For many people, the physical aspect of yoga is what first draws them to the mat. They are looking for an alternative way to get fit, and understand that the benefits of yoga will help them to build upon their existing strength and flexibility.
Once a person has taken the first step and taken to the mat for a lesson, then they will likely very quickly understand the mental health benefits in addition to the physical challenge.
The most exciting and important benefits of yoga will likely vary depending on who you ask, however, the truth is that this spiritual practice is great in many ways for your body, your mind, and your spirit! There is no one part of you that solely benefits from engaging in yoga, and your entire self will benefit when you make it a regular feature in your life.
When you are working to improve your psychological well-being, it is important to take a varied approach, and also to understand that there is no quick fix. You must give yourself the time to change slowly, and to enjoy this process as it unfolds.
You may have noticed that more and more conventional health providers, such as hospitals and rehabilitation clinics, have been introducing yoga over the past few years. Healthcare professionals who may have disregarded the mental health aspects of yoga in the past are increasingly understanding the benefits, and encouraging their patients to do so also.
So, what are the different ways that yoga can help your body, mind, and spirit?
Compassion is something that you should always practice towards yourself and to other people. When you practice yoga regularly you will be encouraged to spend time reflecting on the self and the world around you. This can help you to let go of the judgements that you hold against yourself, as well as the judgements that you make about other people.
When you reach this point you can extend compassion to others with greater ease, and also understand that it is something that you must give to yourself in abundance.
If you are going to progress with your yoga practice, then you must commit to doing so in a consistent way. When you embrace this commitment, and follow through with it, then you will be demonstrating self-love towards yourself. You have understood the benefit of doing something for yourself, and you are making the effort to continue with it!
During a yoga session you will be encouraged to give your attention to your breathing. This is not only something that you will do as you work through the physical poses, but also in moments of meditation.
As you give your focus entirely to your breath you will find it easier to tune into the present moment, and be more aware of yourself. This is a skill that can take some time to master, but once you begin to practice yoga in a more mindful way, then you will begin to live in a more mindful way also.
Living a more mindful life can help you to be more aware and appreciative of the positive parts of your life, and to give less time and attention to the negatives. It can help you to enjoy the small pleasures in life, and to pay more attention to beauty that surrounds you.
Anxiety & Stress
When you are practicing yoga you will be naturally activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is a part of the autonomic nervous system. This sounds complicated! But, it essentially means that your heart rate decreases and your blood pressure lowers – leading to an enhanced sense of calm and lesser feelings of anxiety.
When the parasympathetic nervous system stays active, you will begin to feel peaceful and relaxed. This helps to reset your mind from any negativity or invasive feelings of anxiety.
Keeping your stress levels down is essential if you are to maintain a sense of balance in your life. Heightened stress for prolonged periods of time is not only obviously unpleasant, but can actually wreak havoc on your health and well-being!
During a yoga class you will be actively encouraged to deal with the sources of your stress in your life. You will learn how to be calm, be still, and be present in each and every moment.
Your sleep cycle is one of the most important parts of your overall health. To put it simply, if you're not sleeping well then you're not going to live well!
The potential that yoga has to improve your sleep cycle is largely thanks to the aforementioned point on how well it can reduce your stress levels.
Stress is one of the most prominent things keeping us awake at night, and finding ways to alleviate it can go a long way to protecting your body, mind, and spirit!
It can take a long time to get your priorities straight in life. However, once you finally reach this point, you will see that your own happiness is at the top of this list!
Practicing yoga gives you the time and the tools to truly check in with yourself and to understand what it is you need in order to be happy. The intentions that you set on the mat will follow you out into the rest of your life, and can help you to more consistently see the bigger picture.
Discovering a fresh perspective by taking a step back and surrendering all thoughts of the the ego, is something that happens naturally when you practice yoga.
The meditative aspect of yoga helps to build patience and to develop emotional strength of mind. It teaches that there is much to be gained when we channel our emotional energy and embrace stillness. This stillness is exactly what we need to hold on to in moments of negativity and distress.
Furthermore, mastering the physical poses will not only help to build physical strength and to tone the body, but also ties in with the concept of emotional strength. We must push ourselves to progress with deepening the poses, and holding them for longer periods of time, and this is as much a challenge of the mind as it is a challenge of the body.
Getting along to a yoga class is a great way to develop your sense of community and belonging. The journey through a class from start to finish can be a magical experience, as you all support and encourage each other through the physical poses and bond through the spiritual and emotional work.
When you are practicing yoga, it is normal to expect that you will start to feel a deeper gratitude for your body, your life, and those around you. You will be encouraged to express this gratitude in more visible and deliberate ways, and in doing so you will naturally invite greater abundance into your life.
As your practice progresses, and you embrace all that goes hand in hand with it, your purpose in all that you do can feel greater and more real.