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Bending and stretching quantified.

If you have been checking out the Instagram feed over the last week you might have noticed that I’ve been off Yoga-ing up. The last post gave you a bit of a wrap up of all the awesome folks I met at Wanderlust and today I spent the afternoon at Yogafest (which is still happening all weekend if you are a Sunny Coaster). Peppermint mag asked me to do a bit of a summary of Wanderlust over on their blog space (will share when it goes live) so I’m all out of poetics for now. However, I thought it might be nice to share with you an awesome resource about yoga that I came across at the Wanderlust festival.

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Yoga makes you feel great.

Anyone who’s done yoga long enough to get past the initial ‘eh….my….geeeerrrdddd..why so many down dogs!!!’ thoughts and feelings would probably agree that it’s easy to see why  people across the World have practiced yoga for 10,000 years. It really does make you feel good. Unlike most other exercises, the union of breath and body and the (usually) slow and gentle but strong moments allows your joints and muscles to ease into the work. The stretching and strengthening occurs in such a way that you are ‘opened up’ and ‘pulled out’ as you soften into relaxation at the end of class (kind of the opposite of attending a HIIT class which is why they compliment each other so well). I scored a copy of Happi Yoga magazine at the Wanderlust festival in a goodie bag and fell head-over-heels in love with their spread on ‘before and after’ yoga shots. When you attend yoga you take that time just for you. It’s to relax, breathe, reflect, and stretch your body and soul. Some poses allow the circulatory system to relax as your head rests below your heart. Some flush fresh blood supplies to the face. You always leave class feeling like you look refreshed. This article shows it!

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The Science Behind Yoga.

On day two of the Wanderlust festival we sat down in the TOMS True North Cafe to watch The Science Behind Yoga, a short film produced by UPLIFT that is  available for you to watch for free online. While watching it from home might not be as atmospheric as watching it in a hammock and cushion filled dome in a beachside field with hundreds of other yogis, the content remains the same. Obviously this is a documentary that was designed to shine a positive light on yoga (they aren’t going to bring in a bunch of experts who think yoga sucks) and your critical thought processes should enable you to watch it with your own reservations . However the film does consult a bunch of Dr types who share that:

  • Yoga works on the physical body, aids in self-regulation and helps cultivate a mind-body awareness. This all aids in increasing mindfulness which can help cultivation of mind-body awareness and and increase in mindfulness.
  • The increase in mindfulness aids in behavioural change and enables us to experience deeper state of being.
  • Those who practice yoga may be swayed towards more positive pursuits in life.
  • The self regulation yoga practice teaches allows for better control and regulation of emotions and enables for identification of the effects of emotions in the mind and body.
  • Studies into the effects of yoga practice showed a 33% reduction in depression in participants, an increase in resilience, and an increase in the frequency of positive events.
  • Breathing full and deep yogic breaths can help reduce blood pressure and in turn reducing stress.
  • The more control we have of our conscious mind the more power we have in our minds and our lives to control how we connect with our body and the world through our nervous system. The mind is the ultimate control of our health. Only 1% of health is related to genes 90% is related to stress. Stress comes from the mind.

Much of the power of yoga comes from the idea of making space for ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I heard ‘I don’t have time to do things for myself’ over and over again from my friends, family, and those who I meet on an (almost) daily basis. In our sleep-macho, always-tech-connected, and time poor society we seem to think that not having time for ourselves makes us better human beings (like being busy means that we are working hard or being a devoted parent) when truthfully not making time for yourself is selfish. When you choose to put your needs aside and try to serve others all you are really doing is wearing yourself and giving from a depleted energy bank. Want to hear the cold hard truth? No one wants to spend time listening to their friends go on and on about how busy they are at work or how they spend 14 hours straight tending to their kids. It’s boring and we aren’t impressed and you are selfishly using your friendships as a way to offload your problems that result from an inability to be responsible for your own wellbeing (BAM… a truth bullet right there). Do something that fills YOU up. Yoga is a socially acceptable way to spend an hour in the dark wearing leggings and not talking to anyone. If you spent one hour in a dark closet at your house wearing track-pants it’s likely your family will think you have gone crazy or  you will feel guilty that you hid so well from your kids in hide and seek that you won’t feel relaxed at all. You know what else is cool? If you spend time doing something for you, you suddenly have a little more energy and something to talk about over a cuppa with your mates that positive, interesting and not-at-all whingey.

Do you do yoga? Perhaps you hate it? Had a weird class? Got a fave teacher? Share all below.

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