1. Awareness & Acceptance of thoughts
It's commonly stated that you cannot change something unless you are aware of it. This could not be truer about the thoughts that we think. Until you become aware of your thoughts, how can you begin to change them to more helpful ones or even just accept them without getting caught up in them? Yoga helps you to understand that it is normal to think. At the beginning of my classes I inform you that thoughts will arise throughout the class and this is okay. We use the breath to help take our awareness out of thought and into the present moment.
2. Presence in the here and now
The last point rolls into this one. As outlined, the breath helps to bring our attention back to the present moment. When concentrating on the breath, one is aligned with the present moment. The past and the future are not important in that moment. All that matters is the here and now. It is there that you will find peace and finally silence from this frantic world we live in. Yoga allows us to find this place of peace and stillness within us and boy does it feel good!
3. Body awareness
Building body awareness is key. When I teach yoga I always inform my students to tune into their own bodies. Yes I give cues on how to achieve a particular posture however I also remind people to never go beyond their bodies limits on any given day. This can be applied to other areas of ones life. The more communication there is between brain and body the better as the body carries valuable information about our well-being. Yoga helps to connect body and mind.
4. Lowers cortisol levels (stress hormone)
The study conducted by J. Thirthalli 2013, illustrates that yoga helps to lower cortisol levels, which is also known as the stress hormone. It's my belief that awareness of thoughts, breath awareness & body awareness is what helps to bring about this shift in the body. Nowadays many people are living life in this heightened state. The adrenal glands continue to secrete cortisol in response. Yoga can help to take somebody out hyper-arousal and into the relaxation response through the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the adrenal glands and means day to day you are less reactive to stressors.
5. Improves posture & reduces muscular pain.
I have always had poor posture for as long as I can remember. I am tall and always hunched my shoulders as a result. Since deepening my yoga practice I have seen huge improvements in my posture without even setting this as a goal to achieve. I get much less muscle tension and pain in my neck and shoulders as a result of being aligned and the muscles no longer contracting.
I hope this inspires you in some way to take to the mat!
Sinead Keane Wellness