“When the mind is as clear as transparent glass there is nothing that could disturb the body; there is no rubbish lying about. On the other hand, if we notice hesitancy, discontent, fear of doing something because it might be inappropriate, and so forth, we can assume that here are blockages in the system. These blockages do not just occur in the physical body; they exist more in the mind, in consciousness.”
– T.K.V. Desikachar
“The longer I practice as a medical professional, the more I realize the truth in this quote. These blockages of the mind influence our physical bodies more than most of us have ever considered. Such obstacles are known as kleshas in Sanskrit and prevent us from being our best and healthiest selves, as science continues to prove. Patañjali describes the 5 kleshas as:
- Spiritual ignorance (avidya);
- Ego (asmita);
- Attraction to pleasure (raga);
- Aversion from pain (dvesha); and
- Clinging to life (abhinivesha).
When the mind becomes hindered by one or more mental hurdle, we suffer. Suffering does not necessarily mean tears and fetal-position pain, but all distress has a negative impact on the patterns of our mind and subsequently, our body.
Our body is a physical representation of our mind. I heard a great quote before that goes something like this, “If you want to know what your body will look like in the future, look at your thoughts today.” This simply means that if you are thinking positive, grateful, and happy thoughts today, your physical body and appearance will mirror those thoughts.
Positive thoughts are protective, while negative thoughts are destructive. We physically manifest our thoughts at the cellular level and these alterations expand from system to system, subsequently influencing our body as a whole. We have learned through science that cortisol, a hormone released with stress, creates an inflammatory state within the body, increasing the rate of cell division, essentially causing our cells to replicate so quickly that they live a shorter life, in addition to other complications that can develop along the way, including missed cellular mutations. This is a simplified explanation as there is more to negative thoughts than merely inflammation, but for the sake of this article, you get the idea: bad thoughts are bad for the body.
Yoga is much more than a physical practice. Yoga means “to come together, unite” or “to tie the strands of the mind together”. At the very root of yoga is this concept of wholeness and such a holistic philosophy is what so many healing modalities today are lacking. Yoga helps us tackle these afflictions of the mind, which as we have established is the root cause for many afflictions of the body. Here are 5 things that yoga teaches us to help ease the mind, thereby protecting the physical body.
Prāṇāyāma is conscious breathing. If our mind’s eye is on our breath, we cannot be caught in an obstacle. I have found the more recent, heightened focus of the medical community on breath training to be both amazingly interesting and fantastic! For decades, science has proven the positive impact of correct breathing on our minds and our bodies. What is most exciting now is that this pool of evidence-based knowledge is growing by the day and many health professionals are returning to the most basic of our living functions as a tool through which to improve patients’ health.” Continued…