Relaxed mind leads to better health
RELAXING the mind to heal the body and soothe the soul - that's the last thing yoga beginners may think of when attempting the painful-looking lotus position.
But University of Sydney research recently found that the relaxation method was linked to better mental health.
The national study involved a world-first health quality-of-life survey of long-term meditators, and proved the mental silence experienced through meditation was linked to better health outcomes and greater well-being.
Meditators with a minimum of two years regular practice were more than 10% mentally better off than the general population of Australia.
Sunshine Coast Power Yoga instructor Natasha Patten wasn't surprised by the findings and said the benefits of meditation were far reaching.
"A lot of my clients come in at first for physical challenges," she said.
"But they've found with the mental silence they get from doing yoga, they keep coming back to overcome their mental challenges.
"With yoga and meditation, I think you realise your inner conflicts and learn how to deal with them. It helps you deal with stress, then your overall sense of well-being starts to improve."
Natasha said more people were starting to realise those benefits.
"We need to take care of everything on every level including mentally," she said.
"Corporate businesses are starting to offer meditation to their staff to help in creating a calmer workplace. Weaving meditation into your life is important.
"It helps with a lot of people's busy heads."
Lifeforce Wellbeing Program managing director Julie Ellwood said meditation had never been so important.
"Meditation - more so today where we all have such busy lives - brings back the balance," she said.
"It's about taking time out from everything else you'd normally think about, and thinking about the now.
"I have this saying - if you're busy, you should take five minutes out of your day to meditate.
"If you're really busy, you should take an hour out of your day to meditate."
Julie said meditation wasn't all sitting down and humming like many people might believe.
"It can be anything where you're taking time out and appreciating everything around you - as long as you're thinking about what's in front of you and nothing else," she said.
"If you're not here, you're no-where.
"You're thinking about the past or the future and both of those times essentially don't exist."
Julie said the University of Sydney study showed just how important taking time out was.
"Meditation and mental silence have far-reaching benefits," she said.
"It helps relationships. It helps with work.
"Tuning into ourselves helps us learn about ourselves, and helps us become calmer people."