In these crazy unpredictable times, it can be so hard to maintain our normal sense of Self. We feel uncertain, scared, isolated, and alone. It’s easy to lose our way and start to think negative thoughts. This ends up becoming a rabbit hole of depression, anxiety, and fear.
There is a way out of this cycle of negative thinking, maintain sanity, and (even better!) it won’t cost a dime.
Yoga can help in 3 different ways. It can help stop negative thinking by purifying the mind, create a sense of the interconnectedness of mind and body, and relieve built-up stress and tension in the body.
Here are the 3 ways yoga can help maintain sanity when life feels (and quite literally, is!) insane.
1. Purifying the mind
What is Purifying the Mind?
Purifying the mind is a lot like what it sounds like: it’s a way to recognize your thoughts as negative or unhelpful, and stop them in their tracks before they can cause that familiar feeling of pain, fear, loss, and negativity.
Arguably, this is the ultimate goal of Yoga. The ability to recognize one’s thoughts and be aware of them enough to guide them on a better path. By no means does it mean you’ll never have negative thoughts, it’s just a way of retraining your mind to take those negative thoughts and put them on a better path.
Basically, our brains get trained through a behavior/reward system. When we do something that brings pleasure, avoids pain, or when we engage positive thinking, we get a sweet little release of dopamine which makes us feel good and seek to repeat the behavior. Our brains love this! But, the opposite can also happen.
When we’re constantly allowing toxic negative thinking to be more than , we get a chronic release of neurochemicals like adrenaline and catecholamines. The constant chronic release of these (and other chemicals) has been linked to chronic disease, depression, and an overall decline in health and wellbeing. But worse, we get stuck in this pattern. Like a bad habit, our brains get trained to keep thinking negative thoughts and continue down this spiral.
By learning how to control your thoughts and recognize them as toxic you can stop this pattern and begin to, literally, feel better.
2. A Sense of Interconnectedness
It’s easy to get off the path of feeling connected to something bigger than yourself. Most of us get so busy or overwhelmed with our own problems that we forget to remember there’s a greater power in the Universe. You can call this “power” God, or really whatever you want, but we all know in our core being that it’s there.
Yoga incorporates breathing and physical movements to create a meditative state. The best yoga practices I’ve ever had are when I realized later I’d completely focused on my breathing as I moved through the Vinyasas and was able to find my “center.” By this, I mean, the most high feeling of being connected to something greater than myself. And even more, connected to the other humans around me.
This feeling of connectedness helps us feel less lonely because we know we’re not alone in this vast universe, but also more connected to other humans as we realize we are all the same. Maybe we have different lives, opinions, religions, whatever, but at our Core, we’re all just tiny people struggling to get through this crazy world.
3. Relieve Stress and Tension in the Body
Your body can build up stress and tension and hold it in places like our lower back, large muscle groups like our quads, and joints. Most of us don’t realize how this can make us feel until it’s gone. The build up of muscle and joint tension is a slow and steady process that comes from stress, negative energy, and inactivity.
The rhythm and poses of yoga, really any form of it, helps this built up tension release and exit our bodies. Regular yoga (or other exercise) is the only way to work on these areas and release the tension.
Many yoga poses target the places stress and tension can build up, mainly through hip openers, and spine and back stretches. But they also add in large muscle group activity focusing on quadriceps and gluts.
In this crazy stressed out world, it’s easy to get caught up in the spiral of negativity and insanity. Everyone around you is feeling the same way. But, there’s a way out of this feeling (even when things truly are insane!), and yoga can help.
It helps by creating a focus to purify your mind of negative thoughts and train it to think positive thoughts, finding a sense of interconnectedness with a higher power in the universe as well as other humans, and engaging in the physical practice of yoga to relieve stress in muscles and joints.
You’ll find that you can have peace and sanity, even when life seems so overwhelming and stressful.