulation; anxiety control; ability to handle stress better; better socialization; ability to better process more information; enhanced attentiveness and improved ability to choose appropriate responses.

Of all those benefits and ways yoga helps the mind I like appropriateness the best.  I struggled for a long time as an overly sensitive person in appreciating how not to over-react to what others did or said.  Yoga calms my mind and makes me better able to not take things personally (Rule #2 in Don Miguel Ruiz book The Four Agreements).  I make better decisions when the noise in my brain quiets after practicing yoga. I need the yoga to impact the ventromedial portion of the frontal lobe of my brain!  And that comes as a result of moving. Movement is good for your Mind!

Love yourself, love your day, love your life!



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