Yoga is an ancient approach to health that dates back many thousands of years. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not merely a question of becoming more supple or being able to touch your toes. Yoga is so much more than that.
It’s ultimately about understanding and transforming yourself. Yoga combines stretches and positions with breathing exercises and meditations, all designed to change our outlook on life and to help us focus on what is truly important. It has been described as the journey of the self, to the self, through the self.
Awareness and being present are vital aspects of yoga, especially being conscious of your breathing and the rhythms of your body. By appreciating your body more, you’re more likely to take care of it through eating the right foods, exercising and resting.
In today’s over-connected, too-fast world, spending a few minutes alone on your yoga mat or at a class can help you to reconnect with what’s truly important, and ground yourself in calmness and peace. It’s a respite from the traffic and the emails and all the gadgets clamouring ceaselessly for our attention. Yoga does of course have physical benefits, not least by helping improve your posture (if you’re reading this sitting down in front of a computer, you might want to sign up for some lessons). As a weight-bearing exercise, it can strengthen your bones, which is particularly important for menopausal women who may be experiencing symptoms of osteoporosis.
Yoga also burns some calories and helps boost your circulation, helping you to feel lighter and more energised. Increased self-awareness could be yoga’s greatest single benefit – when you become more conscious of your body, you’re less likely to mistreat it. Can you imagine eating junk food from a drive-thru on the way home from a yoga class? Of course not!
The natural high (a mix of adrenaline and serotonin) you get from a good yoga session can endure for hours, and it’s addictive. In other words, you want to keep feeling this good! Later that same day, you’ll find that you enjoy better, deeper sleep – again, that’s thanks to the sustained relaxing power of yoga.
Yoga could even help in your personal relationships – as a calmer, more grounded person with higher self-esteem, you’re likely to be an even better husband or wife. And if you’re looking for the perfect spot to practice yoga, there’s nowhere quite like a garden at dawn. Walking barefoot through dewy grass keeps you grounded – literally – and lets you connect with the Earth’s energy as you greet the sun. Trust me on this one!