The Energetic Effects of Yoga
Many people enjoy the physical as well as mental benefits of exercise and an increasing number of people are incorporating yoga into their exercise lives. In addition to getting a good sweat, stretch and pump, yoga usually incorporates mindfulness as an important part of the practice. A mindfulness-based yogic practice can provide a wide variety of benefits including greater self-awareness, more powerful and centered intention, increased energy and vitality, and the overall development of consciousness.
While each yoga lineage is different, in general yoga is based upon the observation that the mind and body are both real and that they affect each other in measurable and predictable ways. Taking it a step further, yoga treats the invisible side of the equation, the mind, as equally real and important as the visible side, the body. This emphasis on something intangible is understandably foreign to many Western practitioners. It may seem unscientific.
In fact, yoga principles are based upon thousands of years of observation and practical study. Individuals who have participated in athletic activity will have, at some point, observed for themselves the interplay of mind and body. The mind can affect the function and performance of the body in powerful ways. This is perhaps why many athletes are among the most open and appreciative practitioners of yoga.
Many yoga practices describe the relationship between mind and body by speaking in terms of energy. Energy is simply defined as the connection between intangible mind and the tangible b ody. Within the physical body energy flows and gathers. The energy system in the physical body is made up of chakras (energy centers, like organs), meridians (energy channels, like blood vessels), and energy points (think of acupressure massage or acupuncture).
Diligent yoga practitioners will often develop a heightened sense of their own energy system. They begin to feel the energetic effects of posture, breathing and diet. Practitioners may even become aware of how thoughts and emotions affect their physical bodies. Certain emotions can be draining and irritating to the body; others can be restorative. As a result, yoga practitioners can apply their passion for self-development to their emotional and mental well-being as well as to their physical well-being.
Many classes exist to combine movement and mindfulness for the purpose of balancing or revitalizing the energy system. There is no prerequisite set of beliefs necessary to do yoga. All that is required is an openness and awareness of the power of the human mind and a little curiosity.
David Driscoll is head instructor at Body & Brain Yoga located at 235 Harvard St., Brookline. Additional locations are in Arlington, Cambridge and Riverwalk. B&B is a Korean style of energy yoga designed to provide physical, emotional and spiritual benefits to practitioners of all ages and conditions. For more information, visit BodyNBrain.com.