By now, you probably know that yoga will make you feel good. What you might not know, however, is just how vast the benefits are. Yes: yoga will improve the health of your tissues as well as your flexibility, but gaining a yogi mind is a sunny little secret that blossoms quickly alongside regular time on your mat. Yoga wasn’t developed 2,500 years ago so you could look good in those sweet new Oiselle crops — it began as a meditative practice and the poses emerged as part of a moving meditation. The physical practice teaches your brain to suppress your sympathetic nervous response — the “fight or flee” reaction — in times of duress and provides a bridge to a calm state of being present on your mat. By matching each movement to the rhythm of your breath, movement becomes meditation up until you reach the final stillness of Savasana aka the final relaxation pose.
So, if you think meditation is just Om chanting, fingers touching, monk stuff, think again. Meditation is simply being mindful and present — a quiet moment away from the carousel of thoughts in your mind. This is a gift in these times when our culture has come to foster a collective stress and anxiety that leaves little room to just be in the moment. Seriously — Who doesn't want to feel more chill?
Stress costs U.S. companies $300 billion a year, according to the World Health Organization, due to burnout and absenteeism. Stress and anxiety are legit, and researchers have found some amazing proof that simple meditation combats those issues. At Harvard Medical School, studies have shown that with 30 minutes of meditation per day over 8 weeks, gray matter (neurons) in the hippocampus (learning and memory) and the prefrontal cortex (impulse control, personality, and social behavior) of the brain increases. Gray matter was also decreases in the Amygdala, which is associated with anxiety and stress. Still with me? You’re really going to like this next part: Nobel Peace Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn has proven that just 12 minutes of daily meditation over eightweeks can reduce the activity of a DNA replicating enzyme (Telomerase) that speeds aging due to stress.
The power of meditation is undeniable and, luckily, you can practice anytime, anywhere. Each day is an opportunity to start fresh, try something new, and be the best you that you can be — more ease-fully. So, hit the snooze button on life for just a bit, take a brief moment to sit quietly, appreciate each invigorating breath, and Hit Reset. Here’s one of our fave meditations to get you started.
Let us know how it goes! How do you meditate?