There are a myriad of benefits that a yoga practice brings into one’s life in the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental layers of one’s being. Even if one doesn’t regularly practice yoga, its benefits can still be felt after a single practice. Yoga has a powerful impact on one’s existence, and its consistent benefits are what continually pull people back to their mats. In these challenging and secluded times, integrating a daily yoga practice into one’s life is especially important. As with a bricklayer who places brick after brick to build something substantial, the greatest blessings of yoga arrive through a daily practice. Below are just a handful of the side effects of practicing regularly:
1. Yoga helps us reconnect with ourselves and remember our true nature.
At the center of our being is the source of pure love, but we often lose sight of this through the turmoil and restlessness of our daily lives. There is an opportunity through yoga to reconnect to the purity of our being and remember once more that there is a force of stillness within us that endures through everything. Love and peace are rooted at the core of who we are, and that truth remains despite the ever-changing aspects of our lives.
2. Yoga offers guidance through moments of adversity.
As we practice regularly, yoga builds itself into our lives as a lighthouse that guides us, over and over again, back to the center of ourselves where there is stillness and peace. Even when the waters are choppy in a global sea of uncertainty (as they are now in the midst of COVID-19) our practice remains steady as a beacon of light that guides us through adversity. Throughout our lives we experience moments of ease and moments of anxiety, but like a ship on the ever-changing tides, we can always find the lighthouse despite the environment around us.
3. Yoga reduces stress and anxiety while promoting ease and joy.
Stress and anxiety are often if not always the result of getting too caught up in the stories and chatter that originate in the mind and take us on long and distant journeys into the past and the future. The moment we step onto our mats, we begin the process of refocusing our attention from the mind and into our bodies. By engaging in conscious breathing and linking breath with movement, we modulate the stress response system and create more space in our lives for ease and joy.
4. Yoga encourages compassion and understanding of others.
When we’re caught in the daily fog and entangled in the mind’s drama, we have less capacity to express compassion for others or take the time and effort to really understand them. On the other hand, when we feel relaxed and have a sense of spaciousness in the mind, we’re better able to connect with others in a meaningful and wholehearted way. By being free of ourselves we welcome others in, and we can best do that by cultivating a consistent practice in our lives.
5. A regular practice increases strength and flexibility.
In addition to the incredible impacts that yoga has on one’s spiritual, emotional, and mental health, it also has a substantial impact on one’s strength and flexibility through Asana, or yoga postures. As we age, our bodies naturally tighten and lose the mobility they once had when we were children. But through a daily yoga practice, we can significantly slow that process and maintain elasticity in our muscles and joints. Just as yoga supports the mind to expand and become softer, it encourages the body to do the same by moving it through sequences and holding specific postures to stretch and strengthen the muscles, ligaments, and other connective tissues. When we have the ability to move freely through the world like a child, we have a deeper and more joyful experience of life.
6. We are invited to come back to the present moment.
As Patañjali said, yoga reminds us that the present moment is the only place where life truly exists. By shifting our attention to our physical sensations and the cyclical inhale and exhale of the breath, the practice of yoga offers an eternal invitation to refocus our presence in this moment, the one that is always happening now. In the present moment, we can readily access gratitude and peace by remembering our true nature and remembering that everything really is okay.
At Yoga Samadhi, we know how important it is to continually find our way to our mats, especially in times of uncertainty and adversity. Despite a temporary studio closure, we are still offering several opportunities to support you in committing to a regular practice. These opportunities include online live classes, private sessions with select teachers, and two new online programs: Breathe with Me and Be a Rebel. Breathe with Me is led by Crystal Borup, owner of Yoga Samadhi, and is designed to help you relax, reduce stress, become more centered, connected, and aligned with your own inner truth. Taught by Jo Matson, Be a Rebel is a program to help you create a routine of self care, self discover, and self love through the teachings of Ayurveda.
Though the benefits of a yoga practice initially arrive on our mats, a regular practice expands those benefits as they permeate into our daily lives beyond the four corners of our mats. We’re the bricklayers of our own lives and each moment we practice yoga we are placing another brick on top of another. One brick matters, but what the bricks (or moments we practice) create together is what’s especially powerful. The possibilities of what we can build for ourselves through regular practice are endless. Yoga is always there; we’re the ones it’s waiting for.