Open the door to mind-body wellness

Two of the best ways to achieve a healthier life are through movement and spirituality. Each is an important tool in your fight against disease and premature death.

That’s why yoga is such a powerful practice; it serves as a bridge connecting your physical and mental well-being.

Strengthen Your Body
Practicing yoga can result in significant improvement to your physical health. As part of your daily routine, yoga will likely transform your body into one that is firmer, leaner and stronger. However, some of the most impressive benefits happen beneath the surface.

When you practice regularly, you increase your chances for lower blood pressure, improved cardiovascular health, better flexibility, greater muscle strength, perfected posture, better pulmonary function, lower blood sugar, boosted immunity and improved bone health (critical to warding off osteoporosis).

Transform Your Mind
When people think “health,” they tend to think only about the body. But a Health Hero knows that your mind is your greatest power.

What’s amazing is that the simple practice of cultivating your mind can actually improve your health and happiness and add years to your life!

Think of yoga as a workout for your soul. You need to condition it, like a muscle, in order to develop and grow stronger. Because yoga clears your mind of distracting “noise,” it creates space in which new things can develop.

You become empowered to discover yourself on a much more intimate level. Your personal strengths and desires become easier to identify. It becomes easier for you to focus and get creative. That alone leads you down a path to new ideas, solutions and purpose.

Conquer Your Stress
We know that stress is a silent killer, but did you know that yoga is the ultimate stress reducer? When you begin to breathe deeply and focus on your poses, you reduce anxiety. You enter a more relaxed state and calm your nervous system, diminishing the fight-or-flight response.

Yoga is believed to combat depression. In fact, a study published March 16 in PLOS ONE concludes that eight weeks of twice-weekly, 90-minute hatha yoga sessions can significantly reduce the severity of depressive symptoms.

Even your romantic relationship can improve. When you’re centered and more connected with yourself, you’re able to be that same way with your partner.

Imagine how your life could change if your body and mind transformed in these ways. What would you do differently with improved health, extra endurance, less anxiety, more focus and a greater sense of purpose?

You’d probably be able to enjoy life in entirely new ways.

Make the commitment to move with purpose every day. Even a few minutes of yoga will do the trick. If you’re stuck at work or have limited time to yourself, opt for an easy yet effective yoga pose that can quickly be done at home or in the office (try cat pose, forward fold and seated twist, as shown in the accompanying illustrations). A chair or a place to stand is all you need. Practice yoga every day, and the repetition will intensify the physical and mental health benefits while creating an ever-deepening spiritual connection.

Use the power of yoga to improve your mind-body wellness as you continue your journey toward a healthier and more purposeful life. Recognize that your health comes first and give yourself permission to make it a priority.

From the October 2017 issue of Live Happy magazine.