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Benefits of Yoga, why you should develop a personal practice
March 2023 by Susan Greenham
I have practised yoga for over 15 years. I discovered and fell in love with yoga, I developed my practice over the years, in the beginning I used it to heal my body from the pain of arthritis and shoulder pain. Brought on by childbirth and through my lack of knowledge around protecting my body from muscle strain. At that time, I was living with pain on a daily basis, needless to say, I was not a happy bunny. Up until that point I was a physically active person, I enjoyed the gym, salsa dancing and swimming. So, as you can imagine, living in pain, seriously reduced my ability to live my life as I wanted and do the things I wanted to do. I certainly could not accept that. I digress only to provide some context and a bit of a back story!
This article is not just the normal run of the mill list of yoga benefits, there are plenty of those around. Don’t get me wrong the physical benefits of yoga are outstanding.
For me, as a form of exercise, it stands head and shoulders above many other physical fitness regimes. I speak from experience as a once regular gym user, swimmer and cyclist, which I still enjoy. However I found a regular yoga practice supports my all around wellness goals at a much higher level. A regular yoga practice is probably on par with swimming and walking as a good all-rounder for building stamina and supporting all around fitness goals such as cardio health. Yoga, when practiced regularly has the ability to improve flexibility. Quick question, can you touch your toes without bending your knees? Many people believe they are not flexible enough to practice yoga. I must have heard this misconception a million times. The truth is, as a beginner yogi, most are not are not at all flexible. That is the beauty of yoga, it meets you where you are, at any level you are at, and takes you on a beautiful journey of self-discovery.
Yoga also supports muscle strength which protects from arthritis and supports flexibility. How does it do this. Each time you practice yoga asanas such as forward bends, back bends and twists you are in essence ensuring nutrients from the food you eat is carried to the spine, keeping it supple and flexible. Although you can improve muscle strength in the gym, yoga also increases flexibility too. Known to reduce knee, back and overall joint pain through asanas that support the opening of the hips and chest, whist building a strong core. Strengthening the muscles and connectors to improve posture and reduce inflammation and pain.
For me Yoga wins first prize because it also supports a spiritual practice.
Yoga is where I go daily to check in with myself. I use yoga as a chance to focus 100% on me, my body, my mental health, my healing and my wellness. I use Yoga can support physical healing by providing and holding a space for connecting to our true selves. The true self which is vibrant and has the ability to nourish and sooth the body. Supporting your mental health reducing anxiety, stress and worry.
Yoga gets you ready for meditation. At then end of your practice you are in a perfect state to meditate as you have guided your mind to calm and become less busy. Through the focus on the breath (pranayama). The breath support the asanas (poses), bringing more oxygen into the body and calming the mind.