It is not actually a matter of HOW yoga can transform the mind but that it CAN transform your mind.
In my yoga studio, located in Georgetown, Ontario, I have had the beautiful opportunity to experience my students practice and evolve on their mat. I have experienced a student let go of all that was going outside the studio and breath and flow; allowing herself to connect within and move HER body into a posture that feels good in the moment for her. I have experienced students come off depression and/or anxiety medication because they do not need them anymore (under the supervision of a medical professional). They are empowered in their own life and wake up with such energy and zest for life (and yoga!) and no longer have the constant reel in their head. They have learned the tools on their mat to live their life medication free. I have experienced students cry and release and listen to their inner self, really connecting with what they want; finding their power and stepping into new experiences, jobs and lives they only imagined.
I have not only witnessed this but lived it. The only constant that I kept in my life while I was in my depression was yoga. I didn't know that I was depressed but I knew yoga was keeping me afloat. It was not until the realization that it all came together and I understood the true impact yoga has for the mind.
Of course, it has amazing benefits for your body, especially a Vinyasa class, but slowing down and focusing on breath creates a mind-body connection that can change your mindset.
There are plenty of studies that show how yoga can change your mindset or keep it young! For example, a Harvard Study showed that completing complex movements can help reduce dementia in the elderly. That is why in my Vinyasa or Hatha classes, I have my students move around their mats and change directions throughout the class.
Surveys completed by Harvard found that those who practiced yoga were more aware of their bodies than people who didn't practice yoga. Yoga helps you connect with your inner self. By focusing on your breath and slowing down you focus your attention on your body's ability in the moment. That is why my studio does not have any mirrors. It is not about how you look in a posture but that you honour your body in the moment. How does your body feel in a posture? Can you breath and find yourself deeper in a pose or do you need reduce the "push" or "needing" to get into a pose and just be where you are that day? Can you release your ego and the "look how good I look" or "I can't do what she/he is doing" and focus on just you and be amazed by what you can do! Yoga has become an important part in the treatment of eating disorders and programs that promote positive body image and why it is an integral part of SelfLove Health and Wellness!
A Harvard Medical School professor in psychiatry has been working on a study on how a yoga practice affects gene and brain activity in the chronically stressed. Preliminary results show that mind-body connection can turn some genes on and off that are linked to stress and immune function and you don't even have to practice daily. By learning the techniques or breath and meditation is enough to change your brain and your body! Pretty cool stuff.
Have you added yoga to your weekly routine? How has it changed your mindset? Please share your experience so others looking to heal/change their mindset/find peace/destress can learn from you.