The word “yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit root “yuj” which means “to yoke” or “to unite.”
This refers to the uniting of universal consciousness with that of individual consciousness.
Yoga truly is for the body, mind, and spirit. When these are all in harmony, magic happens!
It is a common misconception that yoga is just poses, or “asanas.” In fact, Asana is just 1 of the 8 Limbs of Yoga. Yes, there are 8 Limbs! But that’s another post for another day. 😉
My point is: Yoga is so much more than physical postures. Yoga as a whole, with all its 8 Limbs combined, is deeply beneficial for the entire being: Body, Mind, and Spirit.
“Yoga is not a work-out, it’s a work-in.”
Here’s my take on how anyone can benefit from a regular yoga practice:
1. Physical Wеllnеѕѕ
Physical wellness may be the most common reason people practice yoga in Western countries. At the very least, it’s often the reason people try it at all.
So what happens to your body with a regular yoga asana practice?
You gain the innumerable the benefits of cardio. You gain flexibility. Your balance and strength improve. Your bones, muscles, and joints become stronger.
You gain a deeper awareness of your breathing and the breath’s health benefits. These benefits include detoxification and oxygenation of the body, as well as decreasing cortisol (the stress hormone).
2. Innеr Peace
Wealthy, modern humans pay thousands of dollars to travel to exotic, remote places to get a taste of peace… Littlе dо they know: Pеасе is always attainable within them, no matter the backdrop.
A yoga practice cultivates inner peace as it untangles the knots of chaos in our minds by bringing attention to the breath and, therefore, the present moment.
There is a saying:
“Thinking about the past makes us depressed,
and thinking about the future makes us anxious.”
The past is memory. The future is imagination.
Yoga is a continuous dance with the breath.
When the mind is focused on the breath, it is focused on the present moment (which is all there truly is).
3. Strеѕѕ Reduction
A yoga practice a day keeps the stress away. (…Too corny?)
Yoga relaxes the mind and body, and the postures get a body moving the way it is meant to move. There is very little opportunity for deep stretching and movement in a modern lifestyle.
Feeling achy and tense contributes to stress in the mind. The movements and postures of yoga relieve pain and tension in the body.
Deep breathing elicits a relaxation response. This replaces the “fight or flight” mindset many of us constantly live in. Loud, everyday noises like car horns literally put our bodies into a stress response.
A yoga practice teaches us how to be calmer and more centered amidst chaos. It is an escape from daily stressors.
4. Mental & Spiritual Wеllnеѕѕ
You gain a calmer state of mind and an increased ability to be in the present moment.
Some may go on to attain a higher state of consciousness in their practice, even if only for a fleeting moment. This opens up opportunities for spiritual growth.
Then, all of this will likely lead to better sleep quality and more mindful eating habits, which benefits the health for obvious reasons.
But wait, there’s more!
If you practice regularly at a studio, being a part of a community, a natural human need, has its own benefits too. A community opens doors to new, meaningful connections and provides us with a sense of safety and security.
5. Improved Relationships
This one’s short and to-the-point:
If yoga chills you out and makes you feel better physically, mentally, and/or spiritually, your relationships naturally benefit: You will be more present, more secure, more loving.
If you’re reading this post, you may be brand new to the world of yoga and want to begin a physical practice.
If you want to try a yoga class or video, please give it a chance. Actually, please give it several chances, with different instructors and different styles. You’ll find your own sweet spot, I am sure of it!
Many people think they need to be skinny and flexible to do yoga. WRONG.
If you have physical limitations, you can still practice the postures of yoga, or variations of them.
There are classes dedicated to teaching students with limitations and disabilities.
There are beginner-friendly modifications for any pose.
Virtually anyone can practice yoga.
And maybe one day you’ll be able to do that asana in its “fullest expression”…or maybe you won’t: Everyone’s anatomy and history is different, and that’s perfectly divine.
Yoga is called a “practice” for a reason.
Yoga is not about showing off. It’s about showing up.
It’s about connecting with yourself and with Source energy: with Love.
What matters in a yoga class is that:
1) You always stay within your physical limitations and
2) You strive to continuously be mindful of your breath.
It can really be that simple.
A huge thank you to India for creating this practice and keeping it alive for thousands of years, despite many tribulations.
And thank you for reading.
With love & gratitude,
✨ Comment below: How has yoga improved your body, mind, and/or spirit?
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