How Yoga Can Change Your Life
By Robyn Dos Santos
If you’ve been contemplating a yoga practice, consider the following findings. Among the myriad benefits of a regular yoga practice are:
• Improved balance, strength, and flexibility
• Reduction of weight and body fat
• Stress reduction
• Increased bone mass and bone strength
• Improved cardiovascular conditioning
• Prevention of injuries
• Restore vitality and youthfulness
• Assist in psychological well-being
• Promote digestion
• Aid in spiritual connectedness
• Increase respiratory capacity and efficacy
• Improve joint motility
This is not a complete list. Many yoga practitioners report significant reversals in chronic conditions as well as improved function in all areas of life. Some people who found little or no relief from traditional approaches to health and healing have found that yoga offered real and lasting improvement. Additionally, the scientific and medical communities are now recognizing yoga’s unique positioning as a health and wellness prescription. Hundreds of random controlled studies (RCT’s) have been conducted that prove yoga’s benefits. And more are being done for a variety of conditions including neurodegenerative disorders and autoimmune conditions.
How it works
Yoga treats the body and the mind as one, integrated whole. Coming to a yoga practice to increase flexibility in your joints just might evolve into learning to breathe more completely, more effectively. The emphasis on stretching the body during yoga relieves tension, soreness, and sluggishness. Increased flexibility brings improvements in posture and virtually all movement activities. Holding the poses strengthens muscle, bones, and joints.
Breathing is often a key component to practicing yoga. Since, we are always breathing, learning to expand on the energy of the breath will improve overall health and wellness, while reducing the effects of stress. This breath awareness, which can be done one minute at a time, can lead to a sense of stillness, of letting go to the peaceful, undisturbed part of the mind. Yoga’s mental and psychological benefits arise from this place, of creating new ways of thinking and doing. Over time, this process of thought renewal can assist in working towards behavior changes (changing old habits, looking at everyday situations in a more objective way).
With its’ skillful and mindful approach to delivery, yoga can be tailored to meet the needs of anyone. Yes, anyone can practice yoga. And they do. Whether you are currently healthy, recovering from illness or injury, young, old, overweight or not, the components of yoga will meet you exactly where you are at this current moment in time. In fact, that presence, and an acceptance of the state of the body and the mind is a powerful tool of yoga. While working with the physical poses of yoga (the asanas), all thought is on feeling the sensations within the body. This asks that the mind take time off from the regular, habitual thought patterns and allow for a sense of freedom, of openness to possibilities. (in yoga, this is often referred to as “A beginner’s mind”, sometimes the best place to be!)
Yoga is a path, a journey. Staying on the path, devoting some time, and having faith can take you far.