Yoga, when practised with intention, is life affirming – life transforming! Even when done simply as exercise, we unknowingly have a holistic knock-on effect on the breath and the mind. Getting to know yourself by working with your abilities and limitations in your physical body can transform how you feel about yourself, and how you value yourself.
Here’s a few ways in which yoga can directly and indirectly affect the value you place on all the levels of yourself.
The Big Picture
At the beginning of yoga classes, I invite my students to ‘take your seat’. It is the cue to quieten the friendly banter and to come into the present, the now. And NOW this is yoga! It is the smallest of rituals, but in this quiet moment of silence, the mid space (known in Sanskrit as Madhya) between then (what’s gone before) and now, yoga practice, there is an invitation. The silence invites you to remember that when all the talking and laughing is done, there is nothing but space. Being aware of this space reminds us that we are part of a bigger Universal picture. We belong. Not only do we belong to the group that we meet up with week in, week out – which is in and of itself a strong social glue, WE BELONG on a cosmic level. We are ‘part of’, and not ‘apart from’. Chanting together reminds us of this connection – benefits of yoga that are often overlooked. This is a powerful message, and that’s before we even begin!
The Cauldron of the Body, Breath, Mind & Heart
When we practice yoga poses and link movement with the flow of our breath, a kind of alchemy happens. Our attention moves inwards as our mind steadies and focuses on the task at hand. When we begin the more subtle practices of breathwork/pranayama, chanting and meditation – our minds become more steady, and more present. There is much-documented evidence now about how the effects of yoga classes not only strengthen and improve the resilience of the musculoskeletal system (obvious, right?) with the different yoga poses but also enhances the function of the nervous system, brain chemicals and much more. We build inner resilience – another one of the benefits of yoga. We can handle the stresses of life better. We are more centred, and we become more of ourselves!
The Inner Guru
The tradition tells us that everything you need, you already have. You have the answers to all the questions and riddles of your life! You simply (or not so simply) have to listen with your inner ear and be able to hear that inner voice, the inner teacher. Life is noisy, and your senses pull you in all directions – think hunger, thirst, heat, cold and all the basics alongside FB, Insta, coffee, fun, well, anything really. With regular practice of yoga we begin to hear the voice of wisdom a little more and it affects the choices we make – especially as we start to master yoga poses. Here is a very basic example of what I mean. Once you have regular yoga practice and learn how to hold your spine in a neutral healthy position, it is almost impossible to sit with a slump! You automatically self-correct and sit and stand more confidently and have all the knock-on health benefits of good posture – underscoring yet another one of the benefits of yoga.
Process & Progress
All of this takes time. Yoga is a process – you do the same thing again and again. In a well-rounded practice (movement, stillness, breathwork, silence, space, awareness) we can measure the progress in many ways. You might notice that your body gets stronger and more flexible the more you practice your yoga poses – your posture improves, you sleep better, you naturally breathe more deeply, have more energy, feel more alive, feel happier more of the time and all round feel better. Life still goes on and has its challenges, but you are better able to handle the sticky and slimy ‘stuff’ of life – further amplifying the immense benefits of yoga.
The L’Oreal Insight – You are Worth It
All of the above reaffirm the simple truth, that you are worthy. You were born whole, full, complete. There is nothing you need, you are a completed work of art. This life is a gift in which you get to explore your inner worth. In yoga tradition, we are told that there is a part of us that is connected to the divine (whatever that means to you). You are a divine being. How could you be lacking in anything?
I know that feels hard to understand and relate to because we don’t always feel worthy and whole. But, through the practice of yoga we get to chip away at the inner coverings of our heart that hide that truth from us. These coverings are like veils that get placed over your light. As part of maturing as a human being, we veil ourselves in response to life, this is a good thing as we form our personality, keep safe and move on in our lives. The only problem might be that we hide ourselves so much that we completely forget the little light inside. Yoga is one way to remind you of your light and through the practice, you may get glimpses of your own innate beauty and joy, and this keeps you going back to the mat again and again. Because you’re worth it!
Don’t hide your light behind a bushel – let it shine. If you would like to know anymore about any of the yoga practices or concepts in this blog, just drop me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org