It’s been two years and a half since I’ve stepped into the yoga world, blooming from my mat and shading light on my life and that way I am trying to create for myself. Now that I am halfway through one of the best experience of my life so far, a Hot Yoga Teacher Training, I wanted to share with you all the knowledge I’ve gathered throughout my practice. Without further ado, here are the eight reasons I am in love with yoga…and for you to step on the mat!
Yoga will help improve your diet, sleep and overall health
Once your yoga practice would have become quite regular, you’ll quickly notice that your lifestyle is going to follow. Focusing on breath, yin postures as well as yang postures will realign your organism on a natural pattern; you’ll be surprised to become quite regular in your meals, in the hours you start to sleep and so on. What’s even better is that after a good sweat, noticing that your body would have changed throughout the practices, you would not want to eat improper/unhealthy food or do things that would destroy the good harmony you found. Combining bodywork as well as a mind work is a great vehicle for drastic but healthy lifestyle changes. But remember, these are what most of the people are feeling afterwards, and that might not include you; moreover, being healthy does not mean avoiding a good glass of wine, a piece if cheese or anything you like basically, it’s more of a harmony and balance. There are as many yoga as there are people on this planet!
Yoga relives stress and enable to breath better
During a good yoga practice, you will quickly notice that it is almost impossible to focus on our day-to-day lives, problems, stressful situations as well as trying to keep our mind steady and focused on the poses. And this is what we want. Staying in a long, hard and very demanding position, trying to follow instructions and trying to take inspiration from the classes will quickly help you facing a whole range of difficult situations. Even though life will challenge you way more than standing on the mat does, staying grounded and focused in uncomfortable positions will train yourself to be at your best when you need it the most. Finally, the key in yoga is the breath. You will learn, with a regular practice, that breathing correctly will bring your yoga to a whole new level; and I am telling you this because I am experiencing right now! A deep and aware breath will not only relieve unnecessary tension and stress through its effect on the nervous system, but it will also have an effect on the respiratory, digestive, cardiovascular and immune system. Activating your breathing muscles and being aware of their actions will enable you to improve your body posture, cleanse and detoxify the cells by oxygenating the body, quiet your mind and making it more alert as well as improve memory and creativity. And this is just the point of the iceberg…
Yoga helps developing a deeper awareness of our body, mind, qualities and flaws
With time, hard work and dedication, you will notice that your body changes. And your knowledge about it as well. You might start to feel tension in a certain joint or compression somewhere in the body, which would tell you not to go deeper and try to work on this. You might reach a point or make a posture you were never dreaming of achieving, which would most certainly boost your satisfaction and ego. In any case, what you will end up with is a better awareness of what your capabilities are, and how you body moves and evolves into the environment. These skills you develop might be applied in a day-to-day basis, whether this is physically or mentally speaking. And that is for me the best practical benefit of yoga.
Yoga helps keeping our body in shape, fit, flexible and strong
Yoga, and especially Hatha or Hot Yoga, includes poses and sequences that are very powerful and aimed at strengthening and opening one’s body efficiently and most importantly, safely! The only thing that is required to become more flexible, stronger and fitter is patience (and a regular practice of course).
What’s great in yoga practice is that it involves every single muscle of our body, and that all of them are going to be stretched and contracted in ways that will make them stronger, healthier and prettier. Yoga is an answer to our society’s illness, which is the body’s deterioration because of deskwork and idleness. Your entire body will get a proper wake-up call, and by combining strength, flexibility and a good sweat, you will be lean, mobile, strong and in the greatest shape ever.
Yoga is the best practice for the mind as well as for focusing on the inner self
The main reason I reinforced my practice and tried to deepen my knowledge on yoga is that it is one of the variables that helped me getting through anorexia. Having a regular practice, with its own regularity and requirements in it, as well as keeping my mind focused on my postures, alignment and breath really did the trick for me to avoid thinking about thinness, beauty, food, calories and so one. There is nothing better than meeting incredible people and having teachers that trust in you, motivate you and unconsciously help you, to feel valued and good at something. Moreover, yoga is focused on the individual and her well being, an activity where you dig further into one’s mind to discover all the beauty and capabilities within. There’s also a whole philosophy of life behind it, which may help people getting over various life issues and answering big questions that were wandering into one’s mind. And this is not something you’ve got to embrace entirely, but choose to hear and sometimes apply, as I did with a few things only.
As my favourite yoga teacher says, “Yoga is a great vehicle for inner change”. And this is where the magic is.
Yoga will make you meet incredible people & is the fountain of youth
Yoga is not a mere sport; it’s much more than that. Once one has started practising a little more, one will notice that yoga is a way of life, of thinking, of seeing others and the environment. By gathering into a room and sharing a practice as well as small-talks and coffees even, people certainly do make friends with others that share their point of views, opinions or lifestyle’s choices. The energy that is created through yoga practice brings people together and make them feel like they need to share, socialize and talk. Whether it is your yoga teacher, who could become an inspiration, or people you just met but feel like knowing for years, yoga will most certainly open your heart and make you realise the beauty in others…and I am speaking of experience here.
Surrounding yourself with people that wilfully open their bodies and minds will make you feel at ease, better, more youthful and opened to change.
Yoga heals any kind of pain and injury
You would be surprised to hear how many people come into a class, as a beginner, with injuries and pain, particularly in the knees, back or joints. And these people most certainly started yoga because they were told that it would cure them. And it does.
Using alignment, controlled movements and the breath to open our bodies without risking any injury, yoga’s most essential priority is safety. A good practice does not require for someone to push beyond the boundaries, just to trigger the edges and see where that may lead. Furthermore, there’s always a variation or modification for those who cannot do a pose or are afraid to start with the full posture, and this without preventing progress. However, yoga works just like medicine – it is great when taken with good care and awareness of one’s body, but become a poison when taken badly. Last but not least, many poses are thought to be worsening someone’s injury, though they actually are the best thing to do in such a case – the “Reclining Hero” and its amazing effects on our knees’ health is the best example of this!
Yoga promotes gender equality and is a non-competitive and non-performance orientated practice
Even though women are still the majority on the mat nowadays, men are starting to make their way into this lifestyle, and appreciate it a whole lot as I notice. Men and women benefit equally from a yoga practice. What’s even better is that there is no competition or rivalry whatsoever, because yoga is focused on the self, on someone’s own practice, challenges and mind. The beauty of it is that all these differences and various practices melt together into a powerful energy that renders every single class even more beautiful than the previous one. It makes people more compassionate, more accepting, nicer and happier; I believe these are things that are going to be needed by our future selves.