“Where does the mind end and the spirit begin? Where does the mind end and the spirit begin? They cannot be divided, as they are interrelated and but diffferent aspects of the same all-pervading divine consciousness.”
~ B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga
As human beings, we exist on physical, mental, and spiritual planes. These aspects of ourselves are interconnected and affected by each other. Recognizing the importance of the mind-body-spirit connection can help us look at our health in a more holistic way and apply new methods of approaching our overall wellbeing. Through the Eight Limb Path, yoga addresses all three aspects of ourselves, and has become a powerful tool for people looking to integrate the mind-body-spirit connection into their lives.
The ancient Yogic practice of uniting the mind, body and spirit goes beyond mere physical health or wellness—it begins the journey to a much greater sense of harmony and balance. Through this time-honored practice, we can start to reconnect these three aspects of ourselves, and experience the benefits of holistic health. In this post we will explore the importance of the mind-body-spirit connection, and look at how Yogic practices can be used to achieve greater harmony and health.
The first of these three aspects is the powerful, complex mind. Many of us allow our minds to become chronically untamed, and as a result, our thoughts and emotions rule the way we navigate life. Yoga encourages us to pay attention to our thoughts and to recognize them as separate from ourselves. Through meditation, we learn to let go of ruminating thoughts and engrained thinking patterns that hold us back in life. Yoga helps quiet the mental chatter that causes us to miss out on what is happening in the present moment.
Yoga offers us a chance to take a moment and pause, allowing us to get in tune with our inner space and higher selves. Through yoga we can slow down and focus on what resides deep inside of us, granting us permission to observe our most intimate feelings, pains, desires. As we come back to this present moment, yoga brings clarity and insights into how our mind works, empowering us towards a peaceful existence. With a clearer, more present-based mind, we can be more in tune with our bodies, and with our connection to our higher selves and our Divine source of connection.
According to yogic philosophy, there is a deep connection between the mind and body, and each affects the other. The practice of yoga is based on this fundamental principle and aims to restore harmony and balance between the two.
Through the physical postures and breathwork, yoga helps to release tension and stress from the body, which in turn promotes relaxation and clarity of mind. By cultivating awareness of the body and breath, we are able to develop greater self-awareness and understanding of our physical states.
Our busy lives often cause us to put our physical wellbeing on the back burner. We neglect our body due to busyness or lack of motivation, or don’t pay enough attention to the messages it sends us in the form of symptoms.
This is the disconnect that yoga seeks to restore. Yoga helps us bring our focus inward and detach from external things that distract us from ourselves and our needs. It also helps us bring subconscious responses into our conscious awareness, as we learn to pay attention to how we react, both physically and mentally, to the challenges we encounter in asana, and in our daily lives. Yoga encourages us to explore and heed the signals our body gives us, and to use the wisdom and healing power it holds.
One of the main benefits of yoga is that it helps to reduce stress. Stress is a normal part of life, but it can have a negative impact on our physical and mental health. When we are stressed, our bodies release hormones that lead to anxiety, high blood pressure, insomnia, and a multitude of other ailments. Yoga helps to counter the effects of stress by promoting relaxation and mindfulness. By focusing on your breath as you move through poses, you can begin to tap into states of relaxation that are more difficult to access during the rest of our day.
The spiritual aspect of ourselves is often disregarded in our society or, at the very least, thought of as the least important of the mind-body-spirit connection. This could not be farther from the truth, and many would argue that our connection to spirituality is the most important aspect of ourselves. Spirituality plays a role in holistic health and our enjoyment of life. A connection to something higher than ourselves gives meaning to our lives and provides guidance in the situations we encounter. It is our anchor, a constant thing we can turn to for stability and peace in an often unstable and unpeaceful world.
Yoga’s inward focus helps us to develop and maintain a connection with our higher power and purpose. The final limb on the Eight Limb Path of Yoga is samadhi, or oneness with the Divine, and the previous seven limbs are all about setting ourselves up to receive this connection. Our practice can enable us to tap into sacred energies that can improve our lives from the inside out, and open our minds to new perspectives toward our experiences.
The Mind-Body-Spirit Connection
Understanding the mind-body-spirit connection can help us be more in tune with how they affect each other. Armed with that information, we can make conscious choices to help ourselves. Here’s a personal example: My mind starts thinking about a challenging situation in my life, and I spend hours allowing myself to ruminate over it and picturing it turning out badly.
Before long, the chaos of my mind begins to manifest in physical anxiety symptoms. When this happens, I can recognize that my shaking hands and shallowed breath are a direct result of my state of mind, and I can address it from this perspective, rather than ignoring the signals by body is giving me to get out of my head.
Although yoga has been around since ancient times, it continues to offer invaluable insight into finding alignment within ourselves, as well as the wholeness that comes from balancing our multi-dimensional needs. Whether young or old, a beginner or a seasoned practitioner, yoga presents a unique opportunity to disconnect from external stresses and focus on one’s internal self. Through breathing techniques, poses, and meditation, yoga taps into the mind-body-spirit connection, helping us find balance and equilibrium.
By connecting the physical, mental, and spiritual planes of our existence, we can create a foundation that works to promote our overall health and wellbeing. This balance helps us to achieve harmony with ourselves, others, and the world around us. We can take active steps toward living healthier, more balanced lives by engaging in practices such as yoga. Yoga can help us learn about the ways our minds, bodies, and spiritual beings are interconnected, and teach us to pay attention to the way they affect each other.
At Inspiring Actions, we are your resource to help foster the mind-body-spirit connection within yourself. Our classes, events and workshops are designed to bring the benefits of yoga to people seeking to balance these three elements, and to bring peace, clarity, and community into their lives. Our studios in Hudson and River Falls, Wisconsin offer a welcoming space for yogis of all levels to experience unity in mind, body and soul; check out our full class list here, as well as our list of upcoming events!