Improve your mind-body connection with yoga
4/10/2023 by Marisa Kadlec
As a society, we spend more time on our phones or electronic devices than at any other time in history. This sedentary lifestyle is taking an enormous toll on our physical health and mental well-being. Therefore, we must find activities that allow us to disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with our minds and body. Practicing yoga is an excellent way to make this mind-body connection. The health benefits of yoga are numerous, yet many people are unfamiliar with yoga practice and how practicing yoga helps to improve your health.
What is yoga?
In the most straightforward definition, yoga is a lifestyle practice that improves your mind-body connection through various postures and poses while focusing on your breathing (pranayama). There are many types of yoga practices one can explore:
- A vinyasa flow is the most popular type of yoga, focusing on the breath (pranayama) to calm the mind and focus on physical movement.
- Yin yoga practice focuses on holding your poses for up to five minutes to find a deep stretch, releasing stress and attachment, and concentrating on breathing (pranayama).
- Many other variations of yoga practice are also available today.
As a yoga instructor, I guide my students through a series of movements to help each student improve strength, flexibility, balance and endurance. Classes typically last 45-60 minutes, but also can be as short as 20 minutes. Students should plan to attend a class at least three to four times weekly to maintain their strength, balance, flexibility and endurance.
One major advantage yoga has over other forms of exercise is that nearly everyone can participate in yoga practice. It does not matter if you are young or old, if you are overweight or out of shape, you can participate in yoga. Even if you are in excellent health, you still can benefit from practicing yoga. The key ingredient of the practice is always a mind-body connection made through poses and breathing, leading to improved strength, flexibility, balance and endurance. Additionally, the gentle movement and meditation of yoga can help to improve your mental health.
I would encourage anyone who has not previously attended a yoga class to give it a try. You can check the Yoga Alliance website to find a list of certified yoga instructors in your area. Be sure to consult with your health care professional before starting any exercise routine to ensure that you do not have any health issues preventing you from participating in a yoga class.
Marisa Kadlec, lead group fitness instructor and RYT 200 yoga instructor, Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.