Dharmic exercise is the cleansing of past life karma and reaching nirvana which are the fundamental goals of the eight limbs of yoga. Within the eight limbs of yoga are the principles of personal behavior, known as the Niyamas. Within the five Niyamas is the principle of self-discipline, Tapas.
Tapas are considered one of the keys to burning past karma and building a moral and ethical Dharma. Daily exercise is itself a discipline. A daily yoga practice involves the other two limbs of yoga known as Pranayama (control of breathe) and Asana (postures). The roots of these practices are found in ancient Vedic tomes for Ayurveda (therapeutic healing) and Yoga (to yoke/unite) the mind and body.
The union of mind and body are important because one needs physical and mental wellness to live. Exercising daily is a wonderful way to reduce stress in one’s life both physically and emotionally. Whenever you exercise, you are physically removing yourself away from the situation that is causing you stress. As the body exercises, it circulates oxygen through the bloodstream producing powerful chemicals called ‘endorphins’ which elevates your state of mind!
Yoga is designed to keep the body and joints supple. These days, many of us lead unnatural, sedentary lives that cause our joints to stiffen prematurely. Our lifestyles force us to adopt postures that cause us stiffness and even pain, resulting in pressures on our nervous system and musculature.
Relaxation, or ‘Savasana’, is also a part of Yogic teaching. By focusing internally, you learn to listen to your body, to its wants and needs. The breathing and heart rate are slowed down, which is an important beginning to controlling the autonomic responses of which we assume are beyond our control.
There are not just muscular benefits to performing the Asanas. Our Asana practice also benefits connective tissue (tendons, ligaments, and even fascia if poses are held long enough), joint range of motion and flexibility, balance, and the lymphatic system. Consider now as part of your daily exercise, to exercise the mind too. Strictly speaking, each Asana, when performed mindfully, may become meditative and lead to clarity of thought. The trick is to find that depth. Another great way to get your mind working is to mix up your routine a little. In the eastern tradition of Ayurveda, one exercises in relation with nature, which means taking into account the season and time of day. Here are some ways to exercise mindfully:
Do strenuous exercise during the cool hours of the day, 8-10am and during the winter months, practice a more physically demanding yoga practice such as vinyasa or flow yoga (specifically standing and balancing poses integrated by breath).
Light circulatory exercise is best during the evening hours of 5-8pm, such as a gentle flow or therapeutic stretch class.
Now more than ever our practice is vital in maintaining a healthy lifestyle in today’s hectic world and have many options for developing and maintaining a balanced and healthy life. Check out our new fall class schedule and come to some new classes at the studio to get a little different perspective and exercise your mind as well as your body!