By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
The combination of a regular Yoga practice, with the incorporation of positive psychology principles, can have a profoundly uplifting effect on a Yoga practitioner. Many of us struggle with low self-esteem, self-doubt, anxiety, and even a significant amount of depression. Positive psychologists approach a sense of malaise and mental duress from a positive perspective. Instead of focusing on the cause of anxiety, low self-esteem, and even mental illness, positive psychologists focus on each individual’s personal talents, skills, aptitudes and intelligence. By focusing on an individual’s strengths, these strengths will grow, along with a stronger sense of self-worth and overall competency.
The practice of Yoga asanas, relaxation techniques, pranayama exercises, and meditation techniques offer a Yoga practitioner a wide range tools that, if practiced regularly, will cultivate an overall sense of well-being. A regular practice of Yoga will increase a practitioner’s sense of physical well-being, as well as lower levels of anxiety and calm the mind.
As the mind calms, the body’s biochemistry begins to re-balance in a more optimal fashion. Although most people take breathing for granted; pranayama exercises (Yogic breathing techniques) are some of the most powerful tools Yoga offers us to help lower stress and anxiety levels. As your stress and anxiety levels decrease, your overall sense of well-being will increase. Practicing Yoga postures, regularly, will also increase your sense of accomplishment, physical well-being, and self-esteem.
An often overlooked aspect of practicing Yoga, regularly, with a group of dedicated spiritual seekers, is the positive group affiliation that practicing with the same group of Yoga practitioners provides. This is one of the primary “pillars” of positive psychology: positive group affiliation. Most Yoga studios offer a degree of social interaction and community, or environmental activism opportunities, to their Yoga students.
For example, there may be a potluck dinner and a kirtan on Friday evenings, which would give you a chance to mingle with other Yoga students and engage in an uplifting activity. Also, there may be a volunteer workday scheduled to help your community plant flowers in the town square. On the outside looking in, it may appear that you are giving of your time and energy, but your heart and mind will be uplifted through the positive energy cultivated by your generous actions, as well as the new friendships you will begin to form.
Positive groups, social activities, and affiliations, have a cumulative effect on one’s holistic health profile. One’s mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health, are not just separate parts. Our state of health can be enhanced through the cultivation of positive energy, which Yoga offers.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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