Yoga is an ancient Vedic system native to India. Its traditionally used within the great cultures of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism and is now very commonly used in the west. In the west, its predominantly seen only as the postures but there is more to this sacred tradition.
The true power of yoga lies beyond only the postures and if using all the approaches, it helps practitioners find true happiness, freedom and perhaps even enlightenment. These ancient traditions include breath, poses, and concentration techniques. It's a holistic approach that acknowledges the connection of body, mind, and spirit. These disparate methods are aimed to connect you with your higher self through purification of the physical, mental and emotional bodies.
The physical poses are aimed at strengthening, opening and relaxing while combining the poses with breathing methods to release toxins, stress and tension. It also improves the organ system like the circulatory, respiratory, digestive, excretory, nervous and endocrine while balancing blood pressure and metabolism. Together all these elements result in increased tone and strength in muscles as well as increased flexibility, improved respiration, energy and vitality and weight reduction. Sounds like a winner to me!
The concentration of the practice allows you to bring in a state of clarity, focus and presence contrary to the overflow of stimulation and data that is thrown at us each and every day. By focusing attention inwards, you stimulate the brains performance associated with learning and memory offering better emotional regulation, sense of self as well as perspective.
The recognition of spirit is always unique and personal and not a one box fits all. There are no formal practices to invite spirit, but there the philosophy of nonviolence, compassion and gratitude which encourages us to live in alignment with oneself, nature and all beings. This is known as true yoga.
Most of us start with yoga on our mat which ultimately leads to the state of clam and connection felt after the class . Yoga doesn’t require you to have a level of fitness or flexibility to practice, only that you have the desire for a transformation through committing your entire self in heart, mind, and body.
Having said all that, here are a few ways to maximise your practice.
1. Take a friend – its always more enjoyable to practice with a friend. If you are starting something new it can be overwhelming, so bring a buddy.
2. Find the teacher that works for you – There are many styles of yoga, from gentle to power and as well as teachers that focus on personal needs like trauma, grief, divorce, weight, anger ect. Research your teacher and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
3. Be consistent – Consistency is king but be patient with yourself. Set out a realistic goal for your weekly practice.
4. Have an open mind – Enjoy the journey and don’t compare yourself. Be open to what you can learn from a consistent practice. You will see incredible changes physically, emotionally and mentally.