Yoga Helps with Self-Discipline
Modern psychology has begun to study how we approach our goals. Achieving a goal requires discipline, perseverance, and repeated effort. We make our goals in great enthusiasm but once we begin the journey toward the goal, we begin to fall into old patterns which sabotage our efforts. We sabotage ourselves by reminding ourselves of past failures or worries that the journey will be too hard or that it may be for nothing.
Our goals in yoga are no different. We may think of yoga as a way to unwind and reconnect with ourselves, but to get the full benefit we sometimes have to do yoga when we don’t feel like doing yoga. Yoga is a discipline which the seasoned yogi must practice daily. As with any discipline or goal, some days we prefer to hit the snooze button or find something else to do. The marvelous thing about yoga is that by doing it every day, it actually makes you want to do it every day. Yoga increases your ability to be self-disciplined which will help you reach other goals you may have.
How Yoga Changes Neural Pathways in Our Brains
Our reactions and habits are products of neural path ways which have been in use for prolonged periods of time in our lives, maybe even our whole lives. Bad habits can include picking up and lighting a cigarette when we feel the stimulus of stress enter our systems. It could be that stress causes a repeating cycle of worry, anxiety, anger, and depression which you find yourself in when facing a choice that will affect your future. This is linked to over eating or eating unhealthy foods and other compulsive behaviors.
Science has shown that our brains are plastic, meaning they can be changed. We can form denser gray matter and form new neural pathways. Making different, healthier choices takes effort and human beings would much rather take the path of least resistance; the easy way. By doing yoga, you are creating new pathways which reinforce your ability to make good choices. The practice of self-discipline is actually an integral part of yogic practice.
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Self-Discipline Is Reinforced by Yoga
When attending a yoga class or watching a yoga DVD, you may hear the instructor say, “Set your intention.” In yoga, this is seeing what you wish to achieve, it may be seeing yourself reach a goal or even holding a certain yoga pose during your practice. By setting your intention, you are looking into what you truly want to happen and examining if it is for your good or the good of those you are connected to. It is clarification of your goal which you must do in order to achieve it.
The actual practice of the yoga poses then helps to discipline your mind by moving you through the process of assuming the pose and then holding it. This requires focus and determination. Doing this daily will create new pathways in your brain. Studies are showing the more we practice self-discipline, the greater our self-discipline becomes. This then leads to a greater ability to achieve our goals.
Daily practice is essential to create new neural pathways. To truly embrace yoga, attending a weekly class is not enough. You must take charge of your practice and set aside time. Not only will daily practice help you to reap the benefits yoga has for your body, it will help you gain the mental and spiritual strength you need to achieve other goals you have. Persisting in yoga where you are actually quieting your mind and gaining focus will strengthen your ability to persevere as you pursue goals may seem unrelated to yoga. By allowing yoga to reach into the other areas of your life, you begin to experience what yoga is, is to bring unity to your life and by doing so empowering yourself to fully live.