The Mind-Body Connection

 Namaste Nova. Photo cred: Tamara Cox

Namaste Nova. Photo cred: Tamara Cox

Happy June my fellow health nuts!

I am feeling very grateful this week as I was lucky to bring in this month at a Yoga Retreat, put on by the wonderful Michelle of yogabeyondthebody.com. We gathered at Namaste Nova, about 45 minutes outside of Halifax, and what a beautiful and peaceful place! Check it out if you are interested in doing a wellness retreat. They are known for Body Talk, a holistic therapy working with animals, and also offer weekly yoga classes in their yurt...yes a yurt! 

The Mind-Body Connection

I see many patients who are always on the go, who suffer from insomnia, who hold tension somewhere in their body, and so on, so I tend to always stress the importance of the mind-body connection. It is inevitable that our bodies will suffer in some way if we continue to live in the "fight or flight" portion of your nervous system, instead of the "rest and digest" portion. For that reason one of my "at home remedies" I suggest to patients is of course yoga. What a wonderful holistic form of medicine

I sometimes forget how good yoga makes me feel – physically, mentally and spiritually. That is exactly what I felt after my yoga retreat. As Michelle taught us, there are different forms of yoga - not only moving our body, but using mantras or working through exercises to better understand ourselves. Since it does such good things for me, I wanted to remind you of some of the many benefits of practicing yoga. Whether you are young or old, male or female, flexible or not, it has similar benefits for everyone.

Meditation – One of the best ways to calm your mind, reflect and bring your body into parasympathetic mode (“rest and digest”) is through meditation. It can simply be conscious breathing. Like most, my mind tends to wander, so bringing my attention back to my breathe is helpful. This is especially helpful after a busy and stressful day. Stress can create tension in our bodies, and breathing helps us relieve that tension. I suggest taking time for 10 deep breaths during the day, at yoga, or when lying in bed at night. Meditation and breathing is such a simple tool, yet so powerful.

Flexibility – Sitting at a desk all day, exercising in one position (eg. biking), and stress are all reasons why our bodies may be in contracture. This can lead to poor posture and injuries. Improving flexibility by stretching will lengthen muscles, relieve tension (both physically and mentally), and reduce the likelihood of injuries. So whether you can do the wheel, or a simple hamstring stretch, your body will benefit. You'd be surprised what a slow moving Yin class can bring up and release...I know I was! 

Balance – Back in my ballet days, balance came much easier to me. However, over the years of sitting in classes and getting sucked into reality TV, I wobble slightly more than I would like. Yoga is a great way to increase balance with several poses such as tree or half moon. Balance becomes even more important as you age, to prevents falls and more harmful injuries.

There are many more mental and spiritual benefits of yoga that you can explore and will come to love.

For whatever your reason, step on that mat and thank yourself for practising. I believe you will be better for it! 

In health & happiness, 

Dr. Karen