Yoga is the art of connecting your body and mind and freeing them both to listen to your inner voice. If you haven’t tried it before, it might just look like a bunch of people standing or sitting or contorting themselves – occasionally pulling weird faces or smiling for no apparent reason.
But from high-flying CEOs to movie stars, from new mums to grandmothers, you will find everyone and anyone on the mats of your local yoga studio.
And there’s a reason for that:
So why is that?
1) Yoga acknowledges all suffering is the same
This might be a gross generalization. But whether your suffering is caused by physical pain or mental depression, it wears you down in much the same sort of way. Externally, someone might say it’s different. But to you, it feels the same. Yoga will help you address that suffering no matter the source.
2) Yoga connects you to your body
A lot of the problems which people suffer from are caused by ignoring their body’s needs in today’s fast-paced world. That’s alright though. Yoga connects you to yourself.
3) Yoga is spiritual as well as physical
There’s a reason why in South America, ayahuasca retreats with yoga are so popular. They promote both a feeling of connectedness with yourself and the universe, letting you open your heart and mind in a relaxed environment.
4) Yoga helps you breathe
The always-on-the-go aspect of modern life can make you forget the most important thing of all – your breathing. Strange as it might sound, simply by breathing properly and being aware of it, you can start to give yourself the strength to tackle both physical and mental issues.
5) Yoga gets you out of your own head
Whether it’s your black dog talking in a relentless inner negative monologue or the stress of your daily working life, the balance poses of yoga help you get out of your own head and start you either concentrating on your body or detach you from it entirely.
6) Yoga boosts your concentration and decision making
In much the same way as the meditation which it so closely resembles, through proper breathing practices and giving you time to reflect and get a little clarity regarding your daily issues, yoga can increase your levels of concentration and more besides.
7) Yoga helps with sudden or ongoing stressors
From being calm and connected with yourself enough to handle sudden causes of stress and trauma to rebalancing your body during ongoing or chronic conditions you are suffering from, yoga can help with things like:
8) Yoga is a social activity
Before and after your session you’ll have the opportunity to meet all kinds of interesting people. Many yoga studios have their own little communities or are the basis of the start of many friendships.
9) Yoga comes in many forms
Hatha yoga, Iyengar yoga, Bikram yoga, Kundalini yoga, Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga… there are so many different types of yoga that everyone can find the perfect match.
10) Yoga gets you away from your daily grind
From the previously mentioned ayahuasca retreats with yoga in Brazil to others all over the world, yoga can give you a great excuse to travel to all sorts of new places.
11) Yoga is a gentle workout
Yoga is good for your body and your mind. By doing it you will strengthen your body and make it more flexible. And you know what they say:
“Healthy body; healthy mind.”
12) Yoga detaches you from your physical body
The balance poses and breathing techniques of yoga help you to acknowledge that you are more than your physical body. Many yogis report that in trying to achieve the perfect blend between effort and relaxation they feel like they are witnessing their body move more than controlling it.
13) Yoga promotes stillness of body and mind
The kaya sthairyam is the practice of body immobility. Stilling your body is the first step to stilling your mind.
14) Yoga opens you to new feelings
You will almost certainly find that your still body and stiller mind will be open to new feelings. Inspiration is common, as are happiness and joy.
15) Yoga starts you on the path to your dreams
Your new feelings can often serve to reconnect you with ideas and dreams long forgotten, or help you come to realize the important things in your current life.
16) Yoga lets you feel the energy running through your body
When you get more experienced as a yogi, you will begin to be able to feel a delicious tingling which starts at your fingers and toes. This is referred to as the samsara, or life energy.
17) Yoga makes you light and free
It might be the fact that your body is stronger and more flexible, less likely to suffer from aches and pains. It might be the fact that you spend time in gentle meditation where you used to spend it stressing out about the latest problem in your life…
But it also might be the fact that yoga encourages you to stop perceiving your body as a heavy, solid object being pushed around and more as a channel through which the energy of the universe is transmitted to you. All you need to do is open yourself and accept it. Then, yoga heals.