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Mind Body Connection?

1lila12010-07-05 02:26:55 +0000 #1
Hi,

I'm very much new to yoga, as in a few weeks. I have never been to a yoga class but am starting out at home with some beginner DVD's. What attracted me to yoga is the strength, flexibility, relaxation, stress relief, and the "mind body connection" I can gain from the practice. I've always had difficulty building upper body strength even though I'm moderately fit and I hike a lot. But just these last few weeks I am noticing a strength in my upper body. I can now do a proper plank pose and transition into a downward dog repeatedly. This was unimaginable a few weeks ago.

My big question is how do I know when my mind and body are connected? I'm an agnostic and am not really interested in the religious aspect of yoga but I do enjoy the meditation. I apologize if that is sacreligous to any here as that is not my intention. I'm just trying to explain where I'm coming from.

I'm trying hard to concentrate on coordinating my body movements with my breath. I've noticed more of an "awareness" of my body and of it's movement. Is this what is meant by the mind-body connection? How will I know when my mind and body are connected?

I apologize if this is a very stupid question and thank you in advance for your answers.


delphizealot2010-07-05 02:31:32 +0000 #2
For what it's worth, the mind and body certainly aren't disconnected, so the mind-body connection is not really anything new. The main caveat is that I often act as if my mind and body were separate and independent, which is not in accordance with reality and thus creates the conditions for stress. It's like trying to use a hammer by gripping it at the head; just not very effective that way. My experience of the practice of yoga has been the experience of learning how to use the mind and body together effectively. Since learning is mostly a process of successfully failing in the right direction, I can learn quite a lot from my ineffective attempts at effectiveness.
Pandara2010-07-05 03:08:25 +0000 #3
Namaste and welcome to the forum.

Just one thing: there absolute nothing "religious" about yoga. Please understand that yoga is not a religion at all and herein lies the beauty of yoga that it is suitable and adaptable to the belief system of the practitioner, whatever that may be.

There is however a deep and profound philosophy connected to yoga and I would like to encourage you to explore this philospohy as I am sure it will add to and enhance your yoga experience and assist you in understanding an aspect such as the mind/body connection.
InnerAthlete2010-07-05 02:44:15 +0000 #4
I want to reaffirm Pandara's assertion that yoga and religion are separate. Something that has a philosophy does not necessarily have a religion. And this topic could be bandied about many, many times.

It might be best to ask whomever told you that Yoga fulfills some mind-body connection. I believe there are some popular buzz phrases that swirl around yoga and they come from many places - often those places are not yoga itself.

But they are there nonetheless so we deal.

In studying the brain we know that if you are moving your left arm you are doing so using your right brain as each hemisphere of the brain controls messages sent to the other half of the body. So we innately have a mind-body connection already.

Instead I prefer to use the term awareness practice. One does not one day wake up and find themselves aware. One simply does the work of honing awareness and the lights turn on slowly from dim to bright (hopefully). How will you know? You WILL know.
Hubert2010-07-05 03:00:17 +0000 #5
Agnostic is a person who does not believe the world is knowable. (Gnosis = knowledge, from greek) Most fundamentalist, or dogmatic religious people are agnostic, believeing in revelation, scripture, dogma, and repelling the possibility of learnig the truth by personal effort, through our minds, through reason.

A person like you, who is interested only in physical aspects of yoga, I'd call such a person a materialist. But you are also interested in mind ... and mind is not matter. So you are not a materialist.

I'd say, you are a person with her head on her shoulders, and confidence in her own ability to deal whatever life throws at her, a very good starting position for any yoga.

As about your question, the mind body connection cannot be analyzed without identifying first body, and mind. It does not matter what others might say about them. You are the one who must deepen these terms, notions, experiences. Meditate on this: what is the body ? Than on this: what is the mind ?
1lila12010-07-05 03:20:46 +0000 #6
Thank you all for your answers and for taking the time to reply. I have read each one carefully and they have all been very helpful.

In specific response to Hunter, I describe myself as an agnostic but am also a scientist. One of the basic premises of science is that the world is in fact knowable. To me it is the "other" world or the supernatural realm that I believe is unknowable. As an Ecologist I study the Earth's systems and how they respond to their constant state of being in flux (there is no "balance of nature") so I very much believe that natural phenomena is in fact knowable.

I believe that everything has a natural explanation. Perhaps I'm over analyzing Yoga. I tend to want facts and want them now. It's hard for me to just patently sit back and allow myself to discover the wonderful benefits that Yoga may bring me. Although that may, in fact, be exactly what I need right now.

For now, as a beginner, I know that it is working physically and mentally. I see that by focusing on breath and moving my body along with my breath I'm better able to live in the moment and focus on exactly what I'm doing at the present as opposed to the ten million other things I have to do later. Perhaps this is this elusive "body-mind" connection I'm seeking.

Also, I feel the need to put a disclaimer that my lack of religious belief has nothing to do with my profession. Many many scientists, including many of my colleagues, are deeply religious and see no conflict whatsoever.

Again, thanks to each of you for your thoughtful relies. I really appreciate them and look forward to learning more.
Hubert2010-07-05 03:28:31 +0000 #7
Ah, a scientist ! I'd gladly chat with you, if you'd not mind, but I am sure you would.

The name is Hubert, by the way. Scientists should pay attention to little details, because this is what they do best.

But to not be rude, I'll share that I am an architect.
1lila12010-07-05 04:28:02 +0000 #8
Sorry, that's what I get for trying to do the 10 million things at once. I meant no disrespect, Hubert.

I'm not sure what you mean by saying that I wouldn't want to talk to you. Did you disagree with something specific I said? I'm here to get a better understanding of Yoga and it's many benefits although I welcome intelligent debate with well informed participants and I respect a difference of opinion. Being in science I tend to avoid debates with those that aren't trained in the hard sciences as I find we are arguing on different levels and it goes nowhere. It would be like me arguing with an architect about the best way to build a building. How would I know?? Of course, it all depends on the subject of the debate though!
Hubert2010-07-05 06:29:25 +0000 #9
I wanted to say that I do not think a solely materialist world view is true, and I think that materialism on the superficial level of the ordinary man, is actually harmful.

Now, you may choose to categorize me as an idealist, living in fantasies, a hopeless case, as you might think that you lack the time and need to explain your believes to a total stranger on the internet, or, we might really talk about it.

What I want to attract your attention is that just as someone who comes here and says, well, I like yoga, but I use it for my health, but leave me alone with it's philosophy, because that is based on some strange cosmogony, related to indian religious practices, and I am a good christian, roman catholic for example, the same way when someone comes and says the same, but instead of the Church, names science as his belief, it cuts things very short.

Materialist science is a belief system. What is good in scientific thinking are it's methods. It looks for laws, it looks for repeatable experiences, it looks for structure, order, reason. On the other hand, it is nevertheless dogmatic. It's main axioms are: If there are two hypotetic solutions, the more simple is true. This is wrong. This is done mainly to make scientific work easier on the scientists' part, and it is a supposition, not necessarily true in all cases. Another axiom is: only things observable by senses (be those enhanced senses, like through a microscope, or telescope, X-ray's, chemical traces, you know them better), only these things exist. Thus, science is oriented toward the physical world, and negates the existence of other planes. Personal suprasensorial expereinces show that this is not true, but scientist cannot check them. They are not physical, or do not have physical traces, or if they have them, the scientsis shouts scam. Another axiom is that a phenomenon to be real, it has to be repeatable, and measurable. Again, too many suppositions.

Fact is that materialist science has encompassing hypostesisis about many things, but it lacks giving answers to the basic questions of man's life. It lacks life. Science DOES NOT KNOW WHAT LIFE IS. If we knew, we could create life, living organisms. But we can't. We can manipulate living organisms, but we cannot create life. We can create the necessary circumstances where life can manifest, but we cannot create life.

Materialist science has a working hypotesis about life's apparition. It avoids carefully the word, creation, that would supposing some invisible source for life or matter. In the evoutionary theory, or scientific cosmogony, the place of invisible actions is attributed to chance. From the infinitely dense first state, through a little inbalance in that state, created by chance, the Big Bang appeared.

Materialist science would like us to beleive that the universe, galaxies, solar systems, planets, earth, life all appeared through mere chance, from chaos, by blind laws of attraction, and the ever increasing complexity of the world, ending with man, is a product of these universal, blind laws, by mere chance through accidents, mutations, again, chance. They say, weird mutations occur all the time, and some of them miraculously result forms, members, aptitudes what make that particular individual more fit for it's environment. The unfit mutations die out, but these happy chances go on, and thus through millions of years, by so many happy chances an evolutionary process shows itself. (there is no physical evidence of the huge amount of weird mutations, what should have been there to make possible the happy chance to appear) This mutational theory should not exclude the possibility that the happy chances do not produce evolution at all. The possibility for entire races becoming extinct, never creating the possibilty for something more evolved to happen, or life itself to vanish, is not excluded by this theory. Scientist say, our very existence shows that it did happen, but this is barely a proof for a lose, frogiving theroy to be true. In fact this theory of happy chances, accidents, has the lowest probability, ever. It assumes the existence of exponentially beneficial chances. To make a rude example, it is like believeing that adding all the construction elements into a great box, shaking that box long enough, a house will produce itself, than by having many similar boxes, we have many different houses, than we take all the houses and put them togeher into a still greater box, than shake that great box again until a city marvelously appears. Is ti possible, yes. Is it likely ? Not at all. And we did not even ask who's shaking the boxes.

This example I give to contrast both the totally materialist world view, and the creationist God started it, but after that it rolls from itself mechanistic view.

Now, I realize that this example is not a proof as it is just based on suppositions, that there exist construction elements, boxes, the shaking forces. But this is exactly what maetreialist science does. It is so afraid to admit invisible causes, that rather it accepts very unlikely, inprobable scenarios.

I am not saying to go back to some simplistic religious imagery. But that imagery, is simplistic only because it is examined by a material, sensual mind.

The methods of science are good, but it its axioms, and suppositions are wrong. The same methods must be applied to man himself, and than man will know himself. A man, to know himself, must be aware what happens with him, a being. A certain detachment must occur, to see oneself objectively. For this to happen, reason, mind, emotions must be educated. This cannot be done without morality. When a person is able to detach from his senses, his ordinary thoughts (generated by the space-time world), his personal life, than universal truths about man, humanity will dawn in him, through imagination, (a pictorial way of thinking), inspiration (something similar to music) and intuition (instant knowledge, without time, and spatiality). These qualities are there in the human soul, and they work for more or less. They can be educated, strenghtened, and through them higher knowledge is possible, and insight into the hidden, non physical fabric of the world.

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