“Yoga is the artwork of awareness on the canvas of body, mind, and soul” – Amit Ray
10 years ago, one of my dearest friends committed suicide. She had struggled with a cocaine addiction for a long time and she also had to deal with the side effects of the life she led: a dealer for an ex-boyfriend, a broken family and an almost complete lack of self-esteem. Just before she took the poison that ended her life she left a voicemail on her mother’s cellphone saying “I just don’t know what else to do.”
This experience marked me forever, and I started considering what I could have done to prevent it, which lead me to a load of guilt and self-loathing that only ended when a friend asked me to go to a yoga class with her. My yoga instructor was practically a miracle worker for me: he took my shattered soul, my confused mind, and uncoordinated body and turned them into a single and harmonious being; he turned me into someone capable of compassion not just for other people, but with myself, someone tolerant, patient and above all, someone at peace with the world.
Yoga is much more than what most people consider, it is not just a way of exercising one’s body, it is also a path to nourish one’s soul and transcend so many of the mental barriers we give ourselves. And just to point out some of its major assets, here goes a list of the 4 most amazing benefits you can get from practicing yoga.
1. Yoga relieves stress.
Our everyday lives are filled with stress: phones ringing, lines we have to make, angry people around us, work overloads, traffic jams, all of which can lead to more serious health consequences such as chronic headaches or even heart attacks.
Yoga is generally practiced in environments where either nature or a very minimalistic decoration is present, which helps the mind relax and feel more at ease. Many yoga instructors suggest that their students find at least a couple of minutes a day to clear their minds and practice a couple of yoga exercises, and this way deal with their lives with a clearer head and a greater focus. Therefore practicing yoga on a regular basis helps to reduce the considerable amount of health problems derived from stress.
2. Yoga improves your immune system.
As it is well known and preached by physicians, sometimes the problems we have in our lives transcend the realm of the mind and enter our bodies in the form of illnesses. Troubled and/or stressed people are prone to diseases since their immune systems are not working as effectively as they can; being a part of the nervous system, the spine (the organ in charge of producing our bodies’ defenses) is affected by our emotions and therefore can be altered in its proper functioning and enter a vicious circle in which we get sick because we are troubled and we get even more troubled because we are constantly sick.
Here is where yoga brings what I consider is its best benefit: yoga helps us balance our minds and assume our everyday lives with a calmer disposition, when practicing yoga you feel in control of your body, your emotions and in general, your life, which leads to a better functioning of our nervous system, our spine and by extension, our immune system.
3. Yoga helps you live today.
Nowadays, we live constantly worried about what has happened in life, or what is yet to come and we invest no time in living or enjoying what is actually happening right now, which usually leads us to feel overwhelmed by everything that surrounds us and the things we have to do daily.
Yoga exercises our minds’ focus by centering our thoughts on particular chores, movements and attitudes, which is why its constant practice, paired with mindful meditation can also the way we look at everyday life as it enables us to isolate and hierarchize our tasks and lead our routines in an organized way to help us avoid focusing on anything that is not our present time.
4. Yoga gives you inner peace.
We are all familiar with that feeling of peace we get from visiting certain places, there are sceneries that relax our senses and give us a calm and restful sense towards life. These images can be easily portrayed during yoga sessions, providing our soul and our mind backgrounds that stimulate our inner peace.
These types of experiences develop positive attitudes and feelings such as compassion and tolerance which contributes to building a more balanced lifestyle, one that allows us to look at the world with new eyes.
All of these benefits have given me a whole new perspective not only on the horrifying events related to my friend’s death but on my life itself, it helped me understand that I am the only person in charge of my destiny so I am the one that should take charge of any emotion that comes my way.
Yoga can improve our lives greatly, it can teach us the path to a balanced and harmonious existence, and, paired with practices such as mindful meditation and mindful eating, you will soon find yourself on a healthy path that will enhance your life experience.