Beyond the obvious physical fitness benefits, what are we actually doing when we practice yoga? What is yoga for and why is it good for us? Here are a few pointers as to what it’s all about. Let these thoughts be a launch pad for your own practice. Your own experience will of course be unique and this is why it is best to try it for yourself!
Establishing a safe inner space
Sometimes we need to retreat from the world for a bit. It’s OK to use external entertainment for a while, but if we really want to create deep and lasting change, an internally oriented practice is the most effective. Yoga can help to center us while we traverse our internal landscape. Once we know what to expect from our inner world we can mold it to our own needs. A side effect of the process is that we will never need to look elsewhere for the comfort and solace we sometimes crave.
* Connecting with our greater sense of self: once we awaken the thirst for a more expansive way of thinking, yoga can take us into a deeper more profound relationship with ourselves. The destination we are seeking is the vast experience of nature. We can eventually transcend our sense of ‘limited’ personal self as we connect with blissful awe to the cosmic reality upon which our lives are truly built.
* Creating strong neural pathways for an enhanced relaxation response: the nature of the human brain is plastic. It is constantly moulding and adapting to environmental pressures until we stop demanding change. This is good news for us as we are soon able to create new neural pathways with consistent effort in our chosen direction. The ability to relax is like any habit and strengthens with repeated use.
* Increasing the flow of vitality through our muscles and joints:
[ ]Energy tends to have a sticky quality that can get snagged easily if the channels are not smooth and free-flowing
[ ]Our modern lives are one of the culprits for creating energy snags
[ ]Sitting in chairs all the time instead of sitting on the floor at least some of the time tightens us up
[ ]Change is a complex process and demands courage and some knowledge of where we are headed
[ ]Yoga helps us to let go into the momentum of the flow
[ ]As we flow more freely, our energy will become more dynamic
[ ]Allowing free-flowing energy promotes top conditions for health
[ ]No one is immune from the effects of moving their body in a way that resembles our ancestral movements
[ ]Yoga makes us more aware of our bodies
[ ]It’s easy to see why people become pleasantly addicted to the results and take it up with such fervour
[ ]Keeping it going as a practice can help us be more disciplined in other areas of our life
[ ]Practice demands controlled severity at times and yielding softness at others
[ ]Practical application of select styles of yoga is highly energizing and also promotes restful sleep
[ ]Eating moderately and enhanced will power around food ensures better success rates with dietary requirements
[ ]Our awareness increases tenfold and we learn to share respectfully what we have learned.
* Releasing tension and letting go of unhelpful states of mind: We can move swiftly through uncomfortable states of mind like depression and anger. The focus demanded by yoga will help us shift out of the thinking patterns responsible.
* Training our mind towards increased focus and discipline: When we learn the joy of repetition we know we have somewhere reliable to turn when things are tough, or a great channel for expression of our whole gamut of feelings and emotions. We can really learn to recognise the energies at play, and our awareness will soon pick up on what’s going on in other areas of our lives. It is training our focus and making us more available to ourselves.
Strong, disciplined people are products of strong disciplined minds. Fortunately for us the mind is forever responsive to training and the forming of new habits. If we view the mind as the search engine of the brain, just like it’s counterpart, the computer, we know we can always get updates, upgrades, change search engine providers and customize all the settings. This leaves our limitations in the hands of our creativity. The more creative we are, the further we can travel into transformation.