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Yoga, Ujjayi and The Mind-Body Connection
Often referred to as the "ocean breath," Ujjayi can prove particularly helpful in your continued endeavors to clear the mind of excess chatter.1 This yoga and meditation technique involves breathing with the diaphragm and through the nose, engaging the glottis so as to create a noise reminiscent of a beach-side vacation. With practice, the calming breath can be used to regulate skyrocketing blood pressure, an increasingly important accomplishment in this modern age of never-ending stress. Transferring focus to the act of breathing solidifies the mind-body connection, making such stress-reducing effects easily accessible to the dedicated yogi.
Yoga beginners generally regard the seemingly mythical mind-body connection as an elusive quality only accessible through years and years of dedicated practice. While it remains true that a regular yoga routine is instrumental in establishing a solid connection between the mind and body, this quality can be obtained far quicker than your average yoga participant might imagine. The key is a willingness to shut down the continued chatter responsible for so much stress in everyday life.
The concept of a mind-body connection can be a complicated one, particularly for those new to the world of yoga and meditation.2 Essentially, this approach proposes that, properly trained, the mind can be used to elicit positive effects throughout the rest of the body. Commonly cited examples of this phenomenon include the much-anticipated stress release experienced in the immediate aftermath of intimate activity, as well as a similar result commonly sought by through massage therapy. In both situations, the subject is only able to experience the full extent of positive bodily sensations through the calming of the mind.
Experts point out that the mind-body connection can work both ways.1 Although typically thought of as a force promoting improved physical health, the connection between the mind and the body also holds the potential to elicit negative responses. Yoga Journal's telling example of this unfortunate reality involves the oh-so-common experience of butterflies in the stomach. When the mind experiencing paralyzing fear prior to, say, a public presentation, such thoughts may be accompanied by equally unpleasant bodily sensations. This phenomenon sadly holds the potential for far larger ramifications, including, of course, the terrible health consequences of depression.
Formerly cast off by skeptics in the medical world, mind-body concept has recently experienced a whole-hearted embracing from industry's most esteemed researchers and caretakers. Research institutes3 point to the presence of psychological factors in everything from heart health to larger epidemics. Although one must acknowledge the role biology and genetics play in overall health and wellbeing, the importance of a positive mind-body connection cannot be overlooked.
The good news is, it's not all that difficult to establish a positive mind-body connection. Yoga continues to be one of the best tools for easing the burden of anxious thinking. The end result? Improved health, in, of course, both the mind and body.
1. Yoga Journal. "Yoga Therapy and the Mind-Body Connection, Part 1."
2. Psychology Today. “Can Depression be a Physical Illness?”
3. NIH. “Emotions and Health.”
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