by Vanessa McDonald: Whenever we practice yoga, there is so much emphasis on mindful movement and intentional, mindful breathing. And for good reason!
If you’re experienced with yoga or have practiced for a while, perhaps you already know why this is so important. However, if you’re new to yoga, or if you’ve never really given it much thought, these can seem like idle words that don’t have much meaning.
But practicing mindful movement and breath can have deeply profound effects.
Here Are the Top 5 Benefits That Mindful Movement and Mindful Breathing Offer:
Read on to explore the top five benefits as to why we do these practices and what they can offer you in your yoga practice. And learn how to carry these skills off the mat and into your daily life.
1. Connect You to YOU
Yoga is a time when you can step out of the matrix of daily life and sit deeper in your own world. It’s a time where to-do lists and the chatter of the mind rest for an hour or so and we can dive deep into what we actually feel, and where we feel it.
To do this might be a little more challenging than it first appears. But it does become a lot easier when the mind is focused on what is important in your yoga practice: your movement and your conscious breathing.
Most yoga practices will begin with pranayama or breathing exercises. This is done intentionally to connect you to your breath, and then into your body when you begin your movement practice.
It’s a wonderful way to experience the self and be able to align more closely with what your body really needs.
2. Have a Safer Practice
Sometimes in our yoga practice, the ego steps in and decides that we can do things outside of our range. But this is actually the opposite of yoga.
Modern yoga has us convinced that the only way we are “true yogis” is when we can put our feet behind our head – but that is in no way true.
Yoga doesn’t demand things of the body, but rather invites us to stretch and bend ourselves in sometimes quite unusual and new ways.
And occasionally, yes, that is putting your feet behind your head, but it’s also – and more commonly – sitting quietly in simple movements or no movement at all.
Yoga doesn’t demand things of the body.
True yoga comes from the knowledge of limits within our bodies. So when we incorporate mindful movement into our practice – when we are able to sit presently with our body and its limits and capabilities on that particular day – we can avoid overstretching, injury, and unnecessary stress.
This also creates safety in the mind. When we begin to step further away from the “have tos” and “shoulds” that the narrative of the ego tells us, we connect more deeply to our inner knowing.
In doing this, we create a safe space for our bodies to exist in exactly the way we are that day, promoting a safe inner dialogue and positive self-talk.
3. Align With the Three Core Elements of Yoga
Yoga is not just about wearing cute leggings and doing a few Sun Salutations. Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in the physical practice of yoga.
However, if we’re simply moving with no connection to body or breath, we are just doing exercise and not honoring the true lineage and practice of yoga.
The three core elements of yoga are breath, body, and mind. When one of these aspects is missing, we’re also missing the point of yoga.
It’s only when we align with our body and its movements, breathing while moving, and also being present, that we are truly doing yoga.
This provides an experience much richer than just moving around on a mat and the benefits you will feel are far greater because you’re truly stepping into the traditions of the ancient practice of yoga.
4. Help You Sleep Better, Regulate Mood, and Promote Self-Care
When you practice yoga, there are so many more benefits than just what you feel when you float off your mat after class. Science has revealed that yogis are also floating through life.
When you practice mindful movement and conscious, mindful breathing in yoga, it eases your mind when it’s time to go to sleep. It also adjusts your mind so that you’re able to process and regulate your moods more easily.
Life will constantly have ups and downs, but have you ever noticed how yogis always seem happy?
When we make time for ourselves, it shows us that we are prioritizing our own care.
And facilitating the space for more self-care emphasizes practices like eating a healthy diet, following good sleep patterns, creating conscious connections with others, and living a balanced lifestyle overall.
5. Create a Heightened State of Awareness and Presence
Life can be pretty overwhelming at times; we all know this.
Our yoga practice is a time, not to discount all of those things that take over our lives, but to simply sit more calmly and patiently with them as they sort themselves in our minds.
We become aware of how we are perhaps catastrophizing situations, not acknowledging someone or something, or perhaps how we’ve missed a key component of an idea that can bring it to life.
When we sit with calm breath and awareness of our movements, it brings us back to our core – a steady, stable place where we can approach each moment with clarity and be present with our breath.
Mindful Movement and Mindful Breathing Are Undoubtedly Powerful Practices
So there you have just five reasons why a conscious connection to your breath and movement is so important when you step on (and off!) your mat. Remember your limits and feel free to explore within them.
You may find many more benefits for yourself as well – this list is truly unlimited!
I hope you enjoy all of these wonderful benefits when you step onto your mat next and move consciously and mindfully through your practice!