Most people who actually benefit from Yoga are those who practice, and continue to practice. Often times beginners try Yoga once and never again. They do not see how doing stretches or putting their body in uncomfortable poses helps their life. Here are 5 reasons why us Yoga lovers love the practice:
1. Yoga Relaxes:
When you practice yoga, your full attention is required. The practice allows you to detach from your long, hard day and turn in. For an hour or so, your practice requires you to be in the present moment. Most of the day, we are busy working, or making plans, or thinking about where we need to go, what we need to do… During this hour or so, your mind must focus and detach from all those things that you did or have to do because in order to do any pose, or listen to the instructor’s direction, you need to pay attention. By leaving your work load behind or skipping through your thoughts about your “must do’s,” for that hour, you are clearing your mind. When your mind is clear, you can better reflect on the past, plan your future, and enjoy your present moment.
2. Yoga Strengthens the Body:
Yoga is workout – Of The Mind! There is no doubt that Yoga postures and poses strengthen your muscles and help you lose weight and manage cellulite. It also depends on how often you practice (on and off your mat). Practicing on a regular basis will strengthen those more than others. Yoga allows you to learn about your own body. Which poses can you do? Which poses do you like or dislike? It teaches you your physical limitations, physical capabilities, and physical preferences. How can you strengthen your body without first learning about your very own first? By practicing, you are able to find out if you are a back-bender, arm balancer, or both! I can tell you, I never considered myself flexible before I began to practice Yoga. Over time, I discovered that I am much more flexible than I thought (in my body and my mind)! Being flexible and open in the mind, allows you to be flexible and open in your body. Try it, you have everything to gain.
3. Yoga Strengthens the Mind:
Simple- “Healthy Body = Healthy Mind.” Yoga offers us the tools that help us think clearly. You say, “How can going upside down help me clear my mind?” Well, actually, going upside down reverses your blood flow to your brain which washes out the old and pumps the new and fresh. Besides that, the practice of Yoga (asana) has everything to take with you off your mat. For example, as you practice, one goal is to keep your body engaged, yet soft. We call this Sthira-Sukha. (Sthira – Firm and Alert) and (Sukha- Ease and without Tension). Sound like a piece of cake? Think again. Our practice helps us to find this balance because by finding this balance, we can advance our practice. Otherwise, poses simply remain poses. Think about how this could benefit life outside your mat. In your workplace, employers favor those who have the ability to lead, be strong and firm, speak up, be quick (qualities that Sthira brings) BUT- they also need those who remain calm during crisis, have problem-solving abilities, are polite, communicate well with others (qualities that Sukha brings). Wouldn’t having both benefit you in your work place? Absolutely.
4. Yoga Teaches you to Prevent:
Not only does Yoga help you reflect and sort out all of your issues (even the ones you did not realize you had), but it also helps you to prevent future problems in your life. Yoga enhances your thinking skills. Sometimes, we like to do things over and over again and hope or expect a different result each time (definition of insanity). I know that I am guilty of it as well! Yoga practice is that little light bulb that pops in your head and tells you, “hey, maybe I should try something different since this clearly is not working.” So, you may ask, “how can doing a yoga pose possibly help me with this!?” Here is why: Since the poses teach you about your body, they also teach you how far you can go or if perhaps you have gone too far. If your body does not feel good in a pose or causes you pain, you are asked to COME OUT and try a different or modified pose that is better for your body. See the connection? A lot of times these concepts are not even noticed. We begin to say, “Yoga feels good, puts me in a better mood, changed my life.. etc” It is because as we begin to practice, we begin to recognize the things that are getting in our way and we recognize them more quickly than before, then by having a clear mind, we take action. Over time, this becomes a prevention tool.
5. Yoga Changes Old Habits:
You know those bad habits you have and find a very hard time stepping away from them? Well, here is where Yoga can help you in that area of your life. Yoga practice makes you recognize all sorts of things about yourself that you did not know. Simply because, as mentioned before, it requires your full attention. Once you learn about yourself, you recognize your habits (the good and bad ones). As you may know, the first step in changing anything is recognizing the problem. In this case, recognizing your bad habits. Sometimes we are not fully aware of our habits. So how can we change them if we do not even know we have them? By practicing Yoga, we learn about our body, preferences, and our health. Naturally, paying close attention to ourselves is like studying our own self and seeing ourself through the eyes of the world outside of us. This is not so easy to do, especially if we are so caught up in our stressful and busy lives. As we practice over time, we become extremely sensitive to notice everything about ourselves and that is when we clearly recognize our habits. To go into more depth, we begin to recognize how we could possibly make our habits better or shift things in other areas to help balance out the things that we cannot change. For example, excessive smokers or drinkers who wish they could stop their habits may find it almost impossible to let go. Working with your body, over time teaches the concept of “letting go of that which does not serve me.” Over time, with practice and most importantly commitment, change will come and it will come naturally.