When most people think of Yoga, they think of a series of postures that increase flexibility in the body, meditation and relaxation. Yoga is seen as a very physical activity and lumped into ‘physical exercise’ categories of activity.
When I began my Yoga teacher training, I was under this impression too. I thought that I would learn to teach an exercise class, and considered little more. I loved my yoga classes and sessions, and loved the effect it had on my body. I knew it relaxed and calmed me as well, even though I didn’t enjoy the relaxation or breathing exercises one bit!
Within just a few hours of starting the training, I was discovering previously unknown elements of Yoga, and as I learned more about how Yoga is, I was able to see the potential that it offered, not just to change my body, but to transform my life.
Yoga and the Body
Yoga postures will promote strength, flexibility, and increase your muscle tone and stamina. The postures work on all levels of your body, so may affect your metabolism and digestive system, improving weight loss. The reduction in stress will reduce the likelihood of comfort eating and ‘stress fat’ created by excessive cortisol.
But a ‘body beautiful’ is not the goal of yoga. You will gain a healthy, strong body that will serve you well throughout your life if you practice yoga, but more importantly, you will develop a healthier relationship with your body. Yoga is about so much more than how we look on the outside; in fact, concerns about external appearances are the very opposite of the goals of Yoga.
Yoga teaches us that we are NOT the body, we are not the mind, we are the soul that inhabits the body and the mind. We must take care of the body, as it is the vehicle for the soul, but the purpose of Yoga is to promote self awareness, acceptance, and healthy interaction with ourself and the rest of the world.
Yoga for Life
Yoga is not an exercise system, it is a life system. The postures are just one part of the whole system of Yoga. Through the postures we develop awareness, gain connection to the body, and learn to be still, strong, disciplined, flexible and focused in mind and body.
Yoga offers a holistic path to phenomenal personal growth. In its true form its goal is nothing less than complete spiritual enlightenment, which you cannot get from a mere exercise class!
Yoga teaches you to develop awareness of your thoughts, your actions, how you treat other people, yourself, the planet. It offers a path to acceptance, contentment, inner peace and true happiness, the sort of happiness that doesn’t rely on good things happening to you.
Yoga offers tools and practices that can increase your resilience to stress, help you sleep better and increase your energy levels, increase focus and clarity and connect you to your personal definition of spirituality. If you have a religious faith, yoga can enhance the teachings of that faith, and strengthen your faith and commitment.
Yoga can light the path to total transformation in life. I personally was able to walk away from an alcohol, cigarette and drug habit (dependency) that had been a core part of my identity for my entire adult life, and to do so with joy.
It can help you to instil new habits into your life, and remove unhelpful ones.
Yoga is a transformative system for personal growth. It is SO much more than getting a thin and bendy body!
A Life Transformed by Yoga
My life changed radically when I learned this lesson that Yoga was about more than the flexibility and look of my body. Taking Yoga deeper into my life allowed me to begin a truly transformative journey that allowed me to become a person I could have only dreamed of being before. You too can benefit from the lessons I learned when you read my first book, Bent Back into Shape, Beating Addiction through Yoga. It has already helped many people, not all of them with addiction problems. The same tools that helped me conquer addiction can help you to make whatever changes you seek in your life.
Find out more about the book here