So many people rave about the benefits of yoga but what's all the hype about?
Is yoga actually that good for you?
Yoga is a broad term for a group of varying practices and there isn’t one set way to go about starting a yoga practice.
The beauty of yoga is that you get to choose the path you want to take.
There aren’t rules and regulations, it is truly your journey and your journey alone.
Time for a little history lesson, don't run! I promise I'll try to keep it interesting.
Many of us in western culture think of vinyasa yoga when you hear that someone practices yoga. Vinyasa yoga is a more flowy type practice. Power yoga can be grouped in here as well. This is the type of yoga class that you see people doing a lot of standing poses, lots of chaturangas (push-up looking things), or crazier postures such as handstands.
This type of yoga wasn’t actually developed until the 20th century so it’s actually a more recent addition to the yoga world.
When we look at the origins of yoga, (which can be dated all the way back to BC years), yoga looked very different. It was more about a way of life as well as 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 which dates back to the 15th century. These poses are still practiced today but most of the vinyasa yoga poses that we practice were developed much more recently.
Now, with my little history lesson I just gave you, I’m not trying to hate on vinyasa yoga at all. I teach vinyasa yoga and love this type of yoga but I just wanted to share with you that this is not the only way to practice. If vinyasa isn’t your thing, there are many other avenues you can take to still participate in yoga.
I have a free 7 day yoga experience where you get to practice a different type of yoga each day. You can access this by clicking here.
Are there benefits that can come from practicing vinyasa yoga?
I will say that although many people practice vinyasa for the physical benefits, there are mental and spiritual benefits that can come from it as well.
I believe that 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 then sit and meditate. I have experienced this myself on days where I feel like I can’t sit still because I’m really in my head; if I do a vinyasa practice first, then it is 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 practice become more like a moving meditation.
I will give you some examples of this.
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 grounding while still growing is an aspect that we can bring into our own lives.
This type of thought process can take your practice up to the next level.
As I’m writing this I am thinking about how I need to incorporate this interpretation more into my teaching style so stay tuned for that! 😆
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.
Now, yoga isn’t going to take away the stress you are experiencing in the external world which I actually talk about in another post (click here if interested), 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. Or, you interact with these stressors differently so that the stress you experience isn’t so heightened.
Yoga and the physical benefits:
I also want to talk about the physical benefits of yoga.
First off, yoga is really about changing our mindset and the physical practice can help us get there.
We need to take care of our bodies physically to be in a good mindset. For example, when we aren’t eating healthy and we aren’t exercising this can lead to physical issues which in turn can lead us down a path of negativity.
We need to take time to work on our mind and our body to facilitate positivity.
Our physical body is our home and we have to care for it. Our bodies need movement to stay healthy so when we do yoga we are checking off this box for our health which leads us to be overall more positive.
Now, certain types of yoga such as vinyasa and power yoga count as exercise. So basically you’re working on your mind, soul, and physical body all at the same time. Three for one 😃
Yoga is also unique in the way that it’s a form of exercise that works on both strength and mobility at the same time. As a physical therapist, I am all about working on mobility.
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 going within, working on yourself, and connecting with something greater than you.
There is so much stress placed on us in the world today and 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 and 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”). So since the meaning 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.
Know that there is no one formula for attaining these goals and there are so many paths you can take. Along your journey you will find what works for you.
I believe that whatever your dealing with, there is some part of yoga that can help you. I am not against modern medicine at all I just think that yoga should have a place in healing.
It truly nourishes your 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 where each day we practice a different area of yoga. Your first video will be sent to you right after signing up. I know I mentioned this earlier in this post, that was for the people who wouldn’t read to the end because I still want them to try yoga! If you made it this far reading, I am confident you will enjoy this experience I put together 💕
Thank you for reading and enjoy the journey 🙏🏼
Love and light,
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