You may have heard that when stressed yoga for mental wellbeing can be a great support. But, what are the key tools, and how does it work? In this article, Kiranjot shares her top 5 ways to use yoga to support your mind and body.
The mind can take you from heaven to hell in a heartbeat. Most people think of yoga as a workout originating in India for a beautiful bendy body but in reality it is an ancient spiritual practice for peace of mind. Here are five simple, practical suggestions on how you could use yoga to improve your mental wellbeing.
In yoga, breath practices are known as pranayam which literally translates as breath control. Breath controls the mind and every mental state has its own breath pattern. A rate of over 8 breaths a minute is a sign of stress so it’s easier than you think to soothe yourself. Simply by slowing your breath down to less than 8 breaths a minute, pulling it in slowly, smoothly and deeply and pushing it out again in the same manner, is instantly calming. Keep it up for 3 – 5 minutes and you be feeling much more relaxed and clear headed.
Our minds are stuffed full with masses of information. People always say: “Oh I couldn’t possibly meditate because my mind is so busy.” What they’re really saying is my mind is full up. Meditation is the mental version of a spring clean, a declutter of useless, irrelevant, unhelpful thoughts. During meditation, we come to realise that we are not our minds. We are able to actually control what and how we think about things. When you develop a meditation practice the mind becomes a much less scary place and it gives us great authority about how we react to life events big and small.
The word mantra means mind wave. Chanting unfamiliar words out loud can make you feel self-conscious. There are ways of working with mantra without having to do this. My go-to lazy / busy person’s guide to yoga involves listening to beautiful uplifting mantra music, it instantly brings positive energy into your environment. I also play specific mantras If there’s something I’m working through very quietly on repetition as I sleep. You could also use silent affirmations. When I felt at my worst during lockdown I went around the supermarket chanting, ‘it’s ok, I’m ok’ over and over to myself. It helped to drown out the more unhelpful thoughts rumbling away in the background.
See how low down the list what most people think yoga is. Some simple stretches, help relive physical tension, and soothe aches and pains that bug us either consciously or unconsciously. Your yoga routine doesn’t need to be complicated or take hours. A simple 10 minute sequence of yoga stretches works wonders. It doesn’t have to be stretches, shaking the body is particularly brilliant, fun and useful if traumatic events trigger mental health issues. Put some lively drumming music on, and shake for ten minutes.
Do you feel inspired to try some movement guided by Kiranjot including shaking, followed by relaxing gong? Try out Kiranjot’s Kundalini Kriya for Overwhelm
Do you eat for comfort or vitality? The yogis knew all about food combining and fasting. The great thing about yoga is it helps with poor impulse control and decision making. If you’re fuelled by sugar your hormones, mood and energy levels are going to be all over the place. Ditto if the food you’re eating is causing you digestive discomfort or you feel constantly tired or foggy minded, a little yoga practice will give you the energy to help you make better decisions about what you eat and when.
The feel good buzz of yoga helps us feel better in ourselves . Mind and body are so closely interlinked. Move one and you’ll affect the other.
Kiranjot has been teaching yoga to thousands of people for over 13 years. If you’re ready to make a positive change in your life then check out her classes on MFML. You can read more about Kiranjot on her website.