This is a F.R.Y. Wednesday Wellness Wisdom posts about Yoga and Mental Wellness. You can also see them on our Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn) in case you missed them.

F.R.Y. Wednesday Wellness Wisdom

Restraints (Yamas) towards a compassionate life - Yoga and Mental Wellness

20211117 – F.R.Y. Wednesday Wellness Wisdom

How Yoga Helps Mental Wellness #1 – “Restraints”(Yamas) towards a compassionate life

Yoga is more than movement. People think “yoga” is bendy twisty poses. Poses are but one of EIGHT “limbs” of yoga that form the essence of how yoga increases mental wellness.

One limb is “Restraints”(Yamas) towards a compassionate life, meaning to hold to non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, and control of sexual energy.

Paying attention to these restraints can bring peace and calm within us.

Set a positive intention each morning for each of these restraints as a step on the road to mental wellness.

20211124 – F.R.Y. Wednesday Wellness Wisdom

How Yoga Helps Mental Wellness #2 – Habits or Observances for a Healthy and Happy Life (Niyama)

Remember, yoga is more than movement. Another of the 8 limbs of yoga is “Cultivating habits or observances for a healthy and happy life – Niyamas”: internal and external cleanliness, practicing contentment, self-control, feeding our mind with uplifting studies, and surrendering the ego.

Set goals and time for ourselves to nourish our minds. Pause and think of something everyday for which we are grateful. It can be as simple as that ideal parking spot, the warmth of the sun, or even that first sip of coffee.

20211201 – F.R.Y. Wednesday Wellness Wisdom

How Yoga Helps Mental Wellness #3 – Breathwork (Pranayama)

Breath is life. It affects our energy, and consequently our quality of life.  A controlled breath calms an uprising of emotional energy that may occur in life. Are you a chest breather or a belly breather?  As adults, we forget how to breathe. Watch a baby breathe. Their bellies rise and fall with each breath.

Deep abdominal breathing encourages a complete oxygen exchange: all of the outgoing carbon dioxide is traded for incoming oxygen. It slows the heart rate and manages blood pressure. Did you know that one of the reasons massages feel so good is because it causes old blood to flow out of the muscles, allowing fresh blood to flow in? When we belly breathe, the diaphragm naturally lowers into the abdominal organs. When inhaling, the diaphragm pushes on the spleen, pancreas, liver, and stomach, and these organs in turn push on all our other organs. When we exhale the pressure is then released, until the pattern repeats again. Whenever we practice deep abdominal breathing we give our organs a much needed massage, allowing them to be filled with the fresh blood supply to function their best, and increasing our overall wellness.

Practice abdominal breathing. Place a hand on your belly at your navel point. As you inhale, press the belly into your hand.  As you exhale, pull the belly in towards your spine. Take care not to slouch as you exhale.

Withdrawal of the senses (Pratyahara) - Yoga and Mental Wellness

20211228 – F.R.Y. Wednesday Wellness Wisdom

How Yoga Helps Mental Wellness #4 – “Withdrawal from the senses (Pratyahara)”

We are often limited by our habits, tendencies, impulses and weaknesses. We let our senses over-influence ourselves, generating a reaction.

This yoga element suggests we acknowledge yet distance ourselves from the over-stimulation of the world around us.

How?

Pause and give time to relax the body and mind.

Try taking a few minutes to “talk” your body into relaxation. Maintain rhythmic abdominal breathing and repeat the following in your mind:

– “I relax my toes. I relax my toes. My toes are relaxed.”

– Repeat for all body parts: feet, ankles, calves, knees, thighs, buttocks, hips, abdomen, abdominal organs, low back, mid-back, upper back, chest, heart, shoulders, arms, elbows, hands, fingers, neck, mouth, eyes, and face

– Close with “I relax my mind. I relax my mind. My mind is relaxed.”

Concentration (Dharana)  - Yoga and Mental Wellness

20220119 – F.R.Y. Wednesday Wellness Wisdom

How Yoga Helps Mental Wellness #5 – Concentration (Dharana)

Concentration (Dharana), another of the 8 limbs of yoga, or steady focus binds the mind to one place, idea or object. It calms the “busy-ness” of the mind and permits you to focus and be present. It overcomes the “monkey-mind”, where the mind swings from one thought to another as a monkey swings from tree to tree. As a First Responder you can see the benefit of a calm concentrating mind.

Practice calming the mind. Acknowledge each thought, image, memory that arises but take control by mentally placing it in a filing cabinet that will only open when you are done with focusing on the present situation.

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