For some, the attraction of yoga is, simply, the getting bendy part. And it’s no secret that regular practice improves flexibility, balance, and core strength. But did you know that some of the biggest benefits of practising yoga are the improvements it can have on your mental and emotional well-being?
“The physical benefits of yoga actually become side effects of what the mind creates as we develop awareness in our practice,” says Jackie Alexander, Co-Founder, Studio Manager, and Teaching Crew member at Humming Puppy in Melbourne.
“The physical practice of yoga challenges our minds and bodies through self-inquiry. All postures bring awareness to our physical bodies. We then notice areas that feel tight and inflexible, and this awareness provides us with the ability to shift our thinking inwards to consider areas in our lives where we are stubborn and rigid,” she continues.
My type, your type, all types!
The good news is, whether you favour the popular, energy boosting Hatha, the more purist elements of Anusara, or enjoy the challenge of increased temperature in Bikram, all styles of yoga deliver significant mental and emotional benefits. Each yoga form provides participants with a deeper connection to the self, a sense of stillness, a sense of calm and a balance to both the body and the mind.
It’s this unifying of the mind, body and spirit, and an integrated approach to the human health that assists in the creation of mental and emotional benefits.
“When we acknowledge that each part of ourselves is connected to another, we can appreciate that if one is suffering from illness, so to is another part of ourselves. Practicing yoga also allows us to develop greater self-control, inner awareness and well-being,” says Alexander.
Stress, depression, chronic fatigue? Yoga can help.
With regular practice, yoga can improve and treat a range of common and potentially destructive disorders. Muscular strength and flexibility improves, function of the cardiovascular and respiratory system are enhanced, stress is reduced and recovery from addictions, depression, chronic fatigue and pain are improved. Yoga positively effects the overall well being of the body and mind to increase our quality of life on a daily basis.
“Stress related disease is one of the most common in today’s society, and yoga is now viewed as a holistic approach to relieving stress…It produces a physiological chain of events that help the body reduce its stress response,” says Alexander.
So, with the multitude of benefits yoga has to offer participants, you should be bending over backwards to get involved, literally. But everyone is unique, so it’s important to practice in times and ways that suit you, with a level of awareness fitting your capabilities and needs.