Often the first question I am asked by new students is ‘Why do people do yoga?’
Where to begin?
There are the obvious reasons - people come to yoga to loose weight, to tone up, to increase their fitness, flexibility, to destress - pretty much the normal reasons people come to any form of 'exercise'.
BUT Yoga is not JUST exercise although it offers all the same (plus so many many more) benefits. It is not about perfecting your body. It is not about what your body looks like in a pose, or obsessing about a particular pose. Yoga is not a competition with yourself, the person on the mat next to you or the teacher.
"Yoga is not about touching your toes, it's about what you learn on the way down."
Yoga translates to mean ‘union.’ Union between your mind, body,
breath and soul. It is about improving – your mind, body, breath and soul. It is
about knowing yourself. Accepting yourself as you are RIGHT NOW.
Yoga Asana , the physical poses of yoga, was developed thousands of years ago by Indians in an effort to make their bodies healthier, to enable them to sit for longer periods of time in meditation. Although today we are not sitting in meditation for hours on end, most of us do find ourselves sitting for hours on end which is where yoga asana is so useful.
The poses, the sequences, the breath, the whole class is designed in a way to work your entire body. Unlike modern day exercise this does NOT limit itself to your major muscle groups. Instead yoga works your largest muscles, smaller muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, organs, joints – the WHOLE ENTIRE body. The idea is that it moves the body in different directions to increase mobility and healthy function. Similarly each pose is designed to compress different organs so that when the pose is released you flush it out with fresh blood. What does this mean? It means that yoga asana is simply designed to maximize the OVERALL health of your ENTIRE body. It builds strength in your muscle, improves your posture, decreases pain (back, hip, headaches - you name it!) increases core strength, increases flexibility, helps your organs function more efficiently – it balances you whilst leaving you toned and fit. WINNING!!!
When you combine this with Breath awareness you will start to take the practice of Yoga to a new level. One definition of yoga is ‘ the cessations of the fluctuations of the mind’. In the land of yoga it is believed that there is an intrinsic link between the breath and the mind. If you can control your breath, you can control your mind. Thus when a student starts to focus intently on their breath and their body, the mind’s white noise stops - and yoga is achieved. The benefit of this is that you will find yoga starts to balance your emotions, your thoughts, your stress, anxiety and depression. You will leave class feeling refreshed and relaxed, no matter if you have done a hard core Hot Power Yoga, or a Relax class.
All this said ultimately Yoga can and will be what you want it to be. You only ever take the practice, the poses as deep/strong as your body needs at that given moment. And the breath as always comes first!!!
So if you are unsure if yoga is for you. Be sure that it is. It is about you so how can it not be for you? There are so many different styles and teachers available everywhere that there is a class that is perfect for where you are right now.
And if you practice yoga already - next time you are on the mat obsessing about the fact that you can’t touch your toes, but the new guy next to you can get his toes to his head…
just observe yourself, your thoughts, and remind yourself this is your journey,
and your journey only. What can you learn right now???
If you are curious about the stupidly long list of the benefits yoga creates… check out http://www.abc-of-yoga.com/beginnersguide/yogabenefits.asp
Written By Korinne McNeill - Green Room Yoga & Wellness Creator
KORINNE McNEILL: Yoga is life for Korinne. Creator of the Green Room Korinne is grateful everyday that she gets to share her passion with others.