Breathe, Bend, Blossom! 12 Benefits of Yoga & Meditation

Written by Michelle Merrifield

Life is filled with twists and turns, ups and downs and I suppose that’s what makes our lives all the more exciting, scary, heart breaking and yet so fulfilling and rewarding. At the end of the day we can only control how we react, how we feel and how we ourselves, view the world.

Circumstances will always be in flux as we physically can’t control anything…. the daily weather, your lover, not even your banker! With all my work in yoga and meditation, I still have to remind myself to sit down and just breathe.

The life of a yogi is fearless. We tackle challenges with courage, stretch our personal limitations with no expectations and continue to stay true to our personal core values no matter what the outcome. I have recently found myself facing my financial future and getting smart about how to plan for the unexpected. Being self-employed for eight years now with no retirement fund, health care, holidays, sick pays, superfunds... It’s up to me to take control of my destiny... a very scary yet inspiring concept to say the least. It has bought to my attention the very basis of control and how meditation and yoga has helped me in aligning my values, thoughts, and action. So…just breathe!

I have categorized the benefits of yoga and meditation into 12 physiological and psychological benefits.

Physiological Benefits:

  1. Deep rest-as measured by decreased metabolic rate, lower heart rate, and reduced workload of the heart.
  2. Lowered levels of cortisol and lactate - two chemicals associated with stress.
  3. Reduction of free radicals- unstable oxygen molecules that can cause tissue damage. Improved blood pressure.
  4. Higher skin resistance. Low skin resistance is correlated with higher stress and anxiety levels.
  5. Drop in cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular disease.
  6. Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing whilst slowing down the aging process.

Psychological Benefits:

  1. Increased brain wave coherence and greater creativity.
  2. Decreased anxiety and depression.
  3. Decreased irritability and moodiness.
  4. Improved learning ability and memory.
  5. Increased feelings of vitality and rejuvenation.
  6. Increased happiness and emotional stability.

With all of this in mind. why do we still so often breathe shallowly…aimlessly…without conscious thought.

I’m probably writing this more for myself as I struggle at times when things don’t run smoothly and admit to sweating the small stuff. If I’m carrying a heavy load of commitments on my shoulders, I try and use my yogic breath, my gurus teachings and turn to faith in the divine universal principals of karma trusting it will carry me through the waves of life.

‘Like a finely tuned woodwind instrument, our bodies need oxygen in order to sing and play. The sweeter the quality of breath, the sweeter the quality of the harmony in our lives’.. Whether you practice yoga as a physical exercise or embrace it as an all-encompassing life philosophy, the breath is the heart of everything. The beginning, the middle. The end. And whatever comes after that.’ My advice….Breathe, Bend, Blossom!

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