This is a guest post from Shar Ray from Dahn Yoga.
Just about everyone experiences nagging thoughts from time to time they would rather not have. These thoughts are negative and seem to appear out of nowhere. While it may feel as though these negative thoughts are unavoidable, you have much more control over the direction of your thoughts than most would believe.
One way to gain a greater amount of mental control is to practice yoga. This exercise regimen is often associated with physical fitness and flexibility, but it provides just as many mental benefits. Joining a yoga class may help you sharpen your cognitive control and limit some of the unpleasant negative thoughts you experience during the day.
How yoga delivers mental benefits
The reason yoga is so effective is that it improves mindfulness. This term describes the degree to which a person is aware of their own thought patterns. When we get busy in our jobs or taking care of family responsibilities, we often lose our mindfulness. This is when those negative and unconscious thoughts tend to pop up.
However, yoga improves your ability to keep your thoughts focused on the present and makes you more aware of where each idea in your head comes from. This makes it easier to control the direction of thoughts.
Yoga accomplishes this by asking you to practice keeping your attention focused on the moment. During a typical session, you are instructed to focus your attention on how positions feel in certain areas of the body. By keeping thoughts trained on this narrow track, you prevent your mind wandering to extraneous concerns.
In this way, yoga is similar to meditation, which also requires you focus your attention on present matters, while releasing thoughts of the past or future.
The implications of improved present-focus
When you practice mindfulness through regular yoga classes over an extended period of time, present-focused thinking becomes second nature. The more you exist with your mind focused on the here and now, the less likely your mind is to slip into negative thoughts.
This can have many benefits for everyday life. Depression, which is one of the most common mental disorders, is characterised by dwelling on negative thoughts of the past. Anxiety, another common condition, involves worry about potentially negative future occurrences.
By keeping the mind focused on the present, it is possible to relieve these types of conditions. This frees the brain up to think only about the most important things, which are the things occurring in the present.
Yoga is one of the best ways to achieve these types of mental benefits. Numerous studies have shown people who practice yoga for extended periods of time are calm, free of unnecessary concerns and more capable of directing their thoughts where they wish.
If you consider yoga to be an exercise geared toward physical health you may want to reconsider. Yoga can help you stay in the moment and start to release negative thinking.
This is the power of yoga and believing in yourself.
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