Why I Love Yoga & Yoga’s Impact On Lifestyle Medicine
I love yoga, but you may ask “what does yoga have to do with food”? My answer is simple. When we create mindfulness through a regular yoga practice (or any other form of inner consciousness connection exercise: Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Tae Kwon Do), we consciously make healthier choices in all areas of our lives. Ultimately, this means healthier food choices.
Neuroscience has come a long way in the last couple of decades studying the functions of the brain and past experiences and habits on current ways we act, react, and interact. We now know that inner conscious connection exercises that calm and *tone the vagal nerve, parasympathetic nervous system, allow individuals to think and take action through their frontal thinking brain. When we are stressed out our amygdala takes over and we react out of old patterns developed during times of stress and trauma. When we engage in a regular habit, yoga for one, that calms and tones the vagal nerve, we create new neural pathways of positive action. These new neural pathways allow us to stop and think instead of our standard emotional knee-jerk reactions.
Simply put: this means you no longer make choices based upon emotional triggers. You instead make choices based upon inner wisdom, peacefulness, and your thoughtful consideration.
“The Energy to keep going:
Regular Yoga practice gives us the energy to stay committed to the choices we make in life and the discipline, or tapas, to go deep within when we falter.” -Liz Lark
Why I Love Yoga
Back to yoga. Why I love yoga… because it works. It works on many levels, see my above comment around food choices. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj and means to yoke or bind. Yoga is often interpreted as a method of discipline that brings union (yoking or binding) to body, mind, and spirit. Yoga is the study of the Self. Yoga gives us tools to improve our lives by stripping away the illusions that block us from connecting with our true self, with others, and with life itself.
Yoga is a whole food that nourishes the body, mind, and spirit. Food is sacred to the body; it nourishes and sustains us. Love is sacred to the mind and heart; nourishing the very part of us, our spirit, that gives to others and gives back to ourselves. Yoga is the breath of the spirit: keeping our life force strong, allowing the flow of love into the heart, and keeps our body, mind, spirit in harmony.
For many years I was into serious weight training and I felt that I was very strong. When I started to do yoga, I was humbled. I could not push up into a backbend. After a few weeks of regular yoga practice, I had the backbend thing down. Years later, I now do reverse push-ups. Push-ups from the backbend pose. But the strength I have gained is through my whole body, mind, and spirit.
Over the years I realized my yoga strength ran deeper than my muscles. My choices around food and other lifestyle habits became more conscious in a health-promoting way. I paid attention to eating with awareness, chewing food well, eating only what I needed, and stopping before I was stuffed. These habits around food and food choices slipped in the back door; all part of the study of self: yoga. All those years of doing yoga transformed the way I interacted with myself and the world around me. And it made me love yoga even more.
Positive things I noticed around food: not needing to fill my plate to the brim or returning to the potluck table for another round of food, being satisfied with enough, passing on the desserts as sweet foods no longer dominated my taste buds, feeling abundance and satisfaction with light meals, and reveling in the flavors/colors/textures/and gift that each meal brings.
When we stop the constant chatter inside our heads and still our minds through mindfulness activities (yoga and other inner conscious connection exercises), we tend to make choices that are in alignment with what is best for our health. And we can do this without feeling deprived. We have learned to live in the present moment and make life-giving choices.
A cluttered “chattery” mind is not consciously aligned in mind, body, and spirit. When we are not aligned, we tend to make decisions based upon impulse and cravings to satisfy self, our ego, RIGHT NOW. When we tone our vagal nerve, we start making decisions in alignment with what is best for long-term health.
When we quiet our minds, we use our emotions to our advantage.
When our minds are busy, our emotions use us.
- Change is defined as the process of becoming different, substituting one thing for another, biological metamorphosis, a life changing personal development.
- Consciousness is awareness of one’s own existence and behaviors, inwardly attentive and mindful.
- Conscious change involves will and deliberateness, altering self in an intentionally conceived manner.
When we discover that something we are doing in our lives no longer serves our higher purpose as a human, conscious change is how we evolve. When we discover that the lifestyle and food choices we have made, consciously or not, are not reflections of our higher selves, we move to make a change. We realize our bodies are not vibrating at our highest level of health and we seek out ways to change this: to heal current symptoms and weight issues and prevent lifelong degenerative diseases from interfering with our vibrant quality of life.
Remember that life is always for us. Lifeforce energy is always moving towards the positive: health and healing. It is humans who tend to go against the healing flow of nature. If we allow ourselves to be in this flow, positive things will happen. Healing will happen.
Yoga, or any inner conscious connection, body awareness type habit aligns our bodies, our minds, and our spirits so we make life-giving choices. Yoga helps us to become normalized in our eating, to carve out a pattern of lifestyle medicine that is normal and healthy for us. Yoga helps us to walk into the Potsdam Food Coop and make choices that feed and nourish every cell of our being. We then walk out with life-giving, whole foods to nourish ourselves and our families.
*An article that is simple and to the point on Vagal Nerve Toning and Health:
The words, in the image below, exemplify how toning the Vagal Nerve improves our wellbeing.
Do you love yoga? What benefits have you seen from its practice?
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