Creating Positive changes through Yoga and Meditation

Karina Stewart - Kamalaya

Yoga and meditation are two practices that I can enthusiastically encourage for anyone seeking to relieve stress and anxiety. Each practice provides both instant gratification and lasting transformation. Yoga can change your physical and mental capacity quickly, while preparing and supporting the mind and body for long-term health. The deep breathing and meditation practices can also create immediate changes by calming the nervous system in as little as ten deep breaths as measured by lowered cortisol levels. Together these practices help foster an inner shift away from stress and anxiety towards an expanded awareness, towards something a little bit bigger than the issues we face, helping to unclutter the mind and cultivating within us greater clarity and focus.

I recently read an article showing that science is slowly proving that even a single yoga class increases the brain’s level of gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, a neurotransmitter with anti-anxiety properties. The article reads, ‘The mind-body connection is of increasing interest to modern scientists. In 2013, the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry published Yoga on Our Minds - two professors from Queen’s University reviewed more than 100 studies on yoga and mental health and concluded that yoga had benefits for people with depression, insomnia, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Also in 2014, Harvard researchers wrote that daily meditation (which is often incorporated into yoga) increased the brain’s grey matter – which is associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection – in just eight weeks.’

The biggest challenge for most of us today is finding the time to incorporate these practices into our daily lives with how much we already have on our schedules. In order to make this change, we must consciously decide to invest even a little bit of time to ourselves and commit to make the time on a regular basis. One of my favourite teachers recommends even just 5 or 10 minutes at a regular time at the start and at the end of each day. And even this modest start can make a big difference to our mental and emotional outlook. And it is a great place to start…and gradually adding 5 minutes at regular intervals throughout the day becomes a realistic goal.

A guest blog post from Healing Expert Karina Stewart, co-founder of Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary

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