The most important step is getting started, Ricketson says. Here are seven things beginners — and anyone practicing yoga — should know to maximize their benefits:
- Cardiovascular (aerobic) training: As with meditation, focused breathing is a cornerstone of mind-body training. Aerobic means “with oxygen”and aerobic movement increases the flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body, including the brain. Cardiovascular training is the single most important aspect of the physical training because it keeps the heart open and strong.
- Core and strength training: This includes the students’ abdomen and buttocks, and the lower back region, which extends to the base of the skull. Here is where strength, stability, and balance originate.
- Flexibility training (yoga postures): Stretching simply feels good, and it reminds students to not only be more flexible in one’s body, but also one’s mind. This step allows us to move (and live) with greater ease.
- Adequate rest: Sleep is a necessary part of life, and sufficient rest is needed for energy and equilibrium.
- Life-giving nutrition: Making the right choices in food allows yoga students to achieve an optimal, balanced state. This includes nutritional foods consumed in moderation.
- Family/community/church: From Epicurus to modern science, study and observation show that we find greater happiness with access to friends and family.
- Written goals and a plan of action: Goals and stated intention act as a road map to achieving balanced well-being.
Ricketson says the above steps are just the beginning. She says tapping in to the mind-body connection also helps memory loss, attention deficit disorders, public violence — including in schools — as well as an unknown amount of needless human suffering.
“We all have within us a potential to experience optimal well-being in mind and body,” she says. “This potential, the good within, can be realized through the work of mind-body training. Our training is a moving meditation — a daily practice of exercises that awaken all that is good within.”
Source: Mary Jo Ricketson,