One year ago, I had the bright idea to publish one blog a week, for one year, totalling 50 reasons to do yoga in 2015. Early in the year my computer crashed, making the weekly blog an impossible commitment. By the time I got a new computer, I was four months behind on my 50 reasons to do yoga. Now it’s almost 2016, and here I am with time on my hands, to finally complete my 2015 blog project. Below are the final reasons you should have done yoga last year; please apply them to 2016!
#31 Rebalance the nervous system. Take a moment and think about your nervous system- your brain, your spinal cord and the nerves that run through your body. Think about all the messages that are constantly, even unconsciously, flying through your system. Yoga is based around the spine, on creating space between each vertebrae for those nerves. Yoga purposely includes sivasana at the end of every class, because it is the body’s opportunity to integrate the benefits of your stretching- and to SLOW EVERYTHING DOWN. If you are in overload, your nervous system is going to be in rough shape. Yoga gives it the chance to rest and rebalance to maintain optimum function.
#32 De-stresses! Yoga burns off stress through movement, it releases long held tension in the body through breathing, and it gives you the chance to stop everything else in life and just RELAX.
#33 Sets intention. I love, love, love how yoga can bring you back to yourself. It brings you home, into your own heart and into your own experiences of life. Often at the beginning of class, or end of class, I set an intention for my practice (or encourage my students to): both on and off the mat, and it can be anything. To bring love into your body, peace, relaxation, healing, etc.
#34 Manifest your dreams. Am I starting to sound a bit whacko? How the heck can yoga help you with manifestation? Well, step number one is above: it helps you set intention. One step further though, it helps keep you clear and focused on your dreams. Yoga has been the foundation of everything I have created in my most recent years. Without it I would likely be a (more) scatter brained mess. Of course, you need to know what it is you want to manifest!
#35 Self-care. Many people are people-pleasers and put themselves last. Self-care is vital if we really want to help others. Yoga is the perfect way to give to yourself, to take one hour a week (as a minimum), and take care of YOU! Feel free to read about my Radical Self-Care experience.
#36 Nurturing… Are you seeing a pattern yet? Rebalance, de-stress, self-care, NURTURE. It is not selfish to take care of yourself, and yoga is such a nurturing source. A gentle practice can really soothe the soul.
#37 Letting go (The Edge). Our bodies hold everything we ever experience, until we are willing to let them go. This process of release doesn’t have to happen through yoga- it can happen through counselling, talking, journalling, massage, martial arts, etc. However yoga is an excellent tool to help support the body on all levels: mentally, emotionally, energetically and physically. If you are holding old trauma, a life time of stress, or even just surface tension from daily life or activities, yoga can help you let it all go. It can also help us let go of expectations of others and ourselves, which helps bring clarity and peace of mind as well.
#38 Finding peace. If at some point in your life, you finally realize Peace comes from within, then you are truly blessed. Yoga offers us a gift of stillness, and often when the body stills the mind becomes over active. Over time, and with patience, we study the mind, and notice how our thoughts effect our body. Eventually we get glimpses of both inner and outer stillness, occurring simultaneously, and BOOM we have found peace. Once you get that experience, it can be life altering. I find in my personal practice, peacefulness comes instantly now; and the peacefulness has grown beyond my yoga mat into my daily living. I don’t feel peaceful everyday, and am far from enlightened, but yoga has definitely given me the gift of peace.
#39 Offer peace to others. That’s right, once you find yours it helps you deal with others in your life. You may not give them their experience of inner peace, but when in conflict you may be able to resolve issues from a peaceful place instead of through old patterns like yelling, withdrawing or creating other drama. You offer them peace.
#40 Opens intuition. What is intuition? I think of it as an inner knowing, or feeling, without a logical explanation. I think of it as listening to our body, or on a deeper level our energy, to receive wisdom we may otherwise ignore or not be in tune to. Yoga connects us to our bodies, and our bodies have a lot to teach us once we learn to listen to them. Are you interested in tuning into your own intuition? Start doing yoga on a regular basis!
#41 Encourages compassion for self and others. There are a lot of different styles of yoga out there these days, and not all of them encourage compassion for self. If you are pushing beyond your limits, having negative self-talk in a class, or comparing yourself to others, well that’s not compassionate. If you have never done yoga before, you may want to start with a gentle class, and if you can’t find a gentle class then at least be gentle with yourself. Have patience where you are, with what you have, and know that it will get easier over time. Yoga can be such a wonderful healing tool to overcome negative feelings, and to make peace with yourself. On a deeper level, as you gain compassion for yourself, that compassion grows towards others. We start to realize that we are all a lot more alike, then we are different. We all suffer; yoga can help ease our suffering.
#42 Helps us discover our passion/purpose/path. At least it sure helped me become clear at a very young age what I wanted, and how I would get it. I found my yoga practice to be inspiring, grounding, and powerful. I would receive very clear visions of my path (and have succeeded at all of them- even as they changed and continue to change), with a clear mind and energized body it was easy to strive ahead with purpose.
(Not sure about your passion/purpose/path anymore? Check out my workshops! They are designed to get back in touch with your true self.)
#43 Connects us to the Divine within us. Whether or not you believe in God (yoga is not religious after all), I believe we all have a divine source within us, and we all possess it, and we can all connect to it. It is the one thing that is the same in all beings, and when you connect with it the illusion of separation dissolves. When we connect to this source, all the other things listed above fall into place (peace, compassion, intuition, purpose, etc).
#44 Gives us true power (helps us let go of the need to control). True power is not about controlling our lives; it is about being true to ourselves, and letting go of the need for a perfect outcome. You have a vision, a purpose, but you trust the path- you don’t always control the path.
#45 Helps us dissolve Maya (the veils of illusion). I touched on this in #43… although illusion can come in many forms. Some people may refer to this life being like a dream, not real. I don’t take it that far- I believe this life is very real. The illusions I believe we have created are the ones as a human society (anything that creates the illusion of separation: cultures, races, religions, education, money, classes/status, etc). There is so much upheaval in the world right now, so much war and hatred based on this false illusion that we are separate, different, that one is right and the other is wrong. War is real, suffering is real, the basis it’s all built on- that’s the illusion. Those are the lies (in my humble opinion). Yoga can change your brain chemistry (feelings), the way you see the world, and they way you think. Question everything.
#46 Teaches us to listen to our bodies. I touched on this one too in #40. Our bodies hold deep, innate wisdom. Yoga helps us discover it’s messages.
#47 Helps heal/integrate all layers of the human experience (mental/emotional/physical/energetic). I had been doing yoga for 7 years before I went to Ottawa to become a certified yoga instructor. I was unaware of the layers I had shed over those years, and came to the training ready to face an edge I was unaware I was on. As human beings we are bombarded with stimuli every day of our lives. These things effect us, change us, and influence us and we don’t even know it! Yoga became a process of deep healing for me. Many years of built up emotion hit me like a tidal wave during sivasana unexpectedly. I cried for 3 days, and had no control over what was “leaving”… it was just time for it to move on out of my body. My teachers explained it like: Your body is a full container that needs to be emptied, and you will refill it with new/clean substance. If you are looking for a healing journey, yoga could be an excellent tool for you to explore with the support of an understanding teacher.
#48 Tunes us into the energies around us. After that experience of “letting go” of my lifetime of unexpressed emotions, I became very sensitive to my own energy and the energy of others. During yoga I could feel how postures and meditations were effecting me – draining me or refilling me. I learned quickly after that, my path as a teacher was to offer gentle/meditative yoga to people. To help others tune into their energy levels, and to learn to “refill” and find inner peace. More so, as I have been able to tune into other’s energy I can offer classes that support my students needs. If you are interested in exploring the energetic bodies, yoga is a great way to get started.
#49 Awakens creative potential. Believe it or not, through stretching and breathing, you can awaken your creative potential. Yoga gets our energy moving. Perhaps you find words of poetry suddenly floating through your mind while in sivasana, or an image of luscious landscape you want to paint while in a spinal twist, or a vision of a business plan, or piece of music to create, or craft or whatever! Yoga sometimes brings spontaneous vision, combined with an upsurge of energy and inspiration that motivates to get it done. If you are a creative person stuck in a rut- try a yoga class.
#50 Prepares us for Enlightenment. Yoga philosophy is often over-looked in our western society, and experience of yoga. However, it is believed, that yoga as a physical practice began as a series of stretches designed to help monks sit longer in meditation. What is the purpose of meditation? To attain Enlightenment. What is Enlightenment? My personal definition is to live in a state of liberation, free from illusions of the mind and body. To be at peace within oneself.