You may have noticed that a regular yoga practice blesses you with many benefits. The practice of yoga touches us on many levels and we carry what we learn and experience on our mats with us into our daily lives.
Once I discovered the transformational powers and benefits of yoga, I was hooked. This ancient practice has given me insight, awareness, stillness, support, encouragement, happiness, bliss and has brought up deeply stored emotions (which I didn't even knew I was holding and was then able to let go), tears, and released stress, tension, and anxiety.
Yoga has been a light on my path and has supported me in following my heart.~Tanja Alexandra Kern
Through my own practice, and by teaching yoga, I have discovered incredible transformational benefits you'll get from a consistent yoga practice.
1. Physical Health
Yoga helps support your immune system, regulates your blood pressure and heart rate, encourages weight-loss, reduces blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Even in case of disease there are many yoga poses that are recommended to speed up the healing powers of the body. Breath work (pranayama) also benefits our health and overall well-being greatly.
You will notice, even just after a few weeks of regular yoga practice, that you are gaining strength. And not just physical, muscle strength but also in mind and spirit.
Your self-confidence increases, and you become a stronger person inside and out. This strength allows you to take care of yourself first and affirm yourself through kindness, love and compassion.
Yoga will show you the way to become more flexible without pushing yourself. The process will happen naturally and gradually. Similar to strength as mentioned above, the flexibility referred to here can be applied to the physical body as well as the mental and spiritual aspect.
As we cultivate flexibility in our body, mind, and spirit, we are in the flow of life. We let go of resistance and attachment, and open ourselves to new opportunities.
We tend to lose balance as we age. I remember that my grandmother was pretty healthy up until the moment she fell and broke her hip. Yoga supports us in gaining more balance every time we practice.
The more we practice our balance through yoga, the better we get at it. When balancing, we focus at a still point ("Drishti" in Sanskrit), and practice "Dharana" (concentration). This ability to hold drishti and maintain focus and concentration supports us in accessing those precious moments of stillness in the now.
I like to think of the breath and asanas as a dance; with the breath leading and the asana following along. We link our asanas to our breath and flow in and out of poses to the rhythm of our breath.
As we practice, the breath remains, the asanas change. When we practice more vigorous or challenging asanas, we feel the quality of our breath changing. By being mindful, we can choose to come into a modification of the pose, slow down or rest in Child's pose for a moment.
As we stay with our breath and each asana, relax into each pose and enjoy every second of your yoga practice, we cultivate mindfulness and inner peace.
By practicing mindfulness, we become the witness of our own practice, thoughts, emotions, needs and physical sensations. Now, as we notice thoughts or emotions arising, we can choose to acknowledge them and let them go.
Yoga is a powerful mindfulness practice inviting us with every breath and every movement to be in the present moment, to enjoy being in the now. By being fully alive in the present moment, we don't think or worry about the past or future. We bring awareness to thoughts arising, notice them, and then consciously let them go.
Now you can return to your breath, your yoga pose, the present moment. When staying aware and present in your practice, you will feel peaceful, balanced, calm yet energized, and maybe even radiant and blissful.
As we cultivate mindfulness and practice awareness, we can't help but feel grateful. After taking a few rounds of deep, slow and smooth in- and exhales, bring your attention to your heart center and ponder upon the question: "What have I been given today?" or "What am I grateful for in this moment?"
Both questions will count your blessings and appreciate the abundance in your life. As you accept where you are, and appreciate all the gifts in your life (e.g. waking up healthy, a beautiful sunrise, warm bed, etc.), you are creating more abundance and blessings in your life.
Being grateful and realizing what you have been given will make you feel content and fill your heart with gratitude, compassion, and appreciation.
“Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough”
Patañjali's Yoga Sutras, verse II-46 "Sthira Sukham Asanam" can be translated as "Your pose should be steady, comfortable and enjoyable."
By applying awareness and mindfulness to every pose, we can experience joy and delight in every moment. We are fully alive, and even when our asanas may be challenging, we can come back to the breath, observe ourselves, listen within, soften, and return to the joy of practicing.
Yoga teaches us to be ourselves, knowing that we are accepted for who we are. We are safe to go deep, and release old stored stressful emotions that may rise to the surface. We let go of what no longer serves us and make space for new and wonderful experiences.
Please let me know what transformational benefits you have been receiving from your yoga practice and add on to my list!