By Ivona Tomljanovic
We live in a world that is constantly changing, but sometimes at a speed that we can’t catch up to. Or can we?!
Picture this: What will happen if a driver fuels its car with the wrong fuel? Or if they drive their car so fast and above the limits of the engine? Eventually, the driver will probably need to replace some parts of the car, the engine, or maybe even buy a new one.
Now imagine that you are both a driver (mind) and a car (body). Your mind starts to fuel the body with fast food, lots of coffee and less sleep, stress without rest, more sitting than moving, and too much screen time. Days become weeks, weeks become months and … you get the point. In this mind-body ride, we can only survive if we learn how to control and care for both our minds and bodies.
Our immune systems are often in distress
In this modern world, we’re often living in states of chronic stress or chronic activation of our sympathetic nervous systems. With time, these chronic states can cause high blood pressure, high heart rates or kidney issues. Our sympathetic nervous system stimulates (often unconsciously) our body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. In this state, our heart rate and blood pressure increase, and our digestion decreases. This is an ideal state if were faced with great physical danger, like running from a bear, but if we’re in that state every day because of our stressful job, packed schedules, or living life at full speed, we’re eventually going to deplete our whole system.
How can we stop this cycle of stress on our body?
This is where yoga, meditation and mindfulness come into play. By repetition of these things, we’re developing a strong and flexible body that is free of pain along with a calm, clear mind. We need to start implementing practices that reduce chronic stress, chronic pain, and overstimulation of our sympathetic nervous system. A regular practise like yoga and mindfulness is perfect for doing just that. Additionally, yoga movements like twisting, putting our heads down, putting our legs up, and other postures that we don’t usually do in our normal everyday activities (like shoulder stands, headstands, downward dog, etc) are important for stimulating our lymphatic system, helping to keep us strong and healthy. We want to keep the lymphatic system moving and in good health because then it can alter our immune cells if there’s a problem and move lymph faster to the liver for detoxification. A great way to start stimulating this is with yoga asanas (body postures) combined with mindful breathing.
Why is proper breathing so important? When we’re taking a deep breath, we’re making sure that the lungs are full of oxygen and maximizing our oxygen intake, which leads to better production of energy in our tissues. More energy means less need for different, mainly unhealthy stimulants I’ve mentioned earlier. Most of the time, we’re not breathing that way. That’s why is so important to improve efficiency of our breathing and include different breathing techniques in our everyday schedule.
Find a style of yoga and a yoga schedule that works for you
So, start moving today. I can write so much about the healthy benefits of yoga and meditation, but the best thing I can recommend is to start practicing and see what happens! Starting your morning with just a 5-minute meditation practice and 15 minutes of yoga can change your day drastically. There are various styles of yoga, and you surely can find one that suits you. From vigorous and powerful yoga practices, like Ashtanga vinyasa yoga, to restorative and more calming, like Restorative yoga or Yin yoga.
With yoga and meditation, we can feel so much better in our body and mind, and these practices are not just going to lengthen your to-do list, but rather they’ll help you to tackle it! These practices will help you to make space for the important things in your life and make you more conscious about your time. And you’ll just start flowing at your own speed. Maybe we could catch up with the seemingly messy and crazy culture we find ourselves in, but the question is: Do we really want that? And what is best for us in the long-run.
About the author, Ivona Tomljanovic
Ivona finds her passion in yoga philosophy. She believes that with consistent practices like yoga, meditation and mindful living we can be so much happier on this planet. A chemical engineer by profession, she strives to live sustainably and minimalistically and is also a vegetarian. She hopes to one day work for a company that prioritizes sustainable products and environmental protection.