“Yoga is a dance between control and surrender – between pushing and letting go – and when to push and when to let go becomes part of the creative process, part of the open-ended exploration of your being.”
– Joel Kramer
It is natural to go to a yoga class for the first time expecting a great work out and great results from it. You may also expect certain mental benefits such as stress relief, mood elevation, etc. However, there is a lot more that happens to you that you may be unaware of in the beginning.
Beginning of Mindfulness
“Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.”
– Sylvia Boorstein
The very first thing your yoga instructor would normally ask you to focus on other than being in the correct posture is to be aware of your body. In order for you to get any benefits from doing certain asanas, you have to engage that particular body part, which automatically makes you more aware of that specific body part.
Over time, this awareness spreads to your entire body eventually and it is not restricted to just your yoga practise. This helps in becoming more in tune with our bodies and minds and helps us become more awake and aware as individuals.
Feeling of “Mental Lightness” right after a Yoga class
It is common knowledge that asanas rejuvenate and energises the body. However, noticed how amazing your mind feels after a good yoga class and a well deserved savasana? If we follow the Eastern concept that that mind, body and soul is one, it makes sense that the body is energised which in turn also energises the mind.
During a yoga class through the different asanas and twist and inversions we get a chance to let out the stress and emotional blocs we form over the years. The release of certain energies in different parts of our bodies which have been ignored for years may not always be pleasing, but improves our mental health in the long run. And, if I am to be honest, it is this feeling of “mental lightness” or yoga “high” that made me come back for another class when I first started practising yoga.
Increased Energy during the Day
If the practise of yoga is done along with a healthy diet and rest, it is natural to experience increase in our levels of energy and productivity during the day. Practising yoga in the morning not only leaves you with more energy but also allows you to set your intentions for the day, along with a positive mental attitude.
Yoga practise improves your overall blood circulation, leading to increased blood flow to the brain, thus making your sharper as well. It is even advised, while practising yoga after sunset, to avoid certain asanas as it can leave the body feeling energised and awake for a long time. So there are certain asanas that are better for morning practices and others for evening ones.
After intensive study of the effect of various asanas on the body, during my Teacher Training Course, I believe that if you have a problem, there is an asana for it as a solution. It improves cardiovascular health, yoga helps relax the entire body which includes the blood vessels as well, thus lowering blood pressure and increasing blood flow to the heart. Yoga helps control and prevent diabetes, a study published in, Journal of Clinic and Diagnosis Research, had 30 men with Type 2 diabetes practising yoga for a period of 6 months after which there was a significant decrease in their blood glucose level. Yoga improves the digestion system of the body which in turn helps with diabetes and various other diseases. Yoga has also been known to lower the risk of cancer, as it prevents genetic mutation from expressing. Yoga helps with various kinds of body pain ailments, lengthens lifespan and youth, and these are just a few health benefits of practising yoga.
Detachment from the pain/discomfort
My yoga teacher always urges me to observe what happens to my body while I hold an asana. I don’t think I understood what he meant until I experienced the phenomena. While I was holding naukasana (I usually dread core related asanas), my core began to shake and I began sweating and I was almost about to give up when I was suddenly not affected by it anymore. My body was still shaking and sweating, however what changed was how unaffected my mind was by this. It was almost like I was standing over my body watching myself with a half-amused smile. I was still completely aware of my body but it no longer had the power to make me move or give up in discomfort and I think I finally found the secret to how it is possible to hold asanas for as long as you want.
Change in your Mental Attitude
“Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it. What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.”
– Ramana Maharshi
Yoga is a science that not only makes your body healthier, but also gives your mental attitude a boost. Yoga has been known to relieve stress and elevate mood. It urges you to take a hard look inside yourself and brings your focus onto wants such as contentment and happiness.
“I can see exactly where my episodes of unhappiness have brought suffering and distress or inconvenience to those around me. The search for contentment is, therefore, not merely a self-preserving and self-benefiting act, but also a generous gift to the world. You cease being an obstacle, not only to yourself but to anyone else. Only then are you free to serve and enjoy other people.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert
If you are interested in Yoga or want to learn more about it you can connect with me on Instagram.
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