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10 Benefits of Practicing Yoga

It is undeniable that a Yoga practice provides us with better health, internally and externally.

It is healing and transformative for all and the potential for every individual is huge! But how huge? Can it really do that much? Keep reading to find out…

There are so many benefits of Yoga, keeping to just 10 is not easy! Here's my Top 10.

  1. Loving Yourself

  2. Flexibility

  3. Breath

  4. Sitting With The Uncomfortable

  5. Mindfulness

  6. Posture

  7. Strength

  8. Keeping You Young

  9. Healthier Choices

  10. Community

This blog will serve as a light introduction to the benefits of Yoga.

Happy reading!

1. Loving Yourself

Low self-esteem is a problem many of us struggle with, either constantly or at certain times, integrating a Yoga practice can support you in your journey to loving and accepting yourself. Begin to truly appreciate that you have a body, a body that allows you to move, a body that you can touch and feel with, a body that can adapt and evolve in many different ways. Making peace with your body, landing at the wisdom that everyone’s body is individual, is unique, is special to them and for them. This acceptance then moves further afield into accepting your Yoga journey is unique, there is no comparison with anyone else, there is only you and your mat. You begin to celebrate your learning process and rejoice in your developments as they are real and tangible and experienced by you in a visceral way. There is a level of intimacy, and a pleasant connection that can be reached. The time you are on your mat, is time wholly given to connecting and showering love upon your being and you learn to focus not on your bodies limitations but the amazing things your body can do.

“Yoga helps you to find your true seat of power”

2. Flexibility

Now this is a big one, especially as I have lost count the number of times people have said they ‘can’t’ do Yoga as they are not flexible. If I compare myself to dancers, I am not flexible either but through my Yoga practice my flexibility has improved greatly. It may be weeks or even months, before you notice a difference but over time, you will begin to see it and it won’t just look good, it will feel good too. Very good. Many issues like lower back pain are likely to be due to tight hips and hamstrings. Creating more mobility in the body can significantly reduce pain and prevent further issues. The beauty of asana’s is that they stretch the body and create the much needed intercellular space for prana (energy) to flow freely; where there is prana, there is wellness. Not only is flexibility important for joint and posture health, movement and mobility but your deep tissues act as electrical super conductors and the more flexible you are, the easier it is for the energy to flow. Unblock your body. Feel and move more youthfully. Feel lighter, clearer and open up to create more mobility in this beautiful body you’ve been gifted with.

“Yoga is about rising to a new level of balance and competence in all aspects of life” - Sadhguru

3. Breath

Although we all know breath is our very life force, the journey into greater breath is not widely taught, especially in the West. Yoga is a very effective tool in helping us to explore breath patterns and deepen our breath to aid states such as calmness and relaxation. Most people associate the breath with just the lungs, but the key player is what is known as the diaphragm which moves up and down and controls the pace and depth of the breath. Strengthening this muscle over time through a Yoga practice can bring great benefit; breathing down into our stomach allows for a greater flow of chi/ prana in the body and with our gut being our ’second brain’, the circulation of energy to this area can be a real game changer when dealing with or eliminating symptoms of anxiety and stress. Humming Bee pranayama exercises are especially good for combatting anxiety Kapalllabhati breath is a powerful practice to clear the lungs and enhance their capacity. These are only 2 of the many breathing practices that are used in Yoga, check out our videos to find out more!

“A regular practice can help you to become more mentally robust and resilient to stress”

4. Sitting with the uncomfortable

Yoga is designed to take you through a journey of uncomfortability as a way of training the body and mind. When you enter an asana that highlights areas of tightness or weakness the support of your breath and the focus on the action of inhaling and exhaling allows you to get through the discomfort. The messages from your mind and body may be loud but we learn that with all discomfort we have the choice to not react. Actively remaining in your asana despite this mental noise brings a healthy separateness from mind and body. Coming out of your body, out of your mind and into your breath is then a tool you can use in your daily life. We have all reacted at times we wish we hadn’t or reached for unhealthy food/substances. You begin to understand that you are not your thoughts, they don’t have to define you and you can choose what to do with them. In fact, you can just observe them from a neutral standpoint and be the witness who is totally in control. This is liberating for many, and as your practice grows, so will your tolerance, your acceptance and your inner -strength.

“Yoga strengthens the power of the mind and our control over sub-conscious programmes which can take us off track”

5. Mindfulness

Due to its meditative nature, Yoga does in fact hold the capacity to change your brain. From neural regeneration, to improved attention, memory, stress resilience and emotional regulation, it gives you the opportunity to sharpen internal tools for you to restore balance regardless of external circumstances. In a world that is so fast-paced, with many of us frantic over to - do lists and goal attainment, coming back to the present moment is vital to cultivating overall wellness. Taking time to step onto our mat, whether it be for 10 minutes or an hour, is a sure-fast way to drop into what it means to be alive. Noticing how the ground feels beneath our feet, or appreciating our environment or the way we feel in our bodies in that very moment is a wonderful habit to foster greater connection, gratitude and love for life.

“Yoga emphasises the development of pro social emotions such as compassion, kindness and trust”

6. Posture

Yoga is amazingly effective at improving posture as it works on the muscle groups that are integral to holding the body up in its natural way. Strength, endurance and correct alignment of the body are all promoted through Yoga. This has a positive knock on effect on many areas of our lives. As we hold ourselves in good posture the lungs aren’t compressed which allows us to reach our breath capacity, meaning there is a clear channel for energy and vital nutrients to flow and in turn thinking power, concentration and vitality are improved.

“When your bones and joints are in correct alignment, it allows the muscles to be used as they’re intended, so you’ll have less fatigue and more energy”

7. Strength

Strength is often associated with regular weight lifting at the gym, but what if you could increase your muscle tone using your own body weight? Well, with a Yoga practice, improved strength is absolutely a result… and it gets better… whereaslifting heavy weights contracts and tightens the muscles, the asana’s in Yoga lengthen and stretch the muscles whilst building them simultaneously. Upper arm, core and leg strength will be notably more worked as you posture yourself in down ward dogs, planks, one leg - balances and lunges to name a few. Building strength in this way is also a really recommended way to reduce pain, especially in the lower back. Muscles are corresponded to each other in many many ways around the body and so working with each muscle group, at least once per week, through something like a Yoga practice, can ease strain and imbalances in your body with long- term effects.

“Yoga has a great capacity to help people heal and overcome challenges”

8. Keeping You Young

There are many anti-ageing benefits of Yoga, from relieving achy joints and reducing chronic pain to improving the immune system and growing longer telomere’s (the youth-giving ends of DNA), Yoga really is a transformative practice.

People who practiced Yoga regularly for at least 2 years had longer telomeres—the youth-giving ends of DNA—than those who didn't.

Women who did 35 minutes of Yoga daily for 12 weeks had a 94% lower increase in cortisol during stressful situations compared to the control group, and too much cortisol has been shown to weaken the immune system.

Reduce chronic pain, relieve achy joints, improve immune system, prevent and relieve symptoms of arthritis

“Yoga is a method, a means, a technology through which you can change the shape of who you are”

9. Healthier choices

As you begin to enjoy experiencing life through the lens of a Yogi, there will be shifts in your decisions, choices and perspectives. You might find yourself letting go of desire, moving away from negative stresses… and maintaining an effort to direct your compass towards peace, love…Nirvana even. You’ll find yourself naturally gravitating towards positive behaviours, outlooks and goals in life which serve the core of who you are. Embracing the combination of Yoga asana and Yoga philosophy will develop you in multiple ways, and the inner radiance and clarity you feel on the mat will help to guide you when off of it.

“Eventually, the person is able to develop internal resources that help them become aware of greater self-love”. These positive associations with our inner selves help establish a positive feedback loop which eventually eases us out of negative emotional patterns.

10. Community

This one wasn’t one I ever thought about before I started you. I don’t think it would be a benefit as I hadn’t experienced it and it’s one of those things you have to experience to understand. Community in itself is a beautiful thing, but community built upon a solid foundation of values, principles and philosophies supercharges the effect and influence it can have on you. The Yoga community is a trusted space where people are all on a journey towards growth and better health; connecting with their bodies, learning to be more present, loving and accepting of themselves, others and the journey that is life. A sense of belonging can do wonders for the psyche and the support given to others at whatever stage of their journey makes the Yoga community a special one and I for one am so very grateful for it.

Being a part of my yoga community gives me this sense of unconditional love and acceptance that I haven't found anywhere else.

Sending you love,

Leyla x

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