Today’s world is slowly transcending towards a new definition of success. In an era of terrorism, economic discourse, and now the dreaded Corona pandemic, materialism is losing its credibility as a yardstick of achievement. Instead, “happiness” seems to be the new trendy measure of the same. People have begun to realize that life is much more than those posh apartments and luxury cars. It has become pertinent to be able to find happiness and content in everything we do, instead of money and fame. Even science is catching up with these ideas, and psychologists around the world are doing research on a new concept of “psychological flexibility.”
Psychological flexibility means contacting the present moment fully as a conscious human being and based on what the situation demands, changing, or persisting in behavior in the service chosen values. It means holding and taking the emotions and thoughts a bit lightly and acting on long term values rather than short term impulses, thoughts, and feelings. The primary reason behind the same is that emotions tend to be transient in nature, and we have little control over them. These impulses and thoughts are not credible or reliable indicators of long term values.
It lacks the concept of sustained patterns of action that bring true meaning, vitality, and richness to lives. Psychological flexibility is the extent to which a person can adapt to fluctuating situational demands and reconfigures mental resources to balance the competing desires, needs, and life domains. A higher quotient of psychological flexibility helps people to stay calm and increase their cognitive and analytical ability, which, in turn, improves their overall productivity. It enables people to focus and engage fully in what they are doing rather then getting pushed around by their thoughts and feelings and commit to doing what works more often.
Methods to Increase Psychological Flexibility
There are no set of rules or handbook to increase psychological flexibility. However, here is a list of a few of the ways which tend to work.
- Developing our levels of awareness into noticing our thoughts and emotion, especially the challenges ones, is perhaps the most important thing to do. It is wrong on people’s part to suppress or avoid difficult emotions. This leads to an intense level of distress. But if the emotions are identified and accepted by the people and being named, it will help people to become more aware and aware of the feeling which crops up frequently and thus helps to deal with challenging circumstances better.
- It is important to befriend the emotions, even though they are uncomfortable or harsh. This can help in gaining a wider perspective as to how to deal with situations and remind ourselves of what is truly important to us and what we are aiming to achieve.
- Developing mindfulness or any form of reflective practice that can be helping to train the mind in accepting difficult and muddled emotions so as to develop a strong balance of the body and mind.
Yoga for Psychological flexibility
Anxiety and stress can be detrimental to mental health and can take a serious toll on the same. They can be life-limiting at times. Anxiety is known to distort human thoughts and can also have many grave ramifications. It knows to color the human perspective of life and self. In short, psychological flexibility tends to diminish amidst stress and anxiety. This is where Yoga for mindfulness comes into the picture. Mindful meditation or Yoga for mindfulness is a systematic procedure of mental training that propels to slow down negative racing thoughts, detach from negativity and toxicity of mind and instill a sense of complete awareness of the present. It also advocates being mindful of where we are and be oblivious to everything around us. This technique of meditation usually involves breathing practices, mental imagery, awareness of mind, muscle relaxation, etc. Mindful meditation is not a formal practice of poses and movements; instead, it is a way of thinking, feeling, and behaving. Just like physical flexibility, Yoga for mindfulness increases psychological flexibility and helps the mind to overcome those pessimistic and cynical thoughts.
Yoga Poses for Mindfulness
The Corpse Pose (Savasana)
This poses traces its roots from the ancient times of Lord Buddha. It is one of the four main meditation poses taught by Gautama himself. Savasana requires us to lie on the back with feet about 12-18 inches apart and arms side just a few inches from the torso, with palms facing up. It allows the body to surrender to gravity. It is an essential yoga for mindfulness asana, as it brings in the sense of tranquillity and calmness within the body. Psychological flexibility is consequently enhanced by this pose.
The Eye of the Needle Pose:
It is an exceptional yoga pose, which promotes psychological flexibility and observes how the sensations change as we maintain the pose. It is also an extension of the Corpse pose. Here we bring our feet near to our buttocks, hip-width apart. Place the outer right shin on the left thigh, drawing the left knee toward our chest. We then reach between our legs, clapping our hands under our left leg. There may be stretching sensations in the right hip, and we may feel some resistance from them. We will continue to do the same on the other side and try to find the difference between each side without judgment.
The Cat-Cow Pose:
Cat-Cow Pose is a gentle ‘yoga for mindfulness’ asanas for easy flow between two poses that warms the body and brings flexibility to the spine. You are required to start on your hands and knees with wrists directly under your shoulders and hips directly under the hip. Center your head in a neutral position and soften your gaze downward. For the Cow Pose, inhale as you drop the belly towards the Yoga Mat. Lift your chin and chest and gaze up towards the ceiling. Next for the Cat Pose, as you exhale, draw your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. The pose should look like a cat stretching its back. Make sure the transition between the two poses is seamless.
The Downward Facing Dog Pose.
This pose is directed towards cultivating awareness (as it is an important part of psychological flexibility), in which, directly from the cat-cow pose, we should tuck our toes under, lifting our hips and straightening our legs. Stay in the pose for 15- 20 breadths. Notice if the mind wanders and tries to bring it back to the breaths. Moment by moment and breath by breath, the posture will recreate itself, which in turn, helps in promoting mindfulness.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana):
An ideal warm-up pose activates the core of the body and improves blood circulation. In this position, you need to stand on your feet flat, keeping the spine erect and facing the palm towards the body. While inhaling, try lifting the ankles and standing on the toes with the eyes facing the ceiling. Repeat the asana at least ten times. Tadasana is known to help the mind to develop an openness to imbibe the rolling emotions, thus enhancing psychological flexibility.
Half Moon Pose( Ardha Chandrasana)
The moon has a rich symbolic significance in yoga mythology, which is considered as an embodiment of serenity and calmness. Ardha Chandrasana has proven to be effective in cooling down the distressed and unstable mind, bringing in the sense of rejuvenation and energy. It exhibits calm and soothing energies, which help in improving Co-ordination and sense of balance. It opens up the body, encouraging better posture and improved self-esteem, which is a pre-condition for psychological flexibility.
Halasana Pose( Plow Pose)
This asana has proven to be very effective in calming the nervous system reducing stress and fatigue, thus helping in relieving stress and relaxation of mind. It is also said to stimulate the thyroid gland, improving mood & energy levels. It is highly recommendable for people who are suffering from the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)
It is an amalgamation of twelve yoga positions, each having a major impact on the body. The forward and backward bends allow stretches, while the deep breathing performed, detoxifies the entire body. It provides a sense of sense and living at the moment and thus providing for mindfulness to be instilled in our minds. This is an effective yoga for mindfulness pose, which can effectively enhance psychological flexibility.
Vrikshasana ( Tree Pose)
It is a classic ‘Yoga for mindfulness’ pose, which is primarily concerned with finding a balance between mind and body. In this pose, you are required to keep the left foot on the right leg straight and find the balance. While inhaling, raise your palms to your head and bring them together. This gives a sense of grounding.
Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)
It is a great posture for beginners and is a great way to help alleviate anxiety and depression. By tilting the body equally, distributing the energy flow, the body tends to get calmer and more balanced. Anxiety narrows our thoughts and interpretation of events and makes us believe that everything is about us. So this Yoga for mindfulness pose helps the mind to abstain from anxiety and help to broaden the perspective of life.
Yoga and meditation require relentless practice and manoeuvre to attain the desire results. These are highly effective in improving psychological flexibility. To nourish and enrich your minds by embarking on this exquisite path of self-development and self-love.
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