Yoga has been practised for thousands of years and when you start doing yoga, it’s easy to see why this practice remains popular. Yoga is designed to rejuvenate the body and mind, and is about focusing on the self. It’s a discipline that grows with you as you become more tuned in with your physical-spiritual connection. It can be easy to forget that yoga is a journey into your self-development and that class shouldn’t be a time to show off. It’s a time to heal, tune-in, see how your practice has evolved, and of course, to have fun!
Here are seven things that will happen when you start practising yoga.
You’ll learn to let go of what doesn’t serve you
My teacher says this a lot in class and it really is true. As you begin to realise that there is no competition in class and there’s only so far you can push your body, you bring that philosophy into your life. You may also find that old emotions come up during a particular pose. I remember one class when I was so angry, I felt sick and felt like crying and I wondered if there was something wrong with me. Then I found this website which described why we can feel overwhelmed in class. It was helpful to be reminded that yoga entails allowing yourself to heal which means buried emotions resurfacing so they can be released.
You’ll become more confident!
Yoga allows you to connect more deeply with yourself and your body. You start to feel gratitude that you can hold your body weight – especially when doing a vinyasa that incorporates chaturanga! You embrace every part of yourself because you know it’s your body and you CAN do it. You’ll build muscle and tone up places you didn’t even know existed! Here’s a guide to how yoga changes the body over a prolonged period of time.
You’ll become mindful of the types of food you eat
Maybe it’s the new found awareness of your body, or the detoxing stretches, but something clicks in your brain and suddenly you don’t want to fill your body with chemicals, or eat food loaded with sugar. Me and my friend always joke that the best meal of the week is the post yoga class meal. You feel so good that you want to carry that through into everything. Not only that, but your metabolism improves meaning your body can utilise vitamins and minerals with more efficiency and much more effectively. This study by Shauna E. Keeler describes how those who practised yoga were more mindful of their food choices.
You’ll sleep more deeply
Hooray!! This is something we could all do with more of! This detailed study by Catherine Woodyard shows how yoga contributes to a fuller and sounder nights sleep and is beneficial to all areas of our lives. When you get a good nights sleep, your productivity increases, your stress levels decrease and your cognitive function greatly improves. If you’re having difficulty sleeping The Yoga Journal website has some amazing poses to help you sleep better at night.
You’ll become mindful of your actions off the mat as well as on the mat
You’ll gain an awareness of how your body reacts in particular situations and you’ll learn how to alleviate the symptoms and find a beneficial solution. You may begin to set positive intentions during the day as well as during class, and as a bonus you may find you’ll have more patience with the flow of life. Here’s what the Harvard Health website has to say about the benefits of yoga off the mat.
You’ll be aware of your breath as a healing tool
Yoga incorporates different breathing techniques that this study in the International Journal of Yoga says “positively affects immune function, autonomic nervous system imbalances, and psychological or stress related disorders”. This means that the techniques taught in a yoga class are far more beneficial than most people think. They can be incorporated into daily life to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and ease anxiety. For example diaphragmatic breathing is great for beginners because you are taught how to consciously breathe by concentrating on how it feels to breathe. If you’re interested in the different types of breathing exercises I recommend reading “Breath Easy: Relax With Pranayama”
You’ll have less frequent aches and pains
The Harvard Health website states that those who suffer from chronic pain found that their pain lessened with weekly yoga sessions. As someone who suffers from neck and back pain I have definitely found that doing yoga has helped. In fact my neck pain has gone and my back pain very rarely flares up. If you decide that you want to pursue yoga for this reason then remember to speak to your doctor and find a qualified yoga instructor and inform them of your pain or any medical conditions you have. They can work with you to find poses to alleviate your pain.
“Yoga stirs up the comfortable identity you’ve been projecting and peels back why you even want/need that identity in the first place.” – Caren Baginski
The body follows the mind. Yoga is a discipline that allows you to fight past the doubt and realise how your limitations are in the mind. You start to honour yourself and suddenly the negative self-talk doesn’t cut it anymore. Through yoga you come to realise that negativity doesn’t serve you and that it acts as a barrier to all the positive things you can do. You’re empowered to love yourself and feel good about who you are and the progress you make not just in class, but in life too.
Featured photo credit: Hawaii Sunrise AcroRevolution Style via flickr.com