But first, a note on the Illusion of Separation
Yoga is a holistic practice, by which I mean that practicing yoga reveals the interconnected nature of your being, from the muscles and connective tissue to your thoughts and feelings, your emotions and memories, and even the unified field of awareness (often referred to as cosmic consciousness, or simply ‘God’).
In fact, ‘Yoga’ really is about the ‘union’ of body, mind, and spirit, and as any practitioner will discover, everything is connected, and your journey will reveal several overlapping benefits.
For example, a physical improvement may be the visible counterpart of benefit being felt on an emotional, mental, or even spiritual level. Yoga is truly a valuable and paradigm-shifting approach to wellbeing, especially if you allow yourself to remain open to experience widespread and interconnected benefits.
Despite this interconnection, this series will break down five key benefits of yoga that can be seen at the levels of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual to help you begin your yoga practice today. So, without further ado…
Five Physical Benefits of Yoga
LEVEL: Gross, tangible, root.
- Increase your strength and flexibility
This one is obvious, I know. However, it is a wonderful experience to watch your body transform to be stronger and more flexible. To be able to touch your toes when it was once impossible, increasing your range of motion over time, expanding your reach, opening your shoulders, allowing freedom of movement in your back, hips, legs, neck, and every other inch of your body. Building muscle also improves endurance as you bring more flexibility into your life.
2. Correct your posture
We have conditioned our body to take hindering forms for exceptionally long periods of the day. Consider how long you sit hunched over at your desk or flopped at an angle on your sofa. These repeated actions create misalignment at the fundamental level and can lead to chronic back and neck pain, joint problems, and breathing issues. Our bodies can feel much heavier and burdensome as a result. By practicing asana, you can bring your body back into alignment, and by extension, your life.
Bringing awareness to all of your limbs, how you’re standing, and your foundational contact with the ground drastically improves your connection to terra firma, and thus your ability to move across it with grace and ease. In Hatha yoga, there is a focus on balancing the left and right sides of the body as well as the hemispheres of the brain. Finding equilibrium in your physical world helps improve balance, prevent falls, increase bodily awareness, all of which result in you feeling lighter.
4. Care for your bones and joints
Bones are alive and can grow! If you hold your body in certain poses such as warrior or down-dog, over time the bones thicken and strengthen which makes breakages much less likely. The same goes for your joint health, and by regularly moving your entire body in a controlled and systematic fashion, you can keep your knees from locking up, keep your ankles running smoothly, and your neck loosey-goosey. Yoga has even proved to help prevent arthritis symptoms and increase the overall longevity of your physical processes.
5. Recover your nervous system
This is all centred around the spine, the central nervous system. By regularly bringing your awareness to this area in the form of stretching, arching, and backbends, you unlock knots of tensions held deep within. In fact, the disks of the spine need to be kept supple and juicy and it is only through loving movement that you can keep them healthy and your nervous system running at optimal level. Yoga is shown to stimulate the vagus nerve which has intrinsic connections with glandular health, the immune system, your electromagnetic output and is considered to be the physical platform of the more subtle energetic system of the body. You can even flush out your lymphatic system which is essentially a process of de-gunking your cells, making you feel fresh and strong, ready to tackle life’s challenges.
There are countless benefits to be had from practicing yoga, so why not see for yourself?