31 Oct How yoga can change your life for the better
I wanted to write this article, not necessarily to hand hold you through the ups and downs of my 200 hours of intensive yoga teacher training course in India (that would be looooong and emotionally draining for us both) but to try and articulate what yoga means to me after living, eating and breathing it every day for four weeks. I went into the experience without too many expectations; yoga made me feel great and it alleviated the majority of niggles I felt from years of sport and a hardcore exercise regime. Having experienced these benefits for myself, I wanted to know more so I could authentically share with my tribe! Now, I feel like I have a little more insight into why a few crazy poses on a mat can bring more joy to your life and actually make you a better person. I hope this article inspires you to give it a go!
Below are my top six insights as to why yoga can change your life…for the better…
#1 Yoga will help you develop a real appreciation for your body.
Those “Bendy Wendys” all over Instagram look amazing but for 99% of us, we will never ever look like them and be able to do the tricks that they do, because our bodies just weren’t built that way! Through yoga, I have developed a real understanding of the uniqueness of my body – no matter how hard I try or how often I sit in the splits my highly compressed skeleton will always restrict me when it comes to certain postures! I have learnt to accept what my body will never do and appreciate everything that it can do. I can run fast and jump high thanks to my compressed skeleton…but most importantly, my healthy body carries me around allowing me to experience all of the joys in this beautiful thing we call life!
#2 Yoga provides a framework for you to be a better person.
I have always struggled with he dogma often associated with religion and so despite the fact that I appreciated a lot of the morals and ethics buried within certain religions, I resisted on the basis that worshipping a “God” felt weird a bit too rigid to me. The teachings of yoga provide a guideline of how to live life as a better human being and I am slowly working through these guidelines applying the principles that feel most important to me at any point in time. By working through some of the philosophical questions and theories, it has helped me to escape the limitations of the mind and live more consciously and without judgement.
#3 Yoga helps you to ditch the unhelpful comparisons.
Yoga is one of the only forms of exercise where I turn completely inwards – staying completely focussed on my own practice. The skill required to master the intricate postures and keep the breath and movement in perfect harmony means that there is little space to be looking around and comparing headstands! By turning your attention inwards, into an almost meditative state, you are completely focussed on the here and now, on your own unique yoga experience and not worrying about how you stack up versus the rest of the class! I often don’t even notice if someone I know is stood right beside me!
#4 Yoga makes you stronger.
Say whaaaaaaaat? As I mentioned in the intro, yoga was initially an activity to enable me to stretch my body after building my strength and fitness through other forms of exercise. Now, I realise that yoga has actually created a lot of my strength as although I may not be “lifting weights”, I’m lifting my own body weight, which often takes more skill, strength, and determination. Give Rocket Yoga a shot and see what I mean!
#5 Yoga helps you to find more joy in the journey.
So many of us, especially those who are highly driven and goal focussed, become extremely attached to an outcome and when we don’t achieve a targeted outcome, we can feel frustrated and unfulfilled. What I love about yoga is that it is a never ending journey. With every practice you master something new – whether that is a fancy pose or the feeling of being more relaxed and focussed. I never feel as though I am striving for anything in yoga. I love being on the mat and experiencing the joy of what shows up for me in every single practice.
#6 Yoga increases self awareness.
I do a lot of work on mindfulness and this tool is something I use a lot with my clients. Yoga is the most amazing vehicle for practising mindfulness – for noticing when your mind is wandering and gently bringing yourself back to the present moment. The benefit I’ve experienced of doing this regularly is that I become much more skilful at getting out of my head (dwelling on the past and worrying about the future) and observing what is happening with me at any point in time. This ability to notice means that I can consciously choose the actions I take and make decisions aligned to my heart as opposed to being unconsciously dragged through life!
#7 Yoga is the best stress buster EVER!
I first took up yoga when I was working 14 hour days, struggling to keep on top of everything at work, neglecting my health and feeling utterly exhausted. I was having difficulty finding time to eat, never mind do yoga, but lucky for me I’d been reading a lot about the health impacts of stress and I knew I needed to take some action to get my health in check. I started with just 2 x 1 hour classes per week…at this point in time it was my only form of exercise…and it was a game changer. This little “time out” away from the treadmill of life just gave me chance to breath and to gain some perspective. I immediately felt calmer, more clear and more in control of my life. It was these immediate benefits in a time of major stress that made me keep going back for more – making time in my schedule for my cortisol busting yoga practice.
Warning: I may have been brainwashed by a yoga cult!! If that is the case though, brainwash away as yoga has provided me so much joy in my life and benefits way beyond what I could summarise in this article! Hope I can make beautiful, heart centred yogis out of you all!