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Mental Benefits of Yoga

It is well known that yoga is a great way to improve our bodies strength, balance, and flexibility but the benefits go beyond physical. They can range from reducing stress and anxiety, promoting relaxation and increase mindfulness.

Calming the Mind

When we are stressed or anxious our minds can become frantic. Breathing and flowing though poses draws your attention and focus to the present which pushes you to a relaxed state of mind.

Controlled Breathing

When we are stressed, we often hold our breath or breathe in short quick breaths which can lead to more anxiety. Yoga teaches breathing exercises and techniques that promotes movement, reduces strain, and encourages the body to relax. An example of this is the three-part breathing technique.

Three Part Breathing Technique

  • Sitting in a comfortable position (this can also be done lying on down on your back) placing one hand over your heart and the other on your navel.
  • Relax your shoulders, face, and jaw. Inhale to your stomach, chest and ribs.
  • Slowly release the breath from your stomach, chest, and ribs. Repeat for 5 full breaths

Better Sleep

Yoga can be a restorative way to wind down after your day. During your practice you reduce levels or cortisol which is a primary stress hormone Some yogi’s also believe the mindful breathing and mediation sends you to a state of relaxation preparing you for rest.

>> Below are three poses to promote sleep <<

Child’s Pose

  • Kneel on the floor and bring your big toes together.
  • Separate your knees hips width apart or as wide as the edges of the mat.
  • Exhale and sink your torso onto your thighs.
  • Reach your hands forward, palms down on the mat.
  • Keep your forehead on the ground, this releases tension in your brow.
  • Take slow and steady breaths, in and out through your nose.

Reclining Butterfly

  • Lie down on the mat.
  • Bend your knees, and place your feet on the floor, close to your tailbone.
  • Bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to relax away from each other, while placing blocks or firm cushions underneath your knees on each side to support your hips.

Legs up the Wall

  • Find an empty space on your wall and place your mat perpendicular to the wall.
  • Sit down on the mat and bring your left or right side to the wall as close as possible, so your side body meets the wall.
  • Lie back onto mat, and gently place your legs up the wall.
  • Relax your arms by your sides.

Rachel has been with MVP since 2012 and is currently Co-Director at MVP Metro Club in Downtown Grand Rapids. As a certified MOSSA Instructor and NASM Fitness Trainer, Rachel trains a number of clients and teaches a variety of group fitness classes including Group Ride, Group Power, Zone Training, Group Core, Group Blast, TFW and others. Rachel finds her motivation by setting and achieving goals for herself and others.

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