The Wisdom of Yoga
Applications for Emotional Well-Being
by Kristen Acciari
The physical benefits of practicing yoga—from improving posture to lowering blood pressure, and beyond—are well documented. What seems less understood, particularly in Western culture, is the incredible depth of yoga philosophy and the emotional benefits of applying yogic wisdom to how we live our daily lives.
Yoga is much more than the physical postures (called asanas) and the practice has much to teach us if we are willing to look beyond the surface.
The word yoga means union. Yoga philosophy refers to the breath as prana, or life force energy. There is an understanding that our breath is that which gives us life and animates our physical body, and so the breath is linked to our spirit. Therefore, when we are guided during a practice to link breath (spirit) with movement (body) and awareness (mind), yoga offers us an experience of integration, aligning all layers of the self.
Yoga creates space for the type of quiet and stillness that encourages introspection in an increasingly busy and externally-focused world. In this space, we have the opportunity to access a visceral experience of connection with ourselves, all living beings, and all that is. Tapping into this deep spiritual reservoir within reminds us of our own infinite nature and provides a sense of internal support that acts much like a loving parent, making us feel safe and emboldening us to go out into the world fully, take chances and explore.
Experiencing this connection is profoundly impactful in supporting emotional well-being. It is a felt sense, an experiential knowing, that we are not alone. We can feel our place in the whole and understand in a way beyond words that we are an important part of something much larger than ourselves. We are loved, we are supported, we matter—and we can feel it.
So the next time you get on your mat, set an intention to look for deeper meaning in your practice. If you find yourself unsteady in a balancing pose, come back to your center and reset. When life throws you a curveball that knocks you slightly off course, do the same. When you lay down with yourself in the quiet stillness of savasana (final relaxation pose) move your awareness into your heart and offer the gift of your presence to yourself. When you feel lost or disconnected, running from one thing on your to-do list to the next, do the same.
Give yourself the gifts of stillness and self-connection. Let the quiet moments where you touch your true nature serve as the solid foundation on which you build the amazing adventure of your fullest life. It is in this way that we begin to know true freedom.
Kristen Acciari is a licensed independent clinical social worker and 200-hour certified yoga teacher. She is also the founder of The Holistic Heart, Mental Health & Wellness Center in Warwick, where they take a holistic approach to the treatment of mental and emotional health through the combination of holistic counseling, yoga and meditation to work with all layers of the human experience: mind, body and spirit. Learn more at HolisticHear