What are the Benefits of Yoga?
The benefits of yoga are many. Physically, yoga fosters strength, stamina, good posture and alignment, and increased balance and flexibility. And simply GREAT, calm energy. Mentally, yoga encourages a strong focus of concentration and steady attention, as well as provides tools to quiet the mind at will. Emotionally, yoga offers peace and relaxation, and the ability to connect with an inner still point that cultivates a calm attitude. At all levels yoga cultivates poise and equanimity in the face of the many fluctuations in our lives.
Yoga is a proven technique with thousands of years of history. By practicing Hatha Yoga, (the postures and breathing practices) millions of people over the millennia have experienced health benefits. Other aspects of the yogic lifestyle and principles (such as diet, ethical practices, and meditation) add a further dimension that enhances your life. These practices are simply a way of saying for yourself, “I care about the quality of my experience in this embodied life. I want to take every opportunity to be in a good connection with my body, my mind, and my spirit, and with those around me.”
Why is YOGA a good strategy for dealing with Stress?
In the Body
Yoga works in the body, and much of our daily stress gets transferred to, and stored in the body. Ongoing accumulations of tension and anxiety reveal themselves as knots, soreness, stiffness, and pain in muscles and joints. Chronic stress is a primary contributor to many more serious health problems. Stress threatens long term health and longevity, and causes our bodies to become uncomfortable places to simply BE!
In the Mind
Yoga works in the mind, where stress typically begins. When you begin to think about an unpleasant or worrisome event in the future, you begin to build stress. When you begin to think about an unpleasant or worrisome event in the past, you begin to build pressure. When you keep your focus of attention in the here-and-now, pressure is much less likely to build up. Yoga is, more than anything, about learning to keep your moment-to-moment awareness here and now, with you, whenever you choose.
In the Heart and Soul
Yoga works in the heart and soul, where stress takes a toll in the form of depression, numbness, anxiety, feeling restless, lost or simply ill at ease. Strain shows up in your emotions, your relationships, and your spirit. You just know whether you feel “okay” with yourself and the world, or not.
Yoga can HELP —
In the body
Yoga postures bring better and more complete circulation to muscles, bones, joints and organs. Yoga movements extend flexibility and build better balance gradually, progressively. Postures build strength, stamina and resilience which supports all physical functions. Breathing practices create fuller oxygenation of the blood. Complete breathing helps create a thorough exchange/release of carbon dioxide and normal toxins that result from metabolic processes.
In the mind
Developing a strong focus facilitates mental clarity and ability to be in charge of where the mind goes. Steady concentration can help slow or still the mind when you desire. Having mental tools to resist “monkey mind” is vital to balance the restless nature of our culture and the overwhelming level of stimulation, information and activity which can be hard to cope with. Connecting the mind to your present moment experience in your physical sensations forms the powerful mind-body link which strengthens immunity and healing.
In the spirit
Yoga gives your soul a rest. Your spirit might be perfectly happy just to rest deeply and rejuvenate in the light of your conscious awareness. Some of us feel a longing to connect with something deeper than that. Yoga offers the opportunity to attune with the Spirit that lives in each one of us.
The fundamental truth of Yogic teachings is that our essence, our deepest self is blissful, filled with peace, that our true nature is serene and content. “Just so . . all beings live, every moment, in the city of the divine, but never find the divine because it is hidden. ” (from the Chandogya Upanishad.)
So though our serenity is already there, there are many things that disturb or conceal it. Yoga is the process of revealing all manner of things which separate us from that.