This morning I went back to my Sivananda practice after several weeks of hot Bikram yoga. There’s no doubt that my body felt more stretched and limber than previously and it didn’t feel as if I was starting out cold. Almost as if all those days of practising at 40 degree temperatures has softened the muscles over the longer term! Which is good. However, I did find the headstand tough and realised it doesn’t take long for techniques and habits to be undone too. So, a balance of the two would seem good for me.
And it made me wonder about how the balance of my mind had shifted too.
The purpose of yoga is to improve the flexibility and strength of the body in order to flex and strengthen the mind. When stretching, the key is to relax into it and let the stretch happen rather than push it. When you push too hard, the body resists and goes against you. With the mind, similar processes come into play. Too much pressure can have an adverse effect, and drive you away from the goal you are seeking to achieve. Relaxing, accepting, opening up – all passive actions (though no less challenging!) are the states that bring the insights, inspiration and focus to move you to the next level.
Yoga teaches that it’s far easier to take control of the body than it is to take control of the mind. Disciplining the body, and adopting a healthy lifestyle (without excessive alcohol and stimulants!) allows you to connect with the mind and accept it rather than running away from it, using various substances to numb it or spark it!
Working in creativity, I know absolutely that stretching the mind brings just as good rewards as stretching the body. Moving beyond our comfort zone psychologically is what allows us to move forward in life, to be self-aware, to apply this to our work and relationships, to set and achieve goals, to meet new challenges and embrace change.
Stretching and moving they body ensures that we perform at peak mentally too. And of course the relaxation that comes after exercising is so much more profound and recharging than a cup of coffee or glass of wine. It’s often during that profound relaxation, mentally and physically, that the best ideas come. Many of my ideas come during meditation or on a long run.
Just think if all our businesses recognised the body/mind connection and invested in developing the two together.
The results – better esteem, more energy, sustained resilience and peak performance. Routinely.