WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT YOGA?
You want to feel better in your body, more rested, and less tense.
You want to be calmer, less reactive, and more capable of handling life’s challenges with ease.
You want to change your life for the better and maybe you've tried exercise, getting more sleep, reading self-help books, meditation, visualization, journaling, counseling, medicating, or all of the above.
Maybe you’ve tried and made some progress, but it isn’t enough or isn’t quite right, and you feel stuck.
Maybe you've stopped trying.
What if there was one thing you could do to change your life for the better that worked no matter what you’re dealing with?
The most effective way to change your life for the better is with yoga.
I’m going to explain why, but first, it’s important to know that yoga is way more than just a physical exercise you do on a mat in stretch pants.
In fact, yoga is an entire system of philosophical wisdom and physical, breathing, and mental practices.
- 10 behavioral guidelines,
- more than 1000 variations of physical postures,
- dozens of breathing and meditation techniques, as well as,
- countless different methods of applying or practicing all of it.
The system of yoga is often described as a tree with 8-limbs.
Two of these limbs are the behavioral guidelines, 5 each of what to practice doing and not doing, one limb includes all the physical postures, one is for the breathing practices, and there are 3 limbs dedicated to the mental techniques, one of which is meditation.
The 8th limb of yoga is the continual state of growth that occurs with practice.
With this entire system in mind, there are 3 main ways yoga changes your life.
One is by helping you shift patterns you’ve developed over time.
These may be patterns that have a negative effect on your physical and mental well-being, like negativity or judgment, or neutral patterns that are automatic and comfortable and therefore keeping you stuck, like having a fixed mindset.
Here’s an example of how it works:
When you put your body into a physical posture that stretches you and you stick with it, you learn how to take a new shape.
Because the body and mind work together, taking a new shape with the body requires a shift in the mind.
Practiced consistently, postures (even super simple ones) teach you to overcome physical, emotional, and psychological obstacles that prevent you from thriving.
Yoga also teaches you how to be more purposeful in your decision-making.
You must deliberately practice, and even though it can be very simple, you move in a specific way, you breathe in a specific manner, and you consciously focus your attention.
When you are mindful and intentional about your practice, you naturally become more mindful and intentional in your life because you develop a deepening sense of being more in sync with yourself.
For example, when you pay attention to your breath, you automatically become more aware of the present moment, how your body feels, the state of your mind, and therefore, more conscious of how your choices directly affect your experience.
The third way yoga changes your life for the better is by revealing the person you’re capable of being.
Your practice cultivates focus on your ability to overcome challenges and, even if only fleetingly at first, the bliss of each small victory.
For example, when you practice a mantra, which is a group of words you repeat, you may only be able to concentrate for a moment before getting distracted.
But if you start again, and keep going repeatedly, you gain concentration and begin to see how the shifts that happen with each practice also give you a calm determination to continually face whatever is keeping your attention diverted from being your best self.
Yoga changes your life by continually deepening your connection to your potential and your ability to master the patterns, choices, and obstacles that are your unique way to realize that potential.
One of two things will happen: either you begin to experience the positive effects of yoga on your life or you stop practicing yoga.
So how do you take this system of yoga that’s highly effective in changing your life for the better and make it a part of your life so that you actually get the transformative benefits?
There are 2 very important things I want you to know:
- Despite the comprehensive nature of yoga, you can get the life-changing benefits in small, simple steps. In fact, it’s really the only way you do.
Try taking a new shape with your body right now. Bring your arms overhead and hold opposite elbows. You’ll immediately notice the ways in which you are holding tension in your shoulders and can work on your ability to relax them. Take another breath or two here and deliberately practice softening into this shape. Now put the opposite forearm on top. Take a few breaths and just let yourself be here, noticing. Good, release.
- Even though yoga can be surprisingly simple, to get the benefits, you do actually have to do it.
You do not have to go to an hour-long class, or roll out a mat, or wear anything in particular, but you do have to willfully apply the wisdom and practices to your life.
I recommend you do this in small ways, throughout the day as part of your existing routine. For example, use your time in the shower to practice breath awareness. Or take a 1-minute break from hunching over your laptop to stretch your shoulders. Or recite a mantra while you’re making dinner or washing dishes.
Simple and consistent works to change your life for the better. But don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself by choosing one simple thing to do as part of your existing routine and committing to do it consistently.
This is precisely what we do in Make Peace with Stress and, it works.