YOGA FOR A LONG AND HEALTHY LIFE

Do you want to live a long, healthy life, reduce your risk for disease, keep your mind sharp and prevent injury? Great!   The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion wants this too. They created the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, providing recommendations for these five areas: aerobic activity, muscular strength, bone strength, balance and flexibility. These guidelines are online, so be sure to check them out if you are in pursuit of a long and healthy life.

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SHORT YOGA PRACTICES TO TRY ANYWHERE

The holiday season inevitably brings joy, stress, and many things in between. This article offers suggestions for using yogic practices to enhance your season and everyday life in just a few moments.  Four of the eight limbs of yoga are asana (body exercises), pranayama (breathing exercises), pratyahara (restraint of senses), and dharana (direction of mind). For a rough translation, we will refer to the last two as mindfulness in this article.

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YOGA AND THE MIND

Well-being is a multi-faceted topic that varies widely in definition and attainment. It is something individuals and communities strive to attain with varying degrees of success. The things most challenging in life are often the most worth pursuing. In Kentucky, there is a real need for attention in the arena of well-being.   Serious mental illness in the Bluegrass state is significantly more common than the national average, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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YOGA AND THE MIND

and sustain that direction without any distractions” (sutra 1.2). Yoga practice is commonly associated with yoga classes and physical exercises, but “the practice of yoga must reduce both physical and mental impurities. It must develop our capacity for self-examination and help us to understand that, in the final analysis, we are not the masters of everything we do” (sutra 2.1).


According to this text, interruptions to mental clarity produce tangible symptoms. Specifically, there are nine types of interruptions to developing mental clarity: illness, mental stagnation, doubts, lack of foresight, fatigue, overindulgence, illusions about one’s true state of mind, lack of perseverance and regression. “They are obstacles because they create mental disturbances and encourage distractions” (sutra 1.31). These interruptions produce one or more of the following symptoms: mental discomfort, negative thinking, the inability to be at ease in different body postures and difficulty in controlling one’s breath (sutra 1.31). How do you experience these interruptions and symptoms in your life?


Means of steadying the mind to halt interruptions and, consequently, symptoms are offered:    

  1. Breathing exercises involving extended exhalation (sutra 1.34)
  2. Inquiry into the roles of the senses (sutra 1.35)
  3. Inquiry into what life is and what keeps us alive (sutra 1.36)
  4. Counsel from someone who has mastered similar problems  (sutra 1.37)
  5. Inquiry into dreams and sleep and experiences around these states (sutra 1.38)
  6. Any inquiry of interest (sutra 1.39)


Daily Life

Each person is unique. We all have different needs and preferences. It is important to determine how to attain your optimal well-being and also support others as they seek well-being.


We’ve looked at tools for addressing mental health from a yogic perspective. Modern health institutions also provide tips for maintaining mental health. Here are a just few that align with the yogic wisdom shared above:



How do the items above cultivate your well-being? What else aids your pursuit of an optimal lifestyle that isn’t listed above? Are there any changes you can make in your life to be even more well? How can you support others in their own pursuits of well-being? Can we all strive for well-being together?


Sources and Resources:


LAUREN WEAVER, RYT 200

Lauren Weaver is a Yogi, Yoga Instructor, and Assistant Instructor with the Yoga Teacher Training Program at Lexington Healing Arts Academy. She can be reached via email at Lauren.mw32@ gmail.com.

more articles by Lauren Weaver

Well-being is a multi-faceted topic that varies widely in definition and attainment. It is something individuals and communities strive to attain with varying degrees of success. The things most challenging in life are often the most worth pursuing. In Kentucky, there is a real need for attention in the arena of well-being.


Serious mental illness in the Bluegrass state is significantly more common than the national average, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Kentucky also exhibits the absolute lowest levels of exercise in the nation, according to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. Studies continue to demonstrate again and again a connection between exercise and mental health. With the contributions it gives to both physical and mental health, yoga is an increasingly rewarding option.


Yogic Wisdom

There is a lot of information out there right now surrounding yoga, which isn’t crazy considering there have been numerous spin-offs of yoga throughout history. Let’s turn directly to an authoritative text on yoga dating back to 400 C.E. – the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali – to see what insights it might provide on mental well-being.


We will focus on a few sections about the mind since yoga is defined as “the ability to direct the mind exclusively toward an object