Here in the west the word “yoga,” has, in popular culture, become synonymous with the physical postures (asana) while meditation is seen as a separate practice. Yet at its core, Yoga means union, and its essential purpose is the integration of all the layers of life, body, mind and soul, so there is an ‘oneness’ in the essence of the practice between the postures and meditation.
When yoga is practiced in this way it enters into every aspect of our lives and becomes a living meditation in much the same way the Buddhist practice of mindfulness becomes mindful living.
This is the basis of the article by Alice Walton, writing in Forbes, part two of her post, “The Psychology of Yoga,” which is worth clicking past the pop-up advertisement to get to. I’ll start you off with a little taste…ﾠ
“Having explored the nuts and bolts of yoga’s amazing health benefits, it seemed natural to switch from the objective to the subjective, and take a look at what yoga has been shown to do in the mind. After all, many people say that after starting yoga they feel mentally stronger, more relaxed, less depressed, and more level-headed than before. Heck, I’m the first to admit it’s the best therapy I’ve ever had. So to discuss how and why these changes occur, I turned to two well-recognized and seasoned practitioners.
Stephen Cope, director of the Institute for Extraordinary Living at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, explains that yoga itself is a form of meditation, and herein lies its power. “Yoga provides attentional training and self-regulation,” he says. “In practicing yoga, we’re training our awareness to attend to the low of thoughts, feelings and sensations in the body – and to be with these different states without self-judgment or reactivity.”
In other words, yoga teaches a new kind of attention. People who practice yoga learn how to accept all the stress-inducing thoughts that flit around in one’s head – negative self-talk, worries, snap judgments – as just that: thoughts, and nothing more. Since reacting to our thoughts is typically what gets us into trouble, learning to attend to them and accept them nonjudgmentally is key. Then we can let them go, says Cope, and “make wise choices – not based on reactivity to these states, but on our best interests.”
This idea of paying attention to one’s thoughts in a nonjudgmental way is what mindfulness meditation, or mindfulness training, is all about. This ancient practice has gained a lot of interest from researchers (and regular folk) in recent years. Scientists have studied how mindfulness courses can change people’s reactions and behaviors, and how they can literally change the structure of the brain. Attentional training and mindfulness have been shown to provide major benefits in treating everything from stress and depression to serious addictions. And yoga seems to work in much the same way.”
The benefit of yoga as meditation is that the whole of the human nervous system is renewed; the body enjoys greater energy and health, the mind is freed from memories of the past and fantasizes of the future and perception becomes clearer and non-judgmental. ﾠClick here to visit the original source of this post