You may be completely new to yoga, or an experienced yogi who has been practicing for a number of years. Or you may have previously taken part in yoga classes and fallen out of the habit for one reason or another. Whichever apples to you, there is no judgement here! In this article we are going to take a closer look at five important benefits of yoga. These will either increase your understanding or provide a reminder of the benefits.
1. Physical wellbeing
Most forms of yoga involve some form of physical movement or engagement. There are very dynamic forms of yoga such as power yoga, which builds overall strength and balance. There are also slower forms where you might simply be sitting for a prolonged period of time. Whether you choose online or in-person yoga, all variations have an element of physical activity. Regardless of what has attracted you to yoga, if you do it consistently you’ll experience some level of physical wellbeing.
2. Mental wellbeing
As well as moving your body, yoga also has many prompts to focus on your mental wellbeing. Allocating time to focus on yourself is one of these prompts, and focusing on you and your needs, it can be a first step in focusing on your mental health.
Yoga encourages you to be aware of your breathing. Coupled with concentrating on how you move your body, you are less likely to start thinking about other things. Yoga helps you stay present in the current moment, mindful as to what is taking place and less likely to think about other things – past, present or future – that might cause you anxiety, worry, or have negative attachments.
3. Connecting with your breath
We breathe thousands of times a day, usually without even realising it. We need to breathe to live. It makes sense that breathing is connected to our overall health. Even just by reading this sentence about your breath, you’re likely to be more aware of it. This awareness of breath can be a great way to focus your mind. Yoga advocates matching breath with movement to aid this focus. Over time, this develops the ability to develop your ability to breathe deeply and maximise the health benefit of your breath.
Our internal body systems can affect our breath; you feel panicked and you’ll often find your breaths getting shorter and faster. It also works the other way around. Slowing your breath affects those same systems. Moving in unison with your breath through yoga gives more control of your breath. In turn, controlling your breath gives more control of your body.
4. Learning about yourself
If you have even the smallest amount of experience of yoga, there are times you can feel a host of different emotions. From frustration at not being able to do a pose the way you’d like, to happiness at managing to keeping your balance. You will also at times feel a sense of complete relaxation and support. Your mind doesn’t know it’s in a yoga class when you feel those emotions, it just knows that the conditions were right for that emotion to be felt. How you interpret and deal with those emotions is the same; whether it is on or off the mat.
Experiencing these different emotions in the safe and secure setting of a yoga practice provides an opportunity to experiment and learn from your response. If you react to the frustration by getting angry at yourself, what was the outcome? Was it good or bad? What happens if you try a different approach next time? This is all knowledge and experience, so learn about yourself and use the insight to benefit you going forward.
5. Finding a sense of community
There are many reasons why someone may choose to practice yoga. These can be very individual reasons or more general reasons. Whatever they may be, you’re likely to find commonality with someone else, and that connection can be quite compelling. Add the opportunities for new experiences through your yoga practice and to share those experiences, and you’ll quickly find communities at all levels you can be a part of.
By reading this article we hope we have given you some food for thought, and that you have a better understanding of these five important benefits of yoga. Have you experienced other benefits? Let us know in the comments below.