Most people who have immersed into a diligent daily yoga practice claim to have made some pretty incredible shifts on both a mental and physical level. So what actually happens when you start to practice yoga REGULARLY, assuming you are learning from a qualified teacher who will ensure you are practicing correctly and safely? Here are some of the most common benefits yoga practitioners experience:
1. Creating new neuromuscular patterns: Our muscles and nervous system are closely related. In fact it’s through the nervous system that the brain sends the message to the muscles to do a certain activity. Stress causes the body to tense up, become inflamed and jittery and our mind to be overactive. If we live under stress without doing anything constructive about it, and our dysfunctional actions and reactions are repeated, neuromuscular conditionings occur. Your stiff back, edgy mood, tension in the body, headaches, lack of energy etc can basically become who you are. With regular and correct yoga practice, we can create new neuromuscular patterns which support our wellbeing and health. Therefore, it is often said that yoga is above all, about UNDOING unhealthy physical and mental patterns.
2. Healthier eating habits: If you’ve been struggling with fad diets for years and you still can’t stabilize your weight, yoga is the way to go. This doesn’t mean that other forms of exercise aren’t beneficial as well, but with a daily yoga practice, an intuitive bond is created between your body, emotions and what you eat. The vicious cycle of binging / food deprivations transforms into an intuitive understanding of what type of food gives you energy and the right nutrients and which foods are not complementary to your mental and physical health. Every person is unique, so being in tune with your own body and what it needs , can prevent or reduce various symptoms.
3. Developing a more detached attitude : We live in a fast paced world, where competition and stress can make us and break us. The life on a hamster wheel sooner or later takes a toll on our health and mental stability. If we don’t get what we want, we suffer. The old Yiddish saying ” Man plans, God laughs” is a good reflection of how not all that we plan to accomplish will always come to fruition as we’ve planned. Did your life turn out exactly how you planned it 20 or 30 years ago? Probably not. Which is not to say we shouldn’t work on our goals or that some of them won’t be accomplished. Rather than, it is about not getting upset when things don’t turn out quite as we’ve planned. It is about going with the flow even at times when it seems our world is falling apart.
4. Building willpower, patience & perseverance – Yoga is not easy. It takes years to even begin understanding what the practice is about and many are put off from the path of yoga due to its repetitive nature and gradual progress. Some poses will come easy and some may take 10 years or more to master. Again for every person, depending on their physical predisposition and constitution, the process will be different. But if you stick with it, you will , as mentioned previously, be able to get past your own physical and mental patterns. Laziness, giving up, clinging on, avoidance, ego battles all show up on your mat at some point of your practice.
5. Becoming more centered – Life has a way of throwing us off balance and it would be impossible to even imagine a life with no challenges. The yoga mat holds a space for you to clear up your thoughts, let go of stressful events or simply give yourself a chance to observe them without judgement.
6. Feeling empowered as a person: A strong mind in a strong body. Our feet connect us to the ground. Our pelvis is in control of our gravity. Our posture and spine health boost our vital energy. The muscular strength you gain through regular practice, the ability to balance and use energy locks in your body, builds integrity, confidence and stability on a both a physical and mental level.
If you feel like getting started with your yoga practice, maybe you’ll be interested in my online yoga classes.