I know only too well how yoga can enhance one’s life. For me personally, I experienced a better balanced mind after a session, felt that sense of community, and reaped the benefits that the physical strengthening brought with it by opening up joints thus resulting in more flexibility and less pain.
Meera Watts a yoga teacher, founder of Siddhi Yoga and a mom has shared her writings on yoga and holistic health which have appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, amongst others and here shares 7 ways practicing yoga can bring great benefits to us, both physically and mentally.
When you choose to commit to a full 30 days of yoga, you will see a significant change in your lifestyle for the better. It will become second nature for you to do the best things for yourself. You will harness a sense of self-love and nurturing. The mind will become quieter and you’ll find that the aches and pains you experience, reduce or are completely alleviated. You will begin to develop a friendship with yourself and generally, the mind, body, and soul benefits. Here are 7 ways that a dedicated yoga practice can enhance your life.
1. Experiencing More Happiness
In life, we choose to let things ‘get us down’ or not. It doesn’t matter what’s happening in our life, it’s how we deal with it that matters. Yoga promotes being openhearted which is the key to happiness. When our heart is open, we have more compassion when we might otherwise feel agitation towards another or others; we learn to love others for who they are.
Yoga teaches us to be gentle with ourself by extending #compassion to oneself, not just others; we learn to be mindful of self-compassion.
Another amazing thing about yoga, is that it works at both a physical and psychological level to reduce stress and allow us to remain openhearted. We learn to be in the present, “right now” which is where we find that appreciation for life.
2. Feeling More Relaxed
During the 30 days of yoga, we will find ourself feeling more relaxed and there are a variety of reasons for this. Yoga encourages GABA chemicals to be produced in the brain which is a natural tranquilliser that helps the body to relax after moments of the fight/flight response producing cortisol. Cortisol can wreak havoc in our body which causes that feeling of tension when we have been anxious. As a daily practice, we will find ourself constantly counteracting anxiety. The heartbeat regulates and muscles that are tense from stress, will release that tension.
When more relaxed, we will be prone to sleep better at night.
A restful sleep makes our next day more relaxed and we don’t need sugar-based foods that aid in anxiety. The cyclical benefits of yoga and its ability to relax us will greatly improve life when we are dedicated to the practice.
3. More Physically Capable
Yoga may seem like a gentle practice but we become stronger through a daily practice. When first beginning yoga, it may prove difficult to remain in the poses but after just a few days, it will become easier. For example, Plank Pose is no longer intimidating, and we can stay in Warrior Pose without our knees shaking!
Some have asked how many calories are burnt during a yoga practice and it isn’t much compared to high-intensity workouts. However…
Practicing yoga can help improve whatever high-intensity workout we participate in to burn those calories as yoga aids in building muscle mass which, in turn, eats fat.
We then have greater control over the food we eat. Also, as we go through 30 days of yoga, we then start to really understand what it is to nurture ourself. This will include the foods we eat as we are less prone to emotionally eat when life throws its challenges at us. Thus, our dedication to the practice enhances all aspects of our life, including our diet.
4. Feeling Better
With all the self-love and nurturing we experience within, we begin feeling good about ourself. Committing, and dedicating, to a 30-day challenge nurtures a passion that will begin to absorb into every other apect of our life; we notice our progress which gives us more motivation to keep going.
You are doing something just for you and that’s fulfilling.
If we feel like we’re not doing everything we can to live the best life possible, doing yoga for 30 days will turn that around. We’ll know that we are serving ourself in a good way. Yoga, in itself, makes us feel better about ourself – the poses that make us feel powerful, happy, and deeply fulfilled.
5. The Gift of Meditation
Probably one of the greatest gifts we can experience through a dedicated yoga practice is learning how to meditate properly. Corpse Pose is the last pose that is done in a yoga class. As we will lie on our back, and relax so much, it’s as though we’re a corpse. This is where we have the chance to go within ourself and learn to be the witness, or observer, of our own mind.
As we begin to quiet the mind through our intention, we can use it in our life ‘off the mat’. Whenever we start to worry, or something goes wrong, we can ‘observe’ and pay attention to what the mind is saying. The ruminating thoughts we have are the cause of all the tension we feel in our body. When we learn to master the art of mindfulness, this alleviates our emotional pain. By being mindful, we are aware and can stop being self-critical; we don’t allow ourself to worry about the future or feel sad about the past as we are in the present moment. We are living in the moments that are presented to us and with yoga, we will have the opportunity to meditate daily which is an incredible gift to have.
6. Learning to Breathe Properly
Most of us don’t breathe optimally which causes us to feel stress. When we breathe in a shallow way, we don’t get enough oxygen running through our bodies and we lose a lot of energy this way. Hence, we may find ourself feeling really tired in the middle of the workday.
When anxiety does arise, the body automatically reacts by breathing in shallow breaths.
Through yoga, we learn how to breathe more deeply through a variety of different yogic breaths. We start to use these breaths more often because we’re more conscious of how it feels. It will not only relaxes us but invigorate us as well. Learning how to breathe properly allows us to reduce any anxiety we are feeling and helps to give us energy when needed. Throughout a yoga class, you will notice that the teacher will remind you to ‘breathe’.
7. Experiencing Greater Clarity
At many times in our life, we can simply feel overwhelmed with emotional pangs that cause unclear thinking. Through yoga, and all the benefits it bestows upon us, we become clearer. We are less anxious, so don’t experience the thoughts that can overwhelm us like they may have done previously.
When a problem presents itself, we can be mindful and deal with it ‘in the moment’ based upon our best knowledge. We can centre ourself as we learned to do in our daily yoga. This allows us to see what is happening and deal with it appropriately. This improves our confidence because we know we can trust our mind and our instincts.
When you’ve completed your 30 days of yoga, you will notice many areas of your life have been enhanced. This is because you created the change with the help of yoga. Your mind, and body, work in a new way that allows you to experience greater peace and more energy. You’ll be able to do other workouts more optimally because you’ve built up strength and balance. Your mental state will have improved which may have positively changed your relationships. Through the commitment of 30 days of yoga, you’ll have improved your life in many beautiful ways.
Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of "Conscious Living by Design"™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.
Bob provides bespoke counselling services to individuals and couples in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).