November 13, 2012

Yoga, Breathing and Meditation

 

I recently learned how much my body appreciates my new exercise supplement: PiYo. For years, I resisted yoga or anything close to it. Honestly, I thought it was for sissies.

I'd take my boot camp, booty-burning, total body conditioning, kill-me-now-because-I'm-about-to-die-I'm-so-tired workouts over that slow stuff all day, every day.

I think my problem had to do with not having the time to figure out what kind of low-impact meditative exercise was best for my body. That and the fact that ever since I graduated college (and stopped Baylor Cheer), my flexibility began to slowly disappear. After researching some new workouts on YouTube, I thought I'd give it another try.

Let's just say that after a few workouts that included these low-impact, stretching, meditative exercises, I've never been more sore. I also learned that it's best for me if I add yoga, Pilates or PiYo to my exercise routine rather than replacing one of my workouts.

In turn, I wanted to share the benefits that these exercises can bring to your body — especially for those of you who are resistant to it like I was.

Restore Your Insides

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2, NIV)

It's especially important to supplement your weight and cardio workouts with some form of yoga or Pilates (or a combination called PiYo), where you focus on breathing, stretching and body position. One of the biggest challenges to yoga is understanding the importance of deep breathing. Slow, deep breaths inhaled and exhaled deliver oxygen to all your different body parts, as well as ridding them of waste and toxins. It's kind've like getting a massage from the inside out.

These breathing exercises strengthen your respiratory system just like high intensity cardio does. More oxygen flows through your blood to your lungs and brain, thus increasing your body's overall functioning. Just like any other exercise principle, it's important to understand you must diversify your workouts to strengthen different muscles and work them in different ways. Slowing down and concentrating on holding a pose while breathing works your mind as much as it works your body.

Relieve Stress and Anxiety

"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts." (Psalm 123:39, NIV)

As your brain receives oxygen from the deep breathing involved in low impact stretching, yoga and/or PiYo, your nervous system relaxes, often giving you a sense of calm. When your body is relaxed from the inside out, you'll experience stress reduction and even emotional balance. Not only will you improve your physical body's balance, but you'll also experience a mental and emotional (and even spiritual) balance if you want to bad enough.

Meditating (or focusing) on bettering your body, mind and spirit is key. If you can learn to do that, you can reduce body fatigue and pain, while also improving your concentration, focus and attention.

Reinforce Harmony between Your Mind and Body

"Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind." (Philippians 2:2, NIV)

Although there are many variations of yoga breathing, they usually involve taking a deep breath through your stomach and then chest. Then, you release that breath slow and controlled through your mouth and down to your core. These breaths are much more controlled than the shallow panting breathing we often experience in our cardio/weight workouts.

Learning how to control your breathing whether you're standing up straight or in Reverse Pyramid Pose  can really help improve your self-control. If you can do that, your mind and body will be more at ease. When you're in tune with your body, you can identify how you're feeling. You can express your emotions because you can see truth in your spirit.

YouTube Channels I Subscribe To For Meditative Exercises:

Remember, there are a thousand little things you can do to improve your health. Don't get overwhelmed with how the media portrays being healthy or all the fad diets you "have" to do in order to lose weight and feel good. God created you in His image, perfectly. Get in tune with your body and figure out what you can do with it to glorify Him.

How do you feel about yoga, Pilates and PiYo? What other forms of mediation do you do get your mind and body in tune with God?

CC Photo by Jasmin Kaloudis on Flickr

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