When the body awakens the mind awakens when the mind awakens the spirit awakens.
Yoga rehabilitates and rebalances every system of the body from the musculoskeletal to the endocrine systems. Yoga is utilized by many for its therapeutic effects on the body; for the many ailments and misalignments of the spine, for arthritis, heart disease, athletic injury and performance, back pain, neck pain, fatigue etc, etc. Yoga reopens the joints so there is better lubrication of the joints, lengthens and relaxes muscle to greatly improve range of motion, strengthens bone and muscle, improves balance, improves sleep, greatly reduces dangerous stress and anxiety and can even, according the medical studies performed by Dr. Dean Ornish, reduces and remove blockages of the arteries. To reduce blockages of arteries you must faithfully practice yoga and follow a strict low fat vegetarian diet, which is also advised in yoga teachings.
Now, once we have the body replenished, enlivened and pain under control, the mind can be rehabilitated. This is the path of yoga. How does one rehabilitate the mind? You need the entire package of yoga to do this. You have to want to learn all about yoga and you have to want to improve yourself. You must begin with the Yamas, Niyamas, asanas and pranayama. These are first four limbs of Patanjali's 8 limbs of yoga.
Next, to purify the mind/spirit you need the next four of the 8 limbs of yoga which are pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. These last four limbs are sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation and a state of blissful expansion of the mind, respectively. The practice of deep meditation involves releasing the mind from any thought at all. This takes education and practice. When the mind is cleared it is creating space for new ways of thinking. Like defragmenting your computer to clear up space for new information. When the mind is freed the heart opens and the spirit is ready to be experienced on a elevated level.
Also, keep in mind the laws of karma. This is very important for clearing the mind to accomplish a state of peace. Your thoughts create your words, your words create your actions and all of this creates your karma. So watch your thoughts carefully. How does one practice watching their thoughts? First of all by qualifying the quality of your thoughts. You do this by thought purification. Ask yourself from time to time, what was I just thinking? What was that chatter in the back of my mind saying. Is it valid? Is it true? Is it exaggerated with emotional fuel? In what direction are my thoughts taking me? Am I making myself angry, sad, frustrated or am I thinking positively and with confidence. How are you thinking is the question? And what are you thinking? The mind is tossed about by one thought after another. It is the nature of the mind to constantly evaluate whatever our inner and outer senses are perceiving. We need to reduce our thoughts so we can refocus again and create new thought waves and patterns.
Our habitual ways of thinking have created deep pathways or deep grooves in the brain. These deep grooves in the mind occur when we emotionally react the same way to situations over and over again or think the same thoughts over and over again. We may react to our lives with constant negativity and depression, anxiety, fear, with low self-esteem. And then we become depression, anxiety, fear and think lowly of ourselves. This is very dangerous. Just as we create negative pathways we can create pathways of happiness, fulfillment, and joy, but it is so much easier to create negative and harmful thought pathways. So one must carefully watch their thoughts. These habitual grooves or pathways can and will be reduced and rewired by the practice of yoga postures, relaxation and meditation.
An advanced yogi is not someone who is super flexible. An advanced yogi is someone who is able to intensify their focus and who has developed body awareness
Here is a simple example of the mind/body connection: The new yoga practitioner may have thought patterns of not being strong enough or not being good enough due to past negative experiences. They will be so engrossed in these negative thoughts that they may not even be able to absorb what the teacher is teaching and therefor not receive the benefit and quit the class. Here is another example: A beginner practitioner’s mind may be anxious to perform the yoga poses or the person new to yoga may unconsciously compete with the person next to them. These thoughts are not connected to their bodies but outside of their bodies. This means they are not aware of the sensations in the body and may over stretch and deplete the body’s energy instead of replenish it. Yoga is a deep focus on all of the sensations of the body. Yoga is a method that teaches physical and mental strength and also strengthens the nervous system so you are steady and calm in all situations. This steadiness and strengthening of the nervous system helps us to decrease stress in every aspect of our lives. It is a rebalancing and rehabilitation of the mind and body. You can build cardiovascular strength and stamina with yoga, but this comes with practice, time and patience with the poses.
You are not separate from everything; you are everything.
How is yoga a balance of the mind, body AND spirit? First of all what is the spirit? According to Thomas Moore in Care of the Soul spirit is that which rises above the mundane; that which elevates our consciousness and our attitudes. Yoga does that in so many ways but you must first start with the body and the mind. If the body/mind is in pain, fatigued, or stuck in old habits, it is very difficult to elevate the spirit. You must address the body/mind first. Then we go to the spirit. Of course, in reality we are working on the mind/body/spirit simultaneously. You must believe in the possibility of changing of seeing yourself in a different way. You must be willing to study yourself and give yourself the time and energy to look closely at yourself. In yoga language all of yoga is an awakening of the third eye; the OM space. This is an understanding that we are all connected; we are all connected and we are connected to the ecology of the world and the universe. You need some proof? Think about this short statement. The rain forests are our lungs. Practicing yoga weaves you into life. You can never be lonely as a yogi because you are connected to nature. The study of yoga philosophy inspires profound thought which is the spring board for new awareness and levels of higher consciousness. Yoga helps us to get out of the way of ourselves and experience new realities. When we practice yoga we realize that every single action from big to small is a profound ritual from making a cup of tea to performing brain surgery. Yoga deepens your experience of life.
Yoga is a way to clear away old harmful thoughts and misunderstandings of the mind, to remold the body into a cleaner, stronger, healthier vehicle, and to bring peace of mind and focused attention on whatever subject you have your mind on.