Guest Author - Tracy Webb
Whether you are new to yoga or a seasoned practitioner, itís more than likely that you will be feeling the benefits of a regular practice. Making time each day or two to three times a week will reap many rewards that benefit your mind, body and spirit.
Here are 10 reasons to keep up your practice:
1. Increased Flexibility: It doesnít take long before you start to notice an increase in your flexibility. Perhaps when you started out you could only reach as far as your knees when bending over to touch your toes and now you can get much further.
The effect this has overall is immense. The body is freer and suppler so you are less likely to injure yourself through pulling tight and tense muscles. It also strengthens your practice and allows you to relax more into the postures/stretches without extra effort.
2. Increased Stamina: When you practice yoga and yogic breathing, you relax and are able to hold postures for longer. You become more in tune with the posture and increase your stamina in the process. This can be noticed when walking, climbing the stairs as well as in the yoga practice itself.
3. Increased Lung Capacity: Due to the nature of yoga and the breathing involved with each posture Ė could be Breath of Fire or another pranayama Ė your lung capacity is increased, the breath becomes more relaxed, deeper and less labored which in turn brings about a sense of calm and deep peace.
4. Increased Clarity of Mind: Yoga practice is very meditative and focusís the mind on every breath and move. Through this focus, we are more able to be in the present moment without the usual clamber of thoughts running through our mind. When in this state we are clearer in our thinking and ability to perform. A clear mind can also be helpful with our conditioned behaviors allowing us to respond to situations rather than react to them.
5. Increased Positivity: When our minds are focused, our bodies relaxed and our breathing balanced we change our physiology and increase our happiness. The cumulative effect is experienced as an overall sense of well-being and a happier more positive outlook on life.
6. Reduction in Stress: All these benefits go hand in hand and one leads to the other. When we are relaxed, we are not stressed, and then we are more able to cope with lifeís daily challenges when in a positive frame of mind. Through consistent practice, yoga can bring a more relaxed attitude and less likelihood of being overwhelmed with stress.
7. Increased Youthfulness: It has been said that yoga and meditation makes the practitioner look younger than their years. Taking time out to calm the mind, focus on the breath and practice asana has a very beneficial effect on the skin. The blood is oxygenated, stress is reduced and wrinkles appear softer. Our skin takes on a youthful glow and our facial muscles relax.
8. Reduction of Aches and Pains: As our body ages we are more prone to aches and pains, muscle spasms and back problems. When we practice yoga we assist the body in staying strong and supple therefore reducing the causes of these annoying niggles. It is possible, through regular practice of yoga, to reduce joint pain, strengthen core muscles, which in turn strengthens the back and keeps minor and major injuries at bay.
9. Increased Health: Studies have shown that when we are stressed we are more susceptible to illness and emotional problems. Since having a yoga practice reduces stress we are more likely to stay healthy longer. Stress and a negative outlook have a devastating effect on the body and our health whereas a positive outlook and happy demeanor has trans-formative effects on us.
10. Increased Joy: For many laughter is not an everyday occurrence and some people have forgotten what itís like to laugh. When our minds are clear and we are not worrying unnecessarily we have more room for joy in our lives. We feel lighter, life becomes exciting again and laughter becomes a normal part of the day. Yoga helps us to be less serious through the calmness and clarity it can bring to our minds.
I hope you are experiencing some if not all of these benefits through your practice. You may have discovered other benefits I missed out. Without a doubt, regular and consistent practice will definitely increase your health and well-being.
Happy practicing and keep up the good work!
To find out more about how yoga assists the body, check out Yoga Anatomy.