Mindfulness and Yoga

Mindfulness and Yoga
Theresa Jamieson
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"Mindfulness and Yoga have specific benefits as standalone practices or when used together - to nourish, replenish and restore balance and as effective ways to reduce the harmful effects of stress and related symptoms" (Chopra, 1993).
"Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally. This kind of attention nurtures greater awareness, clarity, and acceptance of present moment reality. It wakes us up to the fact that our lives unfold only in moments. If we are not fully present for many of those moments, we may not only miss what is most valuable in our lives but also fail to realize the richness and the depth of our possibilities for growth and transformation” (Kabat-Zinn, 1994, p.4).

Yoga and meditation encourage self-awareness, calmness and greater peace of mind resulting in less reactivity to stressors and thereby better stress management. The benefits include increased vitality and wellbeing - physical, mental and emotional, with reduction in fatigue, nervous tension, anxiety, and depression.

"The aim of mindfulness is to pay attention, that is to know what you are doing while you are doing it. It means becoming awake to life with a calm and restful alertness, with a non-judgmental awareness of feelings and thoughts - to bring the mind back home to itself for deeper insight, inner reflection and wisdom."
(Sogyal, 1994).

"Mindfulness can be a formal meditation practice or done in a more informal way, as every moment of every day is an opportunity to be consciously here, in the present moment - in meditation with life. Mindfulness practices encourage observation and appreciation of oneself and the world, to see beauty in the smallest things and to find the unexpected treasures that nature is always offering. Mindfulness can be everywhere and in every moment."
(Chopra, 1993).

Mindful yoga includes gentle stretching with breath awareness to increase flexibility, strength and tone.

It is practiced with the same mind state and present moment awareness as the body scan and sitting meditations. Mindful yoga is approached with a 'beginners mind set' - without comparisons or judgments of oneself or previous practice, just with appreciation for how it is in the moment. It is always practiced without force or staining, and with acceptance of how the body is feeling, moment to moment.

"Yoga is really meditation in movement and when yoga is practiced mindfully it encourages you to tune in to your body, “listening carefully to what your body is telling you and honouring its messages”.
(Kabat - Zinn, 1990, p. 97)

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