Yoga can awaken us to the habitual limitations that we may have built within ourselves, so we can lead a more fulfilled life, says Jacqualine Tara Herron
I always say that the greatest and most valuable export from India is Yoga. In every city in the world, in small towns and villages, in mountain retreats and luxurious resorts, you will find the gene of yoga as an essential element of life and of living.
Yoga has become synonymous with words such as energy, rejuvenation, alignment, inner peace, de-stress, decompress, relax and centre. This seems like a lot of claims for one discipline, yet the inner dynamics of yoga, created by the conscious movement of the body in specific postures is a powerfully integral practice honed over hundreds, if not thousands of years of research and the search for freedom from suffering and a call to enlightenment. To awaken to our humanity and our presence in the physical body.
Surely over the years that our varying cultures and societies have evolved, the individuals’ initial motivation for yoga practice may be different, but it will lead the human body and mind into the same place. Every human being will experience different qualities and intensity of how yoga can benefit and change you, yet one element remains consistent and true for all — it is the experience of being Mindful. The practice of yoga is rooted in the conscious unity of the body and mind in an activity that brings a heightened awareness and sensitivity to how you really feel and the state of your mind.
Yoga asanas or postures, when practiced with specific breathing techniques affects the circulation of oxygen and of prana ‘energy’ into the physical system, causing a natural de-toxification of the blood and lymphatic system. The brain and central nervous system is revived through the biochemical changes in the blood when the breath flows into areas that may have been blocked by tension or misuse. This bio-chemical adjustment is generated by your own inner pharmacy, the Endocrine System, which has seven major glands, dynamic areas of endocrine activity.
The wellbeing and ‘mood’ of the body and mind are intrinsically connected to the influence of your endocrine glands, as these glands secrete neuro-chemicals and hormones directly into the blood stream. These secretions then circulate throughout your body influencing your mind. Yoga practice is designed to harmonise the body’s internal environment, your physiology, by the integration of the changes in the endocrine and nervous systems. This creates the connection on a cerebral and conscious level which then becomes your psycho-physiology. The relationship between the body and mind becomes more conscious, more aware of itself and therefore more positive. You naturally become more mindful and in touch with the reality of the moment both within yourself, within your relationships and other activities such as work and creativity of all kinds. Positive energy is the result of the union of focus, awareness and activity applied in such a way that there is total absorption of energy and therefore regeneration. This is also known as the Zen Mind or an open mind inquiring mind. An experience of human consciousness and its all embracing potential.
We can say that stress happens when we are ‘mindless’. When we are unfocused or negative, this can drain the body’s vital energy by dividing one’s attention into parts. Yoga creates an opportunity to unite all aspects of ourselves and therefore allows the mind and intellect to engage in a process of acceptance creating a space for change and transformation. This is being Mindful.
As human beings, our potential for creativity in every area of life seems to have no bounds, but the biological imprinting in the body-mind through unconscious conditioning can limit our potential for peace, for happiness, good health and wellbeing. Yoga can awaken us to the habitual limitations we may have unconsciously built within ourselves so that we can break through into a more fulfilled life.
Herron is an author, a wellness professional, yoga practitioner and director, The Imperial Spa and Salon