How yoga helps to slow you down

By Ilona Coryndon Burns.

‘We know the world only through the window of our mind.
When our mind is noisy, the world is as well.
And when our mind is peaceful, the world is, too.
Knowing our mind is just as important as trying to change the world.’
Zen Monk, Haemin Sunim

As a yoga teacher, I am often asked, ‘how can I turn my brain off?’. This is frequently paired with a statement like, ‘I’m always feeling tired/rushed/drained’.
When yoga students sit down on their mat, practice follows and, after a final relaxation, I love to see their calmness, the blissful expressions and slower, more considered movements which are so different to the often stressed, nervous energy they arrive with.

Why is that?
It is because they slowed down. Yoga, along with similar practices such as Pilates, Tai Chi and meditation force you to slow down.
Even when you are doing intense physical practice, your mind is able to let go. Remove the distractions – phones, email, social media; all the things that normally demand your attention, and suddenly, the mind can breathe.
We are bombarded by information constantly, both consciously and subconsciously. This can result in a reduced ability to focus, increased irritability and low mood.
Be honest, when was the last time you completely disconnected, and were present moment to moment? When
did you last leave your phone in a different room, and didn’t feel the need to check for notifications or likes?
It’s no accident that many great inspirations and breakthroughs have happened when a person has been daydreaming or allowing their mind to wander.
Your mind needs downtime to process and work through problems. There are things you can only see when you slow down; and you can add moments of downtime to even the busiest day.
So, next time you’re walking, waiting for the kettle to boil, or the shower to heat; put the phone away, take out the headphones and try this simple breathing exercise:
● Take a long, slow breath in counting to four in your head
● Hold that to a count of four
● A long, slow exhale out to a count of four
● Hold the breath for a count of four
● Repeat at least twice more, or up to 20 rounds
That simple act will slow your heart rate, reduce your blood pressure and give your brain a break. Your mind, and body will thank you.
Ilona Coryndon Burns runs Yoga Stuff Ltd in Salisbury

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