I, like most, saw the practice through a physical lens. I was so inspired by the changes in my strength, and flexibility that I got hooked and couldn’t wait to get back on the mat! But the more I practiced, the more I understood that there are so many facets to the practice and its ability to create space in our reactions, thoughts, and lives — and these are the real benefits that the practice has brought me.
If you are breathing, then you are alive. And if you are alive, your breath is always available for you to notice and anchor to. Breath awareness and the power of controlling your breath (known as pranayama in Yoga), has probably been the best gift that yoga has offered me. In times of stress, triggers, or emotions, being able to focus on my breath and take a few moments to let things settle has made a difference not only in how I feel, but also in how I react and the things I say to others, which often would be quite different if I didn’t take that second of space to reflect on what I’m about to say.
I find that my breath acts as a tool that can bridge my mind and my reactions, or the reactions in my body. When I’m being faced with unexpected or complicated situations, I feel my emotions getting triggered. And if I respond or act based on emotions, and do not take the time to analyze, I often regret the outcome that resulting from that emotional prompt.
However, with practice, I have become aware of my emotions as they are starting to shift, and now I can take a few seconds to deepen my breath.
Physiologically, when your heart rate goes up and your emotions get triggered, this incite a sympathetic nervous system action which is often referred to as a “fight or flight” response. By deepening your breath and shifting the focus, you incite a parasympathetic response, or a feeling of calm and control, which allows you a way to better manage your energy, emotions, and reactions.
By consciously deepening our breath, it provides us a point of focus to anchor to so we can become aware of our emotions and purposefully shift back into a calmer state. Although breath is unconscious and constant, practicing this purposeful breathing has the power to not only shift our emotions, but to also shift the perception of our situations. By creating space to question our responses we can see how our thoughts, patterns, and mind space are eliciting our emotional responses — giving us the chance to consciously not react.
Another benefit that Yoga has brought to my life is my ability to stay focused on the feelings and emotions that I desire to experience in life. The practice of Yoga rescued me from the madness of my everchanging thoughts, moods, and emotions, and showed me to not attach or become victim of my life’s conditions.
Yoga gave me an avenue for awareness, intention, and direction towards creating the life experience I wish to live.
The more I practiced coming back to my breath, the more I was able to manage my reactions and my ability to focus and re-focus my wondering thoughts. Focus is what has allowed me the ability to manifest a life of purpose and a life that I choose to live.
As you practice being in the moment and not reliving your past, predicting the future, or being controlled by your thought patterns and emotions, you gain the ability to maintain focus on what you desire out of life. Manifestation, which is your ability to bring your thoughts into reality, depends on your ability to keep your thoughts and intentions in what you desire instead of what you do not want to experience.
The more you can maintain your vision in focus, the greater your ability to manifest your desires, creating a state in which the opportunities you need begin to appear, so you can manifest your vision and help others manifest theirs along the way.
Improving Overall Health & Wellbeing
The more I continued to practice Yoga, the more intentional I became with my thoughts and action, and the more I was able to create health in my body, mind, and soul. There was the obvious physical benefit that yoga poses had, but understanding the practice at a deeper level, helped me realize that choosing to play with the edges of my body built strength and flexibility not just to my body, but also my mind.
The deeper we go into the physical practice of yoga, the more we start to understand that there are other aspects we must explore deeply as well. The philosophy of Yoga is a 5000-year-old subtle science that begins by asking us to know and transcend ourselves – it begins with understanding who you are and what you desire to experience in this beautiful opportunity of life.