This post about the benefits of yoga is by Rachel from the Capricious Yogi.
When Jodi asked me to write an article about the benefits of yoga, I thought…”sure, that’s easy, no problem!” But as I started to consider what I wanted to say, I found myself flooded with reasons why someone should begin a yoga practice—so much so that I could go on for days!
From the numerous health benefits associated with the physical practice (asana) and breathing exercises (pranayama), to the mental and spiritual boost you receive from self-study (svadhyaya) and meditation (dhyana), I have found that practicing yoga is the most comprehensive system for overall body, mind and spiritual health. The really glorious thing about the yoga practice is that there are so many styles, traditions, and spaces offering yoga today, that anyone can find the right practice for them.
My own practice started as a way to fine tune my acting chops. While studying at school, I found that the physical practice allowed me to be so present in my body that I could be “in the moment” with any character thus making my performance more believable. Additionally, my yoga practice has helped me to create awareness around my own personal health, giving me the tools I need to manage my ulcerative colitis, a condition I have lived with since the age of 14. Not to mention the numerous life events I have experienced including job changes, divorce, loss of a parent, financial ups and downs, and all various other growing up tidbits. Through it all, my practice has been the constant keeping me grounded and stable as I weather the sometimes turbulent seas of life.
Benefits of Yoga
Here are my top five reasons to start a yoga practice today.
Let’s Get Physical
A no-brainer. Whether you take super slow and restorative approach to your practice or you choose to rev it up with a vigorous Vinyasa, just getting the body to move is a good thing. As a society, we are so stuck…in front of our computers and TVs, in our cars commuting to work, in our relationships to each other and to ourselves, and in our minds. Our bodies were not designed to sit around all day. Rather, they were made for moving and shaking! Getting up and out allows your body to rejuvenate itself naturally, helping to relieve tension and release feel good hormones like endorphins, which ultimately leaves you happy and feeling good.
Learn to Breathe
Oh the breath. As infants we breathe with our whole bodies. It’s only as we grow and move through life that we unlearn the natural flow of breath, restricting, restraining, and even imprisoning our life force (prana) within our bodies. Any yoga practice, regardless of the tradition, will you teach you that essential breath, beginning at the diaphragm. Once you have learned to breathe again, you can learn to control the mind when it releases into depression, anxiety and fear. The breath is the key to eliminating stress in your life and becoming more fully alive, here and now.
Why be present? I ask you, why be anywhere else? Finding yourself in the present moment gives great perspective on this journey we call life. A situation that once seemed like the end of the world now becomes small potatoes. You learn to navigate your days with ease and grace, rather than frustration and angst. You become happier, less stressed and dare I say, more appreciative of yourself and the world around you.
Whether you know it or not, mindfulness and awareness are concepts that begin the first time you step on your mat. As you pay attention to the breath and subtle sensations in the body, you create awareness around that experience which allows you to explore the depths of your own being. Heavy stuff? Not really. As you practice, it happens naturally. The awareness you cultivate in your practice eventually comes with you off your mat and into your every day interactions aiding you in making healthier and wiser choices from the food you eat to the people you hang out with.
What could be better than finding a group of people that enjoy the same things as you do, strive for personal wellness, and care about the world around them? My own yoga community (satsang) has been pivotal in getting through the good times and the bad times. I know that if I show up at class there will be at least one friendly face and someone who is happy to see me. Contrary to popular belief, we may feel more connected through technology and social media, but in reality we aren’t. We are social beings by nature. Going to class, making new friends, and connecting with others helps us to grow and feel fulfilled.
There are so many wonderful reasons to start practicing yoga today and while they may not be immediate, the benefits are innumerable. But, you don’t have to take my word for it. Yoga is all about the experience. Get out and try it for yourself. You may just be surprised at what you discover.
What other benefits of yoga, do you want to add?
Rachel Wallmuller, RYT is a yoga teacher that loves learning, creating and exploring the world through yoga. She chronicles her ups, downs and all arounds, on her blog CapriciousYogi.com. Find her on Facebook: Capricious Yogi. Or Twitter: @CapriciousYogi
I was introduced to Rachel’s blog several months ago when I was researching my post Om Namah Shivaya. I’ve read and loved every one of her posts since then! Love, Jodi