International Yoga Day is celebrated on 21st June. This day that reemphasises the need for Physical Fitness and Mental health for our well being. The theme in 2023 was ‘Yoga for Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,’ which is a dream that we all cherish- ‘One Earth, One Family, and One Future.” In order to attain this dream of living in harmony and peace,we need to be at peace with ourselves. Life is a gift that is meant to be cherished. In order to live a meaningful life one needs to have a sound mind and body. Physical fitness is directly related to mental well being. It’s only when we pay equal attention to both aspects of life can we lead a quality life and strive towards excellence to live our dreams.
My association with the Mystic Yoga Foundation has given me a new perspective on the need for the well being of the mind and the body for nourishing the soul. They always say “It does not take much to maintain good health, use the body and keep your mind alert consciously. Let us all make small efforts every day and prioritise health without becoming paranoid.” Keeping the mind and the body fit and healthy entails regular exercise, meditation, study and contemplation,mindful eating, proper nutrition, hydration and adequate sleep. As the Mystic Yogis say “Take time out for deep practice…become more aware of body, breath and emotions.“
Physical fitness and mental health are interdependent
In today’s world where there are tough challenges at every step for any one pursuing his or her dreams. Fitness increases our chances of success. Physical fitness and mental health both contribute to overall well-being. Let us see why physical fitness is important alongside mental health:
- Boosts your Mood: Regular exercise enhances your mood and combats depression and anxiety. Physical activity stimulates the production of endorphins, known as “feel-good” hormones, which reduce stress and fosters a positive outlook towards life
- Improves Self-Esteem: Engaging in physical fitness activities can enhance self-esteem and body image. Regular exercise helps individuals feel more confident about their physical abilities, leading to improved overall self-worth and mental well-being. While challenging one’s own boundaries and pushing the bar up, one also has to practise self compassion and be conscious about the body and its needs . It is essential to be patient and gentle with oneself while striving to increase levels of difficulty. It is also necessary to practise under right guidance so that the body is not harmed.
- Reduces Stress and Anxiety: Engaging in physical activity mindfully helps reduce stress levels. by providing an outlet for pent-up tension. Exercise can act as a natural stress buster and give mental clarity and peace.
- Improves Brain Health: Exercise has been linked to improved cognitive function and enhanced brain health. It increases blood flow to the brain, promotes the growth of new brain cells, and enhances neurotransmitter function, all of which contribute to better cognitive performance and mental acuity.
- Increases Energy Levels: Regular physical activity improves cardiovascular health, increases stamina, and enhances energy levels. When you feel physically fit, you’re more likely to have the energy and motivation to engage in activities that promote mental well-being. Thus it enhances the quality of life.
- Improves quality of Sleep: Regular exercise can contribute to better sleep quality, which is crucial for maintaining mental health. Physical activity helps regulate sleep patterns, promotes relaxation, and reduces insomnia symptoms, leading to more restful and rejuvenating sleep.
- Increases Resilience: Physical fitness builds resilience and improves the ability to cope with life’s challenges. It enhances your mental and physical strength. It enhances the ability to brave new challenges and explore new horizons. It also enhances endurance and ability to withstand tough times.Regular exercise provides an opportunity to practice discipline, goal-setting, and perseverance, which can translate into mental resilience and the ability to handle stress with equanimity.
It’s important to remember that physical fitness and mental health are interconnected and both need to be given equal attention for holistic living. A balanced lifestyle requires both physical activity and mental health practices for overall well-being. The pandemic we recently braved made us realise how important it is to have a fit mind and body to combat challenges and health hazards. Engaging in activities that promote both physical and mental health helped us to stay sane and heal.