Yoga Benefits: Body, Mind, & Spirit
How I Got Introduced
My mother introduced yoga to me at the age of 15. Back then, we were living in Tehran and stayed there for one year and three months before moving back to Sweden. My mother learned yoga from her brother, my uncle, a highly insightful man whom had learned the benefits and passed them on to her.
Fast forward 18 years, to about two months ago. Meditation was a part of my morning routine but I had read somewhere that yoga is also a great preparation for meditation. Since I love everything called self-care and healing, whether its food, meditation or training I felt something within me being compelled to give it a try. However, I hadn’t worked out for over six month. That’s a long time for being me, but I had fallen off the bandwagon and wasent particularly intresstted in the gym.
Since staring small had worked to get the meditation going, I adopted the same teqnique so I could follow through. Meaning, listen to the body. Do minimal if you can’t do “more” but the most important part was to make it a daily routine. I started with six sun salutations the first week. Prior to this, I had never had arm strength to even to a push up. Every time I was going going from the “plank” looking position down to the mat, I couldn’t hold my body up with my arms and just fell down.
The three first mornings wasn’t the most enjoyable ones, but I was determinate to push through although I wasn’t executing the positions as I wanted. Setting high standards are part of my way of thinking, but with yoga I couldn’t do more than I was doing and I had to accept that was enough. For now. After day three, standing on the mat felt good. A week later I was noticing more flexibility in the body and I could for the first time now crash down on the mat. The progress was motivating. Two weeks later, yoga had become just as a natural part of my morning, just as brushing teeth.
However, the benefits of yoga has helped me tremendously. Not only from a physical standpoint but also on a emotional and mental standpoint. Sure, yoga will assist you in increased strength and flexibility but there is much more. Here’s a few things I’ve noticed the past weeks from adding 10-15 minutes of yoga every morning.
1. helps you build your sense of self.
Through yoga, you get to know yourself and cultivate a more non-judgmental relationship with yourself. You are building self-trust. You exercise more and eat healthier, because your unconscious mind tells you, “I’m worthy of this me time, this effort.” At the end of the day, everything comes down to your relationship with yourself. When you get more confident and become more rooted in your sense of self and your center, you develop a healthy, balanced ego, where you have nothing to prove and nothing to hide. You become courageous, with high willpower. You’re not afraid of difficult conversations — you know you’re still going to be OK at the end of the day.
2. Stress Relief.
Yoga reduces the physical effects of stress on the body. By encouraging relaxation, yoga helps to lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Related benefits include lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion and boostin the immune system as well as easing symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, asthma and insomnia.
3. Helps you focus.
An important component of yoga is focusing on the present. Studies have found that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores. People who practice meditation demonstrate the ability to solve problems and acquire and recall information better—probably because they’re less distracted by their thoughts, which can play over and over like an endless tape loop.
4. sleep deeper
Stimulation is good, but too much of it taxes the nervous system. Yoga can provide relief from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Restorative asana, yoga nidra (a form of guided relaxation), Savasana, pranayama, and meditation encourage pratyahara, a turning inward of the senses, which provides downtime for the nervous system. Another by-product of a regular yoga practice, studies suggest, is better sleep—which means you’ll be less tired and stressed and less likely to have accidents.
5. Increases your self-esteem
Many of us suffer from chronic low self-esteem. If you handle this negatively—take drugs, overeat, work too hard, sleep around—you may pay the price in poorer health physically, mentally, and spiritually. If you take a positive approach and practice yoga, you’ll sense, initially in brief glimpses and later in more sustained views, that you’re worthwhile or, as yogic philosophy teaches, that you are a manifestation of the Divine. If you practice regularly with an intention of self-examination and betterment—not just as a substitute for an aerobics class—you can access a different side of yourself. You’ll experience feelings of gratitude, empathy, and forgiveness, as well as a sense that you’re part of something bigger. While better health is not the goal of spirituality, it’s often a by-product, as documented by repeated scientific studies.
6. Gives you inner strength
Yoga can assist you make changes in your life. In fact, that might be its greatest strength. Tapas, the Sanskrit word for “heat,” is the fire, the discipline that fuels yoga practice and that regular practice builds. The tapas you develop can be extended to the rest of your life to overcome inertia and change dysfunctional habits. You may find that without making a particular effort to change things, you start to eat better, exercise more, or finally quit smoking after years of failed attempts.
7. Builds awareness for transformation.
Yoga and meditation build awareness. And the more aware you are, the easier it is to break free of destructive emotions like anger. Studies suggest that chronic anger and hostility are as strongly linked to heart attacks as are smoking, diabetes, and elevated cholesterol. Yoga appears to reduce anger by increasing feelings of compassion and interconnection and by calming the nervous system and the mind. It also increases your ability to step back from the drama of your own life, to remain steady in the face of bad news or unsettling events. You can still react quickly when you need to—and there’s evidence that yoga speeds reaction time—but you can take that split second to choose a more thoughtful approach, reducing suffering for yourself and others.
8. Encourages self care
In much of conventional medicine, most patients are passive recipients of care. In yoga, it’s what you do for yourself that matters. Yoga gives you the tools to help you change, and you might start to feel better the first time you try practicing. You may also notice that the more you commit to practice, the more you benefit.
This results in three things: You get involved in your own care, you discover that your involvement gives you the power to effect change, and seeing that you can effect change gives you hope. And hope itself can be healing.
9. Spiritual Benefits of Yoga.
For many, practicing yoga can take on a spiritual meaning as well. Many people say practicing yoga reinforces feelings of gratitude, awareness, and connectedness, both with your yoga classmates as well as your surroundings, your body, and your overall space in the universe.
In fact, some practitioners advocate that the biggest benefits of practicing yoga come from the deeper understanding of its purpose: the union of body, mind, and spirit.
You may find, after practicing yoga regularly for a while, that awareness of spirit and energy become more of a focus of your practice, and your practice takes on more of a spiritual quality. Devoted yogis believe in the practice because of the higher levels of consciousness that it brings, as well as the understanding that there is an underlying driving force behind everything we think and do, and the unfolding of all events in the universe.
Five weeks into my yoga practice, I have truly enjoyed unfolding the progress that each day has held. From the insights I’ve gained to the physical benefits and everything in between. Regardless if you have a spiritual perspective on this thing we call life – everyone can benefit from adopting these techniques as it truly transforms one on many layers.