Problogger, Gina Blitstein, discusses the mind-body connection and offers up ways to promote harmony by balancing mind and body.
Stress is a fact of life, whether you’re a CEO, parent, student or all of the above. Stress can be felt in your mind and in your body too. Ideally, your mind and body are in sync, helping each other get through the challenges of the day. When the body and mind are not working in harmony, both suffer.
"Finding ways to keep your sanity and balance in life is necessary for a happy mind and healthy body." says Renee Rayles, author of The Super, Sexy, Single Mom on a Budget . Renee practices "Me Time" every day in order to stay balanced in her busy life. She suggests the following practices:
- Journaling , writing a gratitude journal that will help you focus on the positive aspects of your life.
- Take a long, hot bath with candles and wine.
- A girls’ night out if not every weekend then every other weekend to let loose and catch up with your girls!
Renee’s philosophy inspired me to think about how I deal with stress. When I imagine feeling my best, I immediately think of the importance of strength and vitality. Maintaining the feeling that I am able to take on the challenges of my life requires a daily commitment. I try to take care of myself physically through living a healthy lifestyle which includes eating well and getting enough exercise. I’m no fanatic about it by any stretch of the imagination but the fact remains that the more diligent I am at caring for my health, the better I feel.
The second – and equally vital - component of feeling my best is keeping my mind in good shape. Since I tend to live in my head, I find my thoughts are commonly a barrier to accomplishing what I want to do. Sometimes my body seems to go one way and my mind another! Fortunately, I have discovered something that helps me keep both body and mind in more harmonious coexistence: The practice of yoga.
Simply defined, yoga is a collection of movements which stretch the entire body, leading to increased flexibility and strength. Through practice of the poses, the mind is released from outward distraction as concentration is focused inward on the physical effort required of the poses. Thus yoga forges a connection between the body and the mind. Repeating the poses reinforces this mind-body connection, so that over time the two communicate with increasing ease.
It is an absolutely liberating experience to become so engrossed in a pose that you forget to worry or ruminate or plan! Yoga teaches the skill of living in the moment, which is a healthy thing for someone who prides herself on being the ‘Planner Extraordinaire!’ It’s a great way to find balance in my life between the me who “does” and the me who “is.”
The most valuable aspect of yoga for me is that it is a process – or journey. There is no competition; no winning or losing. It is strictly between me and my body. The point is that you practice the pose not that you achieve the pose. The point is the striving toward and releasing yourself – body and mind – into the pose. With each attempt, your body gives in more freely and with increased confidence. The only things to master are the physical and mental connections within yourself.
Many people consider that connection of the physical and mental a spiritual experience. For me there’s no better way of creating, celebrating and nurturing my inner and outer strength and vitality. Neither my body or mind can be strong if they aren’t working in unison.
Yoga teacher and founder of Iyengar Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar, had this to say about the benefits of yoga, “Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.”
Could yoga be a way for you to conquer stress in your mind and body?