Every now and then we all need to be reminded of the reasons why we continue to make the time and space for yoga in our over scheduled, hectic lives. Luckily, with the increased research into the health benefits and therapeutic applications of yoga, the reasons to return to our mats have never been so widely reported by mainstream media and supported by the medical community.
Research into the science of yoga has shown that moving our bodies mindfully in and out of the physical postures we call asana, in synch with our breath, puts healthy stress on our joints warding off osteoperosis, improving flexibility and strengthening and toning the nervous system. We have also learned that yoga provides a pumping action of lymphatic fluid and blood throughout the entire body, improving detoxification and immune system functioning.
The practice of yoga has been demonstrated to help in the treating of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, migraine headaches, asthma, chronic back pain, arthritis, constipation, diabetes, menopause, multiple sclerosis, varicose veins, the management of chronic pain as a result of disease and injury, and the ease of menstruation and child birth. A recent study has even demonstrated that a regular yoga practice can help slow the deteoriation of telomeres, which are the end caps of our chromosones who’s slow deteoriation is associated with the aging process. So yes, there is now scientific proof that yoga helps us age more slowly! And if you want proof of that, take a look at this 3 minute video about a 96 year-old yoga teacher living in New York who is clearly defying the aging process!
But beyond the myriad of physical benefits that the practice of yoga has been shown to induce, we don’t often discuss why and how yoga helps us mentally and emotionally. In yogasana we learn to channel our breath and mind in a more conscious direction. We teach the mind to not waste energy on thoughts that don’t pertain to the present moment. We learn to breathe more consciously and move more consciously – not just on the mat but off the mat too. The training in focus helps us perform tasks with more clarity and purpose.
We learn to relax with increasing ease in both movement and stillness; which helps us tap into a sense of inner peace that exists within us all even during times of intense stress, conflict and tragedy. We become more connected to the wisdom of our emotions and felt sense, and learn to use this guidance system to connect more deeply with the hidden aspects of ourselves, with the people in our lives, and with the roles, responsibilities, and tasks we undertake.
We learn to pay attention to and accept our changing mental, emotional, physical and spiritual states and approach these elements of ourselves with increased curiosity, compassion and honesty. And finally we learn to tap into a deep well of love that connects us all and by staying tuned into this love, experience ways of interacting with the world with greater authenticity, empathy, trust and integrity. Looking forward to seeing you all at Shanti sometime soon.
Namaste, Sari LaBelle MA (HSI), CYT, nd