Yoga can be an essential tool to help us not just survive but thrive in difficult times. Here are a few of the beneficial effects of yoga on your life:
1. Yoga calms the nervous system & relieves stress:
There are many scientific studies which show that both meditation and yoga bring a deep relaxation of the autonomic nervous system (responsible for our body’s unconscious actions). Thus helping us to “rest and digest” rather than exist in “fight or flight” mode, which can be a really familiar state in these modern times. We can feel these benefits after just one yoga class. It’s common for people to start their yoga practise feeling stressed, depressed or anxious, and finish feeling calm, happy and relaxed. This alone makes yoga an essential tool for modern life, but don’t stop here there is much more.
2. Yoga improves your physical strength & health:
Yoga makes you physically stronger and fitter and more capable of taking on life's challenges. Studies reveal that yoga affects your immune system and ongoing health; in fact one study found that regular practise of a type of yogic meditation “led to a reduction in the biological mechanisms responsible for an increase in the immune system’s inflammation response. Inflammation, if constantly activated, can contribute to a multitude of chronic health problems.” http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/yoga-reduces-stress-now-it-s-known-236785
3. Yoga helps you focus your mind in the present moment – ‘A wandering mind is an unhappy mind’:
There is evidence to suggest that the more your mind wanders uncontrolled, the less happy you will be. We are at our happiest when we’re fully focused in the present moment. With the all-pervading nature of technology and social media in our current time, our attention has never been more splintered which can make it increasingly difficult to focus in the present moment. Therefore yoga by helping you to focus your mind and bring you into the present moment can make you happier and can reduce the risk factors of anxiety, depression and stress.
Check out these studies:
4. Yoga connects you to a deeper truth within you:
‘Yoga’ means Union in Sanskrit, or it can also be translated as ‘to yoke back to the Source’ (Universe, God, Creator, Macrocosm). It is an ancient and scientific system designed to connect you to your true identity, and to unite you with your true self. This can be verified by practising yoga yourself. Though a full realisation is unlikely to occur instantly, with practise you will begin to feel a deeper connection to something inside of you which is eternal and unchanging and beyond your idea of who you are, as simply a name, body, profession, family member and friend. As this grows and strengthens, so too does your ability to cope with life’s challenges. You begin to feel a deeper perfection and beauty just beneath the surface of your everyday life that is not reliant on everything being ‘good’. In fact, your idea of what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’ can begin to shift as you become more aware of who you really are beyond your material reality. For example, something that shakes your attachment to your material comforts might previously have been viewed as ‘bad’, but may lead ultimately to greater happiness as you begin to let go of the idea that ‘things’ can make you happy, and thus could be viewed as ‘good.’
5. Yoga helps you to stay present in your body so you can deal with challenging emotions and current/past trauma:
Often as human beings, our response to emotional pain or discomfort is to avoid it. As adults we find many ways to avoid enduring our negative or uncomfortable feelings and emotions; eating, alcohol, drugs, smoking, excessive talking, watching too much TV and so on. Part of what we are experiencing when we go through these 'difficult times', is the trauma that was stuck within our system because we couldn't deal with them at the time. These can frequently be things from childhood because we are ill equipped to deal with them at the time. If you fully feel and release your negative emotions in the moment they arise then they do not stay stuck in your system and so do not sabotage you and drain your energy. As we start to clean up our lives and stop avoiding ourselves with these ‘numbing’ activities, these things come up and they need us to remain present in our bodies to release them. Yoga is one of the best and most self-empowering ways I have ever found of both staying in my body, and helping to shift these feelings and energetic blockages through. As the emotions release/energetic blockages shift, so too do some of the negative patterns that grew out of them, our energy starts to flow better and therefore our lives can flow more freely and joyfully.
Finding a Yoga Class:
There are many different styles of yoga and many different teachers. Yoga is not limited to the physical practise of Asanas, it also includes Kirtan or Bhakti Yoga (chanting mantras/yoga of the heart), many different types of meditation and much more. I recommend trying a few classes in your local area until you find a teacher and style that suits you best. Trust your intuition and go with what you feel drawn to. There will be a class/style/type of yoga out there for everyone; you just have to find the right one for you.
I teach yoga classes, one-to-one sessions, share kirtan (yoga of the heart and voice) and run regular affordable retreats on Gower near Swansea. Check out some of the testimonials from some of my students.