Why should You practice Yoga?
Commonly, yoga is defined as “an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility, and breathing to boost physical and mental wellbeing. The main components of yoga are postures (a series of movements designed to increase strength and flexibility) and breathing” (NHS, https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/guide-to-yoga/).
And I would partly agree (for about ⅛ part) that yoga is an asana or posture practice. Plus, about 7 other practices like ethical principles, self-observation, breath control, concentration, sense withdrawal, meditation, and a state of joy and peace called Samadhi. Samadhi is the state of realising the pure essence of all that exists. This is the quoted state of universal love in many re-shareable social media posts that you might have seen. Yogis believe that through practicing all aspects of yoga, you could reach a state of being connected with the universe and God no matter what is your religion. This realisation is the state of pure joy, love, and peace that comes from within.
So how this applies to you and why should you bother about yoga at all?
In the times of ever-growing prices, the never-ending race for success, and ever-changing fashion trends of almost anything, yoga has a lot to offer for your wellbeing, health, lasting sense of happiness, belonging, peace, and love.
There are more and more researches done on the benefits of yoga. All you need to do is to practice it.
Yoga helps in managing stress and emotions. Through practice, breathing techniques, and meditation you calm your nervous system, you get more in touch with your emotions. With practice, you learn how to become less reactive to the outer world. For example, in the situation of a dreaded deadline, presentation, traffic jam, a difficult conversation your inner feeling of peace and contempt won’t be impacted.
Yoga helps to slow down mental loops of frustration, regret, anger, and fear that all can create stress in your life. And as you might have heard, excessive stress is linked to health issues from migraines to autoimmune conditions and heart attacks.
Yoga cultivates self-awareness helping you discover and understand the sense of purpose. In plain words, you will be able to learn about yourself, discovering how you fit in the bigger puzzle of this world. Knowing your life has a bigger meaning or a purpose will give you a sense of belonging to something beyond you and your everyday life.
Finding a balance of being active and rest will add to your wellbeing. In yoga, you learn both, the one focused work of actively engaging muscles to hold postures or asanas and precision that it takes to execute it as well as the ability to soften, surrender, and to let go of what’s not needed in the given moment. Regular yoga practice leads to better and more restful sleep which means you will feel calmer being able to focus and manage your day better.
Yoga helps to build physical and mental strength, stamina, and flexibility. During yoga practice you workout physically at the same as mentally and emotionally. Body-wise practicing asanas help to correct posture, alleviate joint and back pains protecting them. Practicing asanas increases the flow of blood and lymph supporting the health of your internal organs and strong immune system.
Yoga can help you to stay healthy and alleviate existing health conditions. In people with diabetes, yoga has been found to lower blood sugar. Similarly, in people with hypertension, it has shown lowering blood pressure. Also, yoga has been found to prevent digestive tract issues like constipation, ulcers, and Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Practicing yoga helps regulate adrenal glands that are responsible for secreting cortisol in response to acute crises. However, nowadays for many cortisol levels stay high throughout the day and compromise the immune system. Also, an excessive amount of cortisol has been linked with depression, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis as it extracts calcium and other minerals from bones and interferes with laying down new bone.
Self-development & Self-realisation
Change is the only constant thing in life. And through yoga, you can be an active participant steering it. Yoga gives you the tools to take care of yourself. After the first practice session, you might start feeling better or experience a general good feeling. In this way, you could get involved in your own self-care and might discover that being involved in this process makes you feel the power of effecting change. It could result in feeling confident, in control, and hopeful about the direction your life is taking.
Transformation is a big word that has become trendy and catchy these days. However, the reality of it is less glamorous and takes time. More specifically, the realization of how your views, habits, and life have transformed can happen only in retrospect. It’s after you have been getting involved in the change for some time, you can compare your ‘old life’ to the way it is now. Yoga offers you tools to transform your life and learn how to deal with frustration and grief in the process of change and transformation.
In nature, you can witness a continuous process of seasons changing. Winter is a quiet period of preparation and preserving when processes happen beneath the visible surface. In spring you can see things sprouting and growing. In summer you can witness the joy of blooming as a result of growth. And then in autumn, you get to harvest all the fruits just to witness nature to go back to the winter of preserving and preparing to start the cycle again. In the same way, you can see the process of change and transformation from preparation to the realisation that something has been transformed, just to witness the other aspect of your life go through change and transformation. And maybe in the process of transformation, you will experience the state of Samadhi the pure joy and love of being connected to nature, all that exists, and God.
In the comments below, let me know one way how practicing yoga could benefit your life OR share how yoga has improved your life already.
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