Why practice yoga?
The simple answer is that doing yoga makes us feel better. It heals, opens and strengthens the physical body and promotes a sense of well-being.
Yoga provides a time to recharge batteries. It works on the whole person engaging every fibre of the body; the joints, organs, glands, circulation, skin and nerves. It promotes strength, suppleness and vitality as well as bringing a sense of internal harmony and well-being. It reduces stress and increases energy levels and powers of concentration. Yoga is powerful because it is a completely worked-out process for change effecting the physical body, the mind, the emotions and the spirit.
All ages and levels of fitness and health can benefit from practicing yoga. Yoga also complements active sports people, for example, runners, cyclists and climbers, by promoting physical balance, mental alertness and helping prevent injury and discomfort.
As the mind quiets, the body opens to release unnecessary tensions and long-held emotions. The body develops balanced strength, flexibility and a stable core and there is a sense of greater poise and emotional equanimity.
Many people are drawn to yoga initially for the simple health and fitness benefits and for solutions to practical problem such as insomnia, back pain, stiffness, stress and anxiety, high blood pressure and breathing problems.
Regular practice also improves posture, muscle tone, flexibility, strength and stamina, concentration and circulation and relaxation. It can help you manage many conditions including:
- blood pressure
- chronic fatigue
In short yoga provides a firm foundation for health and proven benefits. For example take a look at the results of research carried out by Arthritis Research UK, which found that yoga is generally effective at relieving back pain (see p.48 for the information on yoga).
But to focus on the physical benefits is to miss the deeper transformative experience and power of yoga - that which enables us to reconnect with ourselves and find a place of profound inner peace and wellbeing.