Benefits of Yoga
Written by Dee Oh (referencing Jennifer Fitzsimmons' Pathways Academy of Life Yoga Teacher Training and various other sources)
Yoga postures ("Asana") entail a more comprehensive benefit for the whole system of body, mind and spirit - not just the body.
There are numerous benefits and some are explained in more detail below:
CALMING OF THE MIND AND EMOTIONS - From a mind and spirit aspect, working on Asana helps calm the mind and emotions, slowing down the metabolic rate and breath, such that we become more mindful of the breath and how the length and depth of breathing highly affects our mood, emotions and state of mind. For example, when we are feeling anxious, flustered, angry or upset, our breath tends to be short and shallow, whereas it is long and deep whenever we feel calmer and more at peace.
When we practice our Asana, a good yoga teacher would keep encouraging the students to keep lengthening and deepening the breath as we move into each posture and holding each posture for extended periods of time to facilitate the ability for meditation.
So, contrary to many people's obsession and social media craze of going into physical postures for the sake of feeling a sense of achievement of being able to do this and that fancy pose for the sake of one's ego, a yogi who understands the true benefits and the spirit of practising yoga would be placing emphasis on the lengthening, deepening and synchronisation of the breath with the postures in preparation for a deeper experience in meditation after.
This is why at Dee Dream Life, all our yoga classes are structured in such a way that yoga Asanas are followed by Yoga Nidra guided meditation so as to allow the students to benefit fully from their yoga practice in a complete and wholesome way to achieve the balancing and healing of their body, mind and spirit.
CORRECTION OF POSTURE - consistent practice of yoga postures helps in correcting bad posture, straightening the spine, allowing free flow of energy through the body.
INCREASED ENERGY - Yoga also works on the body's vitality and rejuvenation centres in the brain, spine, glands and internal organs. It allows for increased and smoother flow of vital energy ("prana") through the stretching as the spine is straightened allowing the flow of energy up the 7 energy centres ("chakras"). Chanting and stretching also help stimulate the production of certain hormones and chemicals by the glands.
EASING STRESS AND TENSION - the body and mind are inter-related; when the mind has a tension knot, physical body will have a tension knot in the corresponding muscular physical part of the body. The practice of yoga will release the tension knots on a physical and mental level, thus inducing relaxation of the mind, body and spirit.
BETTER QUALITY SLEEP - induced relaxation in the mind and body will allow you to fall asleep more easily, have better quality sleep and rest to the body. Yoga helps to cure many of insomnia, the difficuly to fall alseep.
REMOVING TOXINS AND BLOCKAGES - cleansing the body, mind and spirit of any toxins, impurities, negativity and anything stuck in one's system helps people get rid of physical, mental and emotional disease. This removal of toxins may cause a beginner of yoga to feel dizzy, uneasy, headaches and more when they first begin their practice especially if there is a large amount of toxins that have accumulated in one's body, mind and spirit over time. The remedy to this is to continue to practise yoga until the toxins are completely removed from the body.
INCREASED BODY FLEXIBILITY - stretching helps the body become more flexible over time and consistent practice and soon you should be able to touch your toes, spread your legs into splits and move your toes to your forehead or beyond!
BECOMING MORE GRACEFUL - when the body becomes more supple, postures are more easily attained and movements become more graceful during yoga practice and also outside of yoga practice. As a professional dance teacher and performer, I find practising yoga tremendously useful in helping me become a more graceful and energetic dancer.
PHYSICAL STRENGTH - holding yourself in yoga postures for extended periods of time will inveitably help your body to strengthen the muscles involved and allow you to feel and be stronger physically
LOSING WEIGHT - weight loss may be attained from consistent practice of yoga if combined with a healthy diet (no guarantee of weight loss can be made for any form of physical exercise as our weight is determined by various number of factors aside from physical activity)
WHY ARE YOGA POSTURES NAMES AFTER ANIMALS? IS IT TO PRAY TO DIFFERENT HINDU ANIMAL GODS?
Do not be afraid that you are made to pray to some animal gods while going into the postures that are named after animals. Animals live in harmony with nature and their environment and with their own bodies (if allowed to live freely and not caged in by humans that is!), and this is what we humans are trying to achieve through our practice of yoga... having our body, mind and spirit functioning in balance and harmony internally and with our surroundings, regardless of what is going on around us.
NOTES FOR GETTING READY FOR YOUR FIRST YOGA CLASS
EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITIONS: anyone who is suffering from chronic medical conditions (including high blood pressure diabetes, cancer, etc), recuperating from an operation or has fractured/broken bones is advised to consult their medical practitioner/doctor before attending their first yoga class. Please advise your yoga instructor well in advance of the class (during registration) of the medical conditions, so that the instructor can advise you on which class to attend and he/she can try to tailor-make the class according to your specific needs.
- LISTEN TO YOUR BODY: Your body talks to you through signs and symptoms, so listen to it. At the beginning of every class, we also sit students down and make them mentally scan their bodies from head to toe to help them tune in to the signs and symptoms of each body part to the mind and spirit. You should pay particular attention to any tension spots, soreness and tiredness felt in some body parts and to not further strain these already exhausted areas and focus on healing, rehabilitating and rejuvenating them instead.
- WHAT IF I AM TOO STIFF AND NOT FLEXIBLE? Many first time students say "I can't do yoga because I am too stiff and not flexible at all". My dear student, this is exactly the reason why you need to do yoga!Stiffness and inflexibility in the beginning of your yoga practising journey is normal. Do not feel ashamed or inferior during the class that you are less flexible than others and the instructor. Yoga, just like life, is not a competition nor a comparison between you and others in the class. Focus on your own body and appreciate your own progress each time you proceed with your practice. Everyone will have their own rooms for improvement in their practice, be it mentally, physically or spiritually. Have some patience in yourself as progress in yoga, just like anything in life, takes prolonged, consistent, persistent, persevering, dedication and determination through challenges. Each time your practise, you will get further. If you give up after the first time because it is just too difficult, you will stay exactly where you are and never progress in yoga practice, whole health and your life in general.
SEE YOU ON THE YOGA MAT IN HUMBLE PEACE AND HARMONY.