Yoga is frequently promoted as a form of exercise that will make you strong, flexible, age gracefully, improve your balance, and reduce stress. All of this is true, but I’ve discovered the deeper benefits have the most impact. With more than seven years of experience as a teacher, I’ve discovered that the deepest yoga’s Health Benefits.
1. Deeper Awareness and Enhanced Listening Skills
So many of us are used to instructing our bodies what to do instead of appreciating all that it does for us and how we are feeling right now. It’s not common practice in our fast-paced society to inquire about our bodies’ feelings. Instead, we push, pressure, and force our bodies into actions that could be harmful to both our physical and mental well-being. Sharpening our awareness of our bodies and expressing gratitude for all that they provide for us are the main goals of the yoga practice.
Many of us become irate when our bodies don’t allow us to move or perform as many pushups as we’d want. Rarely do we stop to appreciate everything that our body accomplishes for us.(such as the daily acts of living so many of us take for granted). We become more acutely aware of what our body is capable of as we begin to slow down and tune in to it. We also learn to appreciate it. We learn to listen to what our bodies are saying us and respond correctly based on that information rather than forcing them into shapes they were not designed to be in.
With continued practice, you begin to understand that the practice of yoga has nothing to do with how deep you can go into a pose. It all depends on how mindful you are while holding the position and how attentive you are to your body’s cues. In essence, yoga improves our listening abilities.
2. Acceptance and Self Love
There are numerous stances that are really challenging to enter. On the exterior, it could appear simple, but on the inside, it can be really difficult. For instance, a straightforward forward bend can be difficult, and we could even feel self-conscious if we can’t touch our toes. However, touching our toes is not a must for doing yoga. There isn’t a single reason on earth to touch your toes, if you stop to think about it. If you do, neither your health nor your happiness will improve.
However, it seems logical in our goal-oriented culture that people would want to perform a posture to its “maximum” potential based on how it appears on the cover of a yoga magazine. Even though it’s erroneous, it makes sense that most of us try to seem like we belong on a magazine cover, even though we often don’t even understand why that is what we desire. We are conditioned psychologically to believe that if we could just perfect a stance, we would feel better about ourselves and that we are not good enough as we are. The fact is that nothing you do on the exterior will change how you feel about yourself. It must originate within.
If we choose to practice yoga in a conscious way, it has a tremendous way of teaching us this. The basic goal of yoga is to teach you to practice acceptance for where your body is right now and to express love and gratitude for everything your body is capable of. This idea starts to permeate your life as you start to apply it on your mat, resulting in more self-acceptance and self-love in every aspect of your life.
This is just one of the many causes behind yoga’s effectiveness. Yoga is not a goal-oriented practice, but if it had a “goal,” it might be to cultivate more self-love. We may spread love to the globe as we deepen our love for ourselves. This is where yoga’s ability to transform is found. We are able to show compassion and love to those around us when we treat ourselves better by acting compassionately and lovingly toward ourselves. This is yoga’s greatest strength and advantage.
3. Less Reactive and More Peaceful
Most individuals react naturally when things don’t turn out the way we want them to. If someone cuts you off in traffic, for instance, you could notice that you curse or become irate. When you argue with a family member, you could feel down, but when you have your hair trimmed or make a new purchase, you might feel happy. Yoga instruction allows us to maintain a more serene, stable balance no matter what is going on. So even if you are in a difficult pose and feel like you can hardly hold it, your mental state is still serene, which is symbolized by the steady, calm breath.
Similarly, whether you love or loathe the pose you are in, the aim is to keep that same deep, calm breath if you are at the maximum stretch of a pose rather than feeling superior to everyone else. The same psychological concepts begin to permeate our daily lives as a result of our training in yoga to keep a steady breath and steady frame of mind regardless of what comes our way. There will always be ups and downs in life, but the real question is: can you keep your grace? Can you remain deeply stable and humble no matter what happens to you, even during the times of happiness and sadness?
The truth is that doing yoga can actually make your ego, reactivity, vanity, and self-hatred stronger. Alternately, you can deliberately enter a yoga class with the mental attitude that you will practice being present, kind, compassionate, and attentive to your body’s response. The mental frame of mind you choose to develop and strengthen will ultimately define the true value of yoga.
It’s no secret that the biggest advantage of yoga is the mentality you adopt. Therefore, all you really need to know before your next yoga class (or if you’re spanking new) is that you are wonderful just the way you are. Use the class as a chance to practice self-care, learn to listen to what your body is trying to tell you, and let go of the impulse to compete, judge, and criticize. Simply show up, be present, and try your best to listen to your body (even if it means disobeying the teacher’s directions!).