Yoga came into my life at a time where I was unsatisfied with myself. I felt trapped by addictive behaviours, confused about where my future lay and unsure about how I could learn more about managing my emotions. I had a feeling that yoga would be able to help me answer many of the questions that I had…and I was not disappointed. Here are 5 deep impacts that yoga has had and continues to have. Yoga is really the science of the self, and has so much more to offer us than just physical benefits. At this time of high stress it really is a practice that delivers benefits that we really can’t live without.
I’ve always been an active person, and still am, but slowing my movements down and learning how to focus on my breath really allowed me to see that a lot of my ‘busyness’ was a tool to distract myself from myself. I struggled with accepting how I felt, and not having anything to ‘do’ brought a lot of those feelings to the surface. On my yoga mat I found a safe space to let many emotions out, and once they come out I felt liberated and deeply peaceful.
Balancing being and doing will always be a challenge in our modern age. In my experience learning how to be, how to think deeply and find inner peace is crucial to our success – on the inside AND the outside.
One of the reasons that we are witnessing a rise of stress related disorders; anxiety, insomnia, depression…is that we are spending more and more of our time in our heads and not in our bodies. This is precisely why exercise has been found to help all of the above…its gets us into our body. Yoga is the same, but it adds an extra level of awareness and consciousness into the practice. When we move our bodies, not automatically, robotically, but consciously, the grounding effect is much deeper. Furthermore it also trains us to realise that we can move from our head into the body at any time. All it takes is being mindful, and becoming aware of the breath.
Personally, yoga really helped me manage the tension of my entrepreneurial journey. It taught me how to come into my self into a place of inner peace that is accessible whenever we chose to go there. Of course it is a practice, you don’t become zen on day 1, just as you don’t get a 6 pack after your first gym session. But in my over 8 years of yoga practice I can say that the more I practice the more peaceful I become and the more control I have over how I feel and think.
Many people think that yoga is only for the flexible, but that is not the purpose of yoga, that is the result. No yoga practitioner starts out flexibile – unless they have practiced other disciplines such as dance, gymnastics etc. But the result of practicing yoga is that you get more and more flexible. That flexibility of body creates a foundation of feeling alive, healthy and strong, which is a great foundation for good health.
But perhaps even more importantly yoga teaches us how to be flexible in the mind. It teaches us how to not be so attached to how we think life should go. Rigidity in the mind creates a lot of suffering as life rarely goes how we plan or expect it to. If we hold on too tight to those expectations, we suffer.
Self love has become more trendy these days, but it is not just a cute aphorism that gets slapped on Instagram posts. Self love and acceptance is a foundation for self esteem, and without healthy self esteem we suffer. Particularly in a world where it is so easy to compare ourselves to celebrities, social media stars and even the crafted online messages of our friends and acquaintances. Feeling inadequate is easier than ever. But studies have shown that feeling inadequate actually inhibits serotonin production, which further perpetuates low confidence and causes less happiness, more pain and anxiety, more illness and shorter lifespans.
Yoga creates a feeling of inner peace, satisfaction with what is and a joy that is not dependent on our material belongings. That creates an amazing positive feedback loop that boosts our serotonin, increases our confidence and helps us function optimally in the world around us.
The moment you step out of your house and onto the street you are likely to be met by road rage, impatient shop keepers, and people ready to lose their cool over a slight mistake or disturbance. When you practice yoga, you naturally become more reflective. You understand what it is about the nature of our own selves and egos that causes us to react this way. You learn to observe the patterns so that you can step out of them. Slowly but surely.
When you start to try and change your behaviours you realise how hard it is and you feel compassion for the pain of others. It makes you realise that true cause behind the many dysfunctional behaviours you will meet daily. Seeing your own patterns of behaviour is the best tool to help you be more compassionate. In a world where so many people are stressed and angry, this is a skill which will give you so much inner peace.
BONUS: What you can do to deepen your practice…
If you are a beginner to yoga you can check out our beginners classes at Sanya and a particular class we have created for those who are plus sized, injured or just shy to try yoga for the first time. We also offer an unlimited month pack for those who would like to try a variety of classes. We also offer private classes.