In a world where sitting completely still and being alone with your thoughts is seen more like a chore than an opportunity to connect with one’s self, it’s no wonder why all of us probably need to start practising yoga.
But what is yoga, really, and why does the practise persist? Let’s find out!
What Yoga is Really About
Yoga, contrary to popular belief, isn’t just about “being zen” or pretending to sleep on your Lululemon yoga mat. It’s also hardly ever just bodily twists and turns, either. In fact, it’s actually difficult for most beginners and requires much more from both the body and mind than most people think.
Yoga has a very rich history that dates back thousands of years ago in India. Yoga, in Sanskrit, is yoke, which means uniting the individual spirit and the universal spirit of God. Yoga, along with this spiritual aspect, is designed to help you achieve a sense of serenity and peace from within. With continuous application coupled with the right intentions, mastering yoga can be a total mind-body experience that provides numerous benefits going beyond the jaw-dropping poses of today’s “Instagram yoga”.
Ultimately, yoga is a transcendental experience for anyone who opens their whole selves to the practice. It’s been around forever and people continue to do it to this day, evolving into many different forms that benefit different groups of people. No matter what form you practise, yoga offers great core benefits. Let’s dive into some of the best reasons why you should be taking yoga more seriously.
Yoga is healing
For starters, yoga is a great physical exercise that heals your mind and body. According to John Tunney’s research, a certified yoga teacher and founder of Yoga Site, yoga can help you manage specific illnesses such as arthritis, back pain, diabetes, and headaches. Stretches and different yoga movements also allow for proper blood circulation. Finally, the exercise stimulates our immune systems, improving our bodies’ overall flexibility, immunity, and strength.
Yoga can also serve as relief from other stress-related conditions such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorders. One requirement for yoga is to move to different poses while practising the right breathing techniques. Diaphragmatic breathing, commonly applied in yoga, is proven effective in controlling one’s stress responses. And because yoga is focused on centring one’s mind, you become much more in tune with your thoughts and have more control over intrusive ones. In particular, yoga can help allay thoughts that may trigger negative thinking and set you off to a downward spiral of emotional distress. Breathe in, breathe out.
In short, while yoga makes you sweat, it also makes you feel better physically and mentally.
Yoga gets you in tune with your inner self
The demands of daily life can often cause us to lose touch with who we are. We’re always glued to our screens and, more often than not, we forget to attend to our thoughts and inner selves. Going beyond the surface benefits of yoga, the practice’s original purpose is to help you unplug from the physical world so you can focus on what’s going on in your mind and body right this moment.
When you sit down to meditate in yoga, it may seem like nothing is really happening. Heck, you may even doze off from your Shavasana (i.e. corpse pose) from time to time. But, over time, when you finally allow the stillness to take over, you will learn that it is in the stillness that you can connect with your inner self, where you become fully aware of your presence and allow things to quiet down inside.
Yoga challenges you to go beyond your limitations
Like we said before, yoga isn’t as easy as it looks. You may even be tempted to give up after one session when you tell yourself, “I can’t reach my toes!” But it’s important to recognise that yoga is a journey. It takes patience to achieve the difficult postures, which may—at first glance—seem impossible to achieve. However, with dedication to the practice, yoga can help you break free from these self-imposed limitations.
“I’ll never be able to do a handstand” or “I’ll never be able to focus my mind while meditating.” These are all common initial reactions to yoga. But what’s important is to give yourself time and allow yourself to ride through the process.
Yoga transforms you
While it’s easy to strip off the spiritual aspects that make yoga “magical” or otherworldly, yoga practice has its own way of teaching us to always be present, get in tune with our inner selves, become receptive by what surrounds us, and calm our minds amidst the noise around us.
In this context, magic doesn’t mean “instantaneous healing.” Even if you don’t believe in divine consciousness or the enlightenment that yoga can bring, you can still practise yoga. However, it’s not a quick fix, nor is it a spell that magically transforms you into a calm person floating on a cloud wearing peace sign sunnies. Yoga is what you define it to be and the transformation that comes from within.
Whether you’re practising yoga to seek your divine truth or you just want to start learning how to meditate, yoga reminds us that we can make a huge impact with just the way we think and how we choose to feel. That in itself is magic. Namaste!
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