What’s the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word – yoga?
Flexibility is correct!! And what do most people say after that? I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible, correct again!
But what if I told you that yoga has nothing to do with flexibility, strength, coordination, balance, weight loss and reduced dress size.
Sure you achieve all these goals but weight loss, flexibility and toning are considered by-products of the real goal of yoga.
Yoga involves the conscious use of the breath (prana is the life force). As you mature in your yoga practice you will move beyond the poses and begin to work with the breath. The development of the breath combined with the movement of yoga brings about a change in your consciousness – and this is where the real magic happens.
Conscious breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system which allows anxiety, fear and anger to dissipate. It also awakens us to the present moment allowing us to observe rather than react to any emotions, thoughts or feelings that may arise whilst we are practicing.
As we develop and strengthen our awareness on the mat we start to develop this new level of awareness off the mat which leads to a feeling of balance and increased resilience.
A lot of exercise often uses up all our fuel leaving us feeling depleted and reaching for that instant sugar boost which sets up an unpleasant cycle leaving us feeling emotionally battered. Yoga does the exact opposite – it refuels our tanks – giving us energy and vitality.
So, yes – you improve your flexibility, increase your strength, lose weight, improve balance and coordination but you also learn how to breath, develop awareness for the present moment balance your nervous system which leads to deeper levels of sleep – what’s not to like!
“Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodha”
Yoga is the calming of the fluctuations of the mind
Yoga Sutra of Patanjali (400 CE)