Tag Archives: benefits of yoga

Wrapping up the Benefits of Yoga Series

I hope you have enjoyed this series on the benefits of yoga.  The benefits of yoga are many and I have not even begun to scratch the surface here.  I encourage you to dig deeper on your own.  But there is one final thought I want to leave with you.

We do not practice yoga hoping to obtain a certain specific benefit from our practice. We practice yoga to come back home to who we were created to be.  As we learn to practice the eight limbs of yoga our minds, our bodies, our spirits and our lives begin to come back into alignment.  We can feel the sense of joining, union or coming together within ourselves as we progress.

If we are seeking certain specific changes however, we may be disappointed.  Remember, yoga does not change us; rather, it allows the natural state of total health and integration already in each of us to become a reality.

I would love to hear about your yoga experiences in the comments below.

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The Benefits of Yoga: Improved Posture

Growing up I was always told to “stand up straight.” Like most teenagers I had a tendency to slouch. But as an adult of short stature I stood up straight to get every inch out of my height.  Or so I thought.

That is until the first physically obvious benefit of yoga for me appeared.  I could tell I was standing straighter and taller. Bob even commented on my posture.

In a world where we spend so much time driving, sitting at a computer, slumped over our cell phones and other devices we need a counterpose to life.  Instead of sinking downward and forward we need something that will move us upward and back.

Backbends will help with this, but one often overlooked pose for posture is Tadasana (tah-DAHS-uh-nuh) or Mountain Pose. If you think Mountain Pose is just standing there and a waste of time, think again.  It is an active pose that is the foundation of all standing poses. Take the time to learn proper alignment in Mountain Pose and alignment in all other standing poses will be easier.  In addition to improving posture, this pose can decrease back pain and help focus and calm the mind.

A good yoga practice has many benefits, including better posture.  Mom would be so proud.

 

Resources:

https://yoga.com/article/yoga-poses-to-fix-your-posture

http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/better-posture-101

https://www.yogabasics.com/asana/mountain/

https://www.yogaoutlet.com/guides/how-to-do-mountain-pose-in-yoga

 

The Benefits of Yoga: Mindfulness

Most of us could use a little help living in the present moment, couldn’t we? We spend much of our time planning, re-planning, and evaluating what we have done, moving back and forth between the past and the future.  We forget that life is now and this is the time to live it.  This is why I have chosen mindfulness as my first benefit of yoga.

Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way.  On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” So how does yoga help us do this?

By pairing our body movements with our breath, with our focus on our breath and body sensations arising as we practice, we train ourselves to stay present in the moment. This is not always as easy as it sounds when we are on the mat and our burning thighs, tight hamstrings and the blood rushing to our head as we are in downward facing dog are screaming for our attention.  And this is of course the day the teacher decides to do long holds. But these are the perfect times to practice mindfulness, continuing to bring our attention back to the breath whenever it starts to wander.

There are teachers who combine their training in Buddhist mindfulness meditation with yoga with a special focus on mindfulness. This is of course helpful, but you can begin on your own by focusing on the breath as you move through the yoga poses.

Mindfulness is something that is learned. Yoga is one way we can learn it. So next time you go to the yoga mat leave the busyness of your day and the to-do list for later behind.  Breathe. Move with breath. Focus on the breath and any body sensations that arise. It can take time for mindfulness to become a natural part of life, but start on the yoga mat and you are on your way.

Resources:

http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/peace-of-mind

https://palousemindfulness.com/meditations/yoga1.html

https://www.ekhartyoga.com/articles/what-is-mindfulness

Introduction to The Benefits of Yoga

Today begins a series on the benefits of yoga.  I am kicking this series off here on Espirational as well as on Facebook Live. I will begin by giving a bit of background on the practice of yoga here.  Then please join me at  10:00 AM Central Time at https://www.facebook.com/espirational/ for my yoga story — up close and personal.  You can even ask questions if you like.

Let me start by saying that yoga is not just another form of physical exercise.  If you are in a fitness based yoga practice I invite you to explore a little into the deeper teachings of yoga.

Yoga comes from a sanskrit word meaning to yoke, to join, or union.  It is an ancient practice that actually predates Hinduism.  It is not a religion.  Yoga is passed on from teacher to student.  This is why your yoga teacher may mention teachers in their lineage and their teachers lineage.

The physical postures are only one of the 8 Limbs of Yoga.  This is a brief summary of the 8 Limbs of Yoga.

Yama :  Universal morality (outer observances)  There are 5 Yamas.

Ahimsa: Non-violence

Satya: Truthfulness 

Asteya: Non-stealing

Brahmacharya: Continence (concerns non-productive use of energy)

Aparigraha: Non-possessiveness, non-hoarding

Niyama :  Inner observances  There are 5 Niyamas

Saucha or shaucha: Purity or cleanliness. 

Santosha: Contentment. 

Tapas: Disclipline, intense committment

Svadhyaya: The study of one’s self

Ishvara Pranidhana: Surrendering to God

Asana:  Body postures

Pranayama :  Breathing exercises, and control of prana

Pratyahara :  Control of the senses

Dharana :  Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness

Dhyana :  Devotion, Meditation on the Divine

Samadhi :  Union with the Divine

These eight steps of yoga are a pathway that leads to physical, ethical, emotional, and psycho-spiritual health. Yoga does not change us, it simply allows the total health and integration that are our natural state to come forth.

There are a variety of types and styles of yoga being taught throughout the world.  There is no one size fits all yoga practice that will work for everyone.  Some of the styles you may encounter range from the more rigorous Astanga, Bikram, or Vinyasa to the basic postures or Hatha to the calmer, more relaxing Restorative or Yin to the blending of spiritual and physical practices in Kundalini as well as many other styles there is something that will meet your needs.  Keep looking if your first try just doesn’t work for you.

I strive daily to follow the yogic path.  Want to here my story?  Meet me on Facebook live at 10 AM.  It will be available to watch later if you don’t catch it live.

 

Resources:

http://www.americanyogaassociation.org/general.html

http://www.expressionsofspirit.com/yoga/eight-limbs.htm

http://www.yogasense.net/yamas.html

http://www.melissawest.com/225/

http://www.melissawest.com/bicycles-and-the-yamas-and-niyamas-ethical-considerations-of-yoga/