Is A Yoga Practice Really That Good For You?
So many people rave about the benefits of having a yoga practice, but what’s all the hype about? Is yoga really that good for you? Find out here!
Exploring the True Essence of A Yoga Practice
When you think of yoga, I’m sure a certain image comes to mind. Maybe it’s someone sitting in meditation for hours or it’s someone doing some crazy yoga pose with their legs behind their head.
These are misconceptions that you need to let go of. Sure, you could sit in meditation for hours for your yoga practice. Sure, you could do some yoga poses that put your legs in all kinds of crazy positions. But this isn’t what yoga is limited to.
Yoga is a broad term for a group of varying practices. There isn’t one set way practice yoga.
The beauty of yoga is that you get to choose the path you want to take.
There aren’t rules and regulations, it’s truly your journey and your journey alone.
A Little Bit Of Yoga History
Many of us in western culture think of vinyasa yoga when we think of a yoga practice. Vinyasa yoga is a more physically challenging type practice. Power yoga can be grouped in here as well. This is the type of yoga class where you’ll see people doing a lot of standing poses and chaturangas (push-up looking things), or crazier postures such as handstands.
This type of yoga wasn’t actually developed until the 20th century meaning it’s actually a much more recent addition to the yoga world.
When we look at the origins of yoga, (which can be dated all the way back to BCE years), yoga looked very different. It was more about a way of life and about using meditation to achieve a higher state of consciousness.
Now, there are a few asanas (which basically are yoga poses) that are mentioned in a text called the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika dates back to the 15th century. These poses are still practiced today but most of the vinyasa yoga poses that are practiced were developed much more recently.
I share this information with you not because I’m hating on vinyasa yoga at all. I teach vinyasa yoga and love this type of yoga! But I just want you to know that this isn’t the only way to practice. If vinyasa isn’t your thing, there are many other avenues you can take to still participate in yoga.
Does a vinyasa yoga practice offer you benefits?
Although many people practice vinyasa for the physical benefits, there are both mental and spiritual benefits that can come from it as well.
Meditation is a great way to achieve mental and spiritual benefits, but some people have a difficult time sitting still and meditating. I think everyone can work up to being able to meditate, but sometimes we can look for other avenues to help get us there.
Moving through a vinyasa practice can help us get into a more “zen” mindset which can help us to then sit and meditate. I have experienced this myself. There are days where I feel like I can’t sit still because I’m having too many thoughts. If I do a vinyasa practice first, then it’s much easier for me to sit and meditate.
If you do have trouble meditating, this post may help: How to make meditation easier
You can also take your vinyasa practice to the next level by tapping into the deeper meanings behind each pose. This makes your yoga practice become more like a moving meditation.
Take warrior pose for instance. Yes, we are strengthening our legs but we are also tapping into our inner warrior and our personal power. In tree pose we can think about how a tree stays rooted at the same time as it grows. Staying grounded while still growing is an aspect that we can bring into our own lives.
This type of thought process can take your yoga practice to the next level.
Let's talk about stress....
Another benefit of yoga (because if you haven’t guessed it already, yes, I do think yoga is that good for you) is that it helps manage stress.
Yoga isn’t going to take away the stress that you experience in the external world, but it does change how you approach these stressors.
It helps change your mindset so that things that may have stressed you in the past, no longer bother you. It also helps you to interact with these stressors differently so that the stress you experience isn’t so heightened.
I talk about this in more detail in another post: click here if you’re interested!
The Physical Benefits Of A Yoga Practice
There are many physical benefits that you can experience from practicing yoga and each different type of yoga offers its own unique set of benefits.
For example, practices such as meditation may not be strengthening your muscles, but meditation is wonderful for regulating and calming the nervous system.
If you do choose to practice more physical based yoga such as vinyasa, this will benefit your body in terms of strength, flexibility, and mobility.
Yoga is a powerful way to use the mind body connection for healing.
Consistency is key 🗝
One thing about a yoga practice is you need to show up consistently to receive the benefits. This is like anything else in life. You can’t eat healthy one day a month and improve your health and you can’t show up for yoga one day a month and improve your mindset.
You really should be practicing yoga everyday. I know this sounds like a lot but this doesn’t need to be a crazy commitment!
Like I said before, there are many ways to practice yoga. If you spend 5 minutes meditating or 5 minutes doing some breath work, that counts as your practice. You don’t have to do a one hour yoga flow everyday. I wouldn’t even recommend that, our bodies need rest as well as movement!
And, if you miss a day, don’t be so hard on yourself. We are all only human. Just get back to it the next day and move on from there.
What yoga is really all about....
Yoga, in whatever form you choose to practice, is about turning your attention within, working on yourself, and connecting with something greater than you.
There is so much stress placed on us in the world today. There are so many external distractions that it’s more important than ever to connect back with yourself and to look within. Doing this helps us to connect with the universe and appreciate all the blessings surrounding us. It helps us see the world differently, like we are looking through a different lens. We start to notice beautiful and amazing things around us that we may have missed before. We start to feel gratitude for things that we didn’t think about prior.
Just know, this whole journey is a journey. This thing we call yoga is going to be a work in progress for all of us because that is the human experience.
Yoga’s true goal at the end of the day is to lead us to enlightenment.
Yoga means “union” when it’s translated from Sanskrit (the original language of yoga and where many pose names come from such as “chaturanga”). Since the meaning of yoga is “union”, yoga is leading us to see everything in the universe as one. If we see everything as one and equal, then we live with love and compassion for all things in this beautiful world of ours.
If more people are living with kindness and compassion, this can only be a good thing.
And if yoga can help get us to this state, then yoga has to be that good for us.
There are many paths you can take.
Know that there isn’t one set formula for attaining these goals and that there are many paths you can take. Along your journey, you will find what works for you.
I believe that whatever you’re dealing with, there is some part of yoga that can help you.
Yoga truly nourishes your entire being, mind, body, and soul.
I hope this inspired you to add yoga into your life, if either for the first time or to be more consistent with your practice.
If you would like to try out different aspects of yoga to find what resonates with you, I encourage you to sign up for my FREE 7 day yoga experience. Each day we practice a different area of yoga. If you made it this far in this post, I’m confident you will enjoy this experience that I put together.
Thank you for reading and enjoy the journey!