What is The Mind-Body Connection & Why is it Important?
Taking time to check in with your mental health and physical health is so important. The two are closely interconnected and one can’t be healthy without the other. A healthy mind-body connection is a great way to boost emotional regulation, behavioral health, positive outlook, calmness, and more.
But what exactly is the mind-body connection, and why is it so important? We answer these questions below and give you some expert tips on how to incorporate mind-body practices into your fitness routine.
Let’s get started.
A mind-body connection refers to the conscious and subconscious relationship between the mind and the body. Simply put, our minds influence our bodies and vice versa.
The biological functions of everyday life that the brain and body work together to maintain are influenced by our conscious feelings and thoughts and our unconscious emotions. Our mind is influenced by the actions (or lack thereof) of our bodies.
For example, when you’re stressed, your shoulders and neck get tense and you may get a headache or experience stomach pains, high blood pressure, or an elevated heart rate. This is a common example of how the subconscious mind influences the body.
On the other hand, the body influences the mind in a positive way when we work out. Exercise has the ability to release “happy hormones” from our brains, such as dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin.
You can tap into this connection by making time to check in with yourself, your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Increased awareness of these and how they impact your physical wellbeing is also a sign of good emotional health.
The mind-body connection is important because it impacts your mental state and physical health. A strong mind-body connection lowers blood pressure, anxiety, and fatigue while improving digestion, rest, pain management, cognitive function like memory and attention, and strengthening your immune system and stress tolerance.
Your body’s ability to cope with stress is especially important since stress can lead to illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, depression, and more. The interconnectivity of the mind-body is apparent in these benefits since the mind impacts the body and the body impacts the mind.
You can deepen the mind-body connection through thought-focused practices such as meditation, yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi. All four of these mindful activities focus on guided thought and breathing techniques that calm your mind and body.
For beginners, it’s best to use guided meditation or take a yoga, Pilates, or Tai Chi class where an instructor can teach you the fundamentals and guide you through the motions to ensure you’re getting a mind-body connection. These activities are an effective way to identify any tensions or stressors from the outside and release them through relaxation, movement, and breath.
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Originating in India over 5,000 years ago, yoga was originally created with the purpose to connect human and universal consciousness through physical activity and movement. It’s one of the most effective ways to achieve a mind-body connection. It’s a type of movement meditation that focuses on deep breathing while moving through a series of poses. In addition to strength building, yoga focuses on flexibility, and spirituality, incorporating some aspects of meditation throughout the practice. Yoga instructors often ask you to set an intention for your practice that you carry throughout the class.
Yoga ends in a position called Savasana where you lay completely still, allowing the body to rest and let go of any tensions, stress, or attachments to feelings or sensations.
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Developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s to help injured dancers with recovery, Pilates is a form of low impacts body conditioning, focusing on strength building, flexibility, and postural alignment. It has a less spiritual emphasis than yoga; however, similar to yoga, Pilates, helps you achieve a mind-body connection by using specific breathing techniques while performing the movements to build body awareness. Pilates uses more precise movements than yoga while putting a strong focus on strengthening the core (which Joseph Pilates, calls our “Powerhouse”).
Connect your mind and body while getting an amazing core workout with lululemon Studio’s Pilates classes.
3. Tai Chi
During a Tai Chi practice, you’re asked to bring your awareness to your body, breath, and mind—otherwise referred to as the three treasures.
While yoga focuses on strength, flexibility, and spirituality and Pilates has a strong emphasis on core strengthening and postural alignment, Tai Chi improves agility and balance. Note, all three of these practices will improve strength and flexibility to some degree. Unlike yoga or Pilates, Tai Chi doesn’t hold poses for extended periods of time, rather flows through each pose slowly and deliberately.
Tai Chi uses a series of meditative movements that connect with the breath. You simultaneously have to focus on the movements and your breath, being very intentional while also finding a state of flow. In Tai Chi, you can’t overthink your movements or have your thoughts drift elsewhere; otherwise, you’ll lose that mind-body connection.
It may look easy, but it’s actually a unique challenge that aligns the mind, body, and spirit.
Find your flow in lululemon Studio’s Tai Chi classes. Stream them live or on-demand.
Although not technically considered a “workout”, meditation can be thought of as a workout for the mind. Many people think meditation is clearing the mind of thoughts, but in actuality, you can’t rid your mind of thoughts.
Meditation is the practice of detaching emotions or judgment from your thoughts, seeing them objectively as they pass through your mind, and allowing them to enter and exit without attachment. The body ties into this because the calming of the mind, in turn, calms the body.
Meditation comes in many forms. It can be done guided or unguided, eyes open or closed, seated or standing or lying down, and often incorporates different breathing techniques.
Take a moment for yourself and deepen your mind-body connection with lululemon Studio’s Guided Meditation classes.
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The comfort of your own home is the perfect place to tap into your mind-body connection. Let lululemon Studio be your guide to a deeper mind-body connection with our yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, and mediation classes, available live or on-demand.
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