Sunday, April 10, 2011

April~ teaching of the month: Exploring what Yoga is + the benefits of practice

Exploring what Yoga is + the benefits of practicing...

All month in the studio and on our blog we will explore the meaning of Yoga and ways in which regular practice benefits real life. Yoga means "union" or "to yoke, or join". Yoga practice includes numerous styles and types of techniques, the most common being meditation, poses, specific dietary choices, breathing techniques, voluntary service to others, study of philosophy and chanting. Yoga science came out of India, with some practices rooted in philosophical teachings as old as 3,000 years or much more.
Since the philosophy is based in psychology and simple morality, the teachings are timeless and universally applicable. They in fact, compliment and encourage a deepening of one's own spiritual path. The purpose of practice is to create unshakeable health and peace in the mind and body; to encourage "mindfulness", a more open but focused level of attention, which joins mind with body in the present moment; and ultimately, to achieve enlightenment, which is defined as the realization of the ultimate oneness of being, the oneness of all life. (more on enlightenment another month!)
Sadhana, or Yogic practice, can consist of a many or as few components as you wish. The most basic components would be poses, meditation, mindfulness, and some form of study with a teacher or books. In order to redeem benefits, one must practice consisently over time, even if it is only once each week. The effect is cumulative- the skills develop over time. Practicing 2-3 times per week is even better, and 6-7 days per week is ideal.
Benefits manifest through the body and mind, on and off the Yoga mat. Here are some common benefits, but not the only possibilities:

  • increased flexibility, strength, muscle tone
  • maintain and come to a natural, healthy weight
  • reduced aches and pains
  • improved posture, which carries numerous benefits unto itself, including protecting joints from abnormal wear
  • improved immunity, digestion
  • stimulating and re-aligning spine, encouraging optimal nerve functioning
  • tonifying all major organs and glands, benefiting overall health and wellness, disease management + prevention
  • increased mental clarity and focus
  • increased self-confidence, self-image
  • increased patience, calm and ability to handle stress comfortably
  • reduced effects or occurance of anxiety and depression
  • increased positivity, satisfaction in life, everyday happiness
  • inspires and encourages creativity
  • benefits interpersonal relationships and conflict resolution skills
  • heightened body awareness and mindfulness (which contain numerous benefits as well)
Yoga practice is well worth the time, as it benefits every aspect of health and life. It only requires that we are interested and regular in our efforts. It is said that when the student is ready the teacher will arrive. If you want to manifest these benefits and more, just practice. It will unfold in the best way for your path.
Offered with Love,
~Laura Harrison

yogini, environmentalist, artist, activist, creator of Natural Yoga Method, founder of Enlighten

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