We have all heard someone in our lives say “ you should give yoga a go”. Ugh, you think, “ yoga is for hippies.” Before you throw the idea of yoga under the mat here are some of the ways yoga will change the relationship you have with your body and mind after just one class:
Retrain your Mind
The secret of yoga is that it uses physical postures to allow us to begin to retrain the mind.
When you’re balancing in Tree Pose and your mind begins to wander, you lose your balance. If you’re in Child’s Pose plotting how you’ll check things off your to-do list after class, your body begins to tighten and tense up.
When thoughts arise, you bring yourself back to the present. When you find yourself obsessing how the pose looks in the mirror, you gently refocus your attention on your breath. The physical practice of yoga is a guide to something bigger: a balancing of the mind, body, and spirit. Yoga helps you to retrain your focus, so you’re better able to disengage from excessive mind chatter.
A regular yoga practice can bring some amazing changes into your life and can completely transform the way you look at yoga.
Go Beyond just your Body
The word yoga means “yoke” or “union.” Union of the mind, body, and spirit.
Yoga is one of the few exercises that emphasizes awareness and connection to your breathing.
Each stretch and sequence brings a focus on movement with breath. To allow movement to be guided by breath, you first have to know what “following your breath” means. You have to slow down and be present. You have to stop all the mental chatter so you’re able to concentrate on the here and now. And that is a small miracle for those obsessed with weight and body. To be able to live at peace in your body is one of the greatest gifts of a steady yoga practice.
Learn To Listen
Each time you come to your yoga mat you feel different. Some days you feel peaceful and content. Other days you feel frazzled and anxious. Yoga asks that you listen to your body, turn inward, and pay attention to what your body needs and wants. Is your body tense? Tired? Strong? Do you need a more restorative class? Or would an energizing, vigorous practice feel better? You begin to learn how to discern what feels good to your body and listen to what your body needs.
Show Care and Compassion
When you are battling your body and engaging in destructive thoughts and patterns, this attitude of compassion can seem foreign. But yoga gently nudges you to let go of self-punishment and strict control, and replace it with nourishment and love.
Yoga is a healing art. Themes of self-care, kindness, and gentleness permeate each class. Yoga is empowering and positive, it focuses on what our bodies CAN do, instead of negatively criticizing what they can’t do. This attitude of compassion begins to extend not just to our body and ourselves, but to others as well.