Whether you practice yoga in Houston, in another state, another country, in a studio, outside, or in the comfort of your home, the benefits that you receive from your practice go well beyond that which you feel while you’re on your mat.
On a Basic Level
If we look at yoga on a superficial level, we know that yoga can help us physically, through strength, flexibility, and balance. The more we practice the stronger we get, the more flexible we become and the less likely we are to topple over when we attempt a balancing pose, like Half Moon.
Mentally, yoga can help us become stronger, more capable to handle stress in our lives. It gives us mental discipline, as we are required to focus when we are practicing an asana, (particularly a difficult one) and it provides clarity to our way of thinking, we become more open-minded.
Emotionally, we learn to accept things as they are, including ourselves and our situations.
We become not only more mindful of others, but also of ourselves and how we see ourselves. We are emotionally more self-confident; our practice demonstrates to us that hard work and dedication pays off.
On a Deeper Level
Those who have continued a dedicated yoga practice in Houston know that their connection with yoga runs deep. That their regular practice allows for them to not only better-handle the day-to-day, but they will also tell you that it has saved their lives.
There are those who have suffered from a debilitating injury or illness where their pain has disappeared because of their faithful practice. They have reclaimed their sense of self once again thanks to the discipline and numerous physical benefits that yoga has provided them.
Benefits that include (but are certainly not limited to):
On A Spiritual LeveL
Even if you have never believed in a higher power, there is something to be said about the overwhelming spiritual feeling that can come from the peace you receive after completion of your practice on the mat.
Whether you take a few moments extra to breathe in Savasana, sit in stillness and focus on a mantra, or become more mindful in the day-to-day, you may find yourself viewing the world (and yourself) a little differently thanks to your practice.
Although there are a variety of ways that one can increase his or her self-care: running, weight-training, clean-eating, reading, learning something new, or simply taking more time for yourself, yoga is truly all about self-care.
Through this self-care, Yogis often find themselves more conscious of how they treat their bodies, through the food that they eat, the products that they put on their skin; they become kinder to themselves.
When we are kinder to ourselves, our bodies thrive, we become happier and more content with the path that we are on.
Mentally at Peace
The mental focus we gain is just the tip of the iceberg, from increased brain function to improved concentration, yoga is a master of helping us gain a better control over our mind. But what I love the most is the peace that can be felt after a finished practice on the mat.
Knowing in the back of your mind that there is a place you can go to when the world is just a little too much to handle is a blessing and a wonderful benefit that can be used whenever you feel overwhelmed.
This tool can be used in a long lineup, before a stressful meeting at work, after a difficult conversation with a friend or even a stranger, you can always turn to your inner being and remind yourself that inside there is a place where the chaos of the world simply does not exist.
Present in the Moment
Learning to live in the moment can be one of the hardest lessons to learn from yoga. But it is through our practice where we are required to be in the moment, lest we lose our concentration and fall out of our asana.
You simply cannot be thinking about what you want to make for dinner when you are trying to balance in Tree Pose. This is one of my favorite lessons to take use off of the mat, to remind myself to enjoy the time spent with my little ones, to put away the phone when talking with friends, to watch the sunset out of my back window.
To be in the moment is one of the greatest gifts one can learn, and it is a continued learning experience that yoga reminds me of every day.
The Proof is in Continued Practice
Never have I been more witness to these benefits than when I have experienced off-the-mat yoga benefits myself at different stages in my life. One particular occurrence was in a yoga studio in Houston, and a magical moment with a dedicated teacher who reminded me that we are all beginners at some point.
Yoga has helped me immensely through both of my pregnancies where my legs and hips ached at night so much so that I couldn’t sleep; bedtime yoga stretches were faithfully practiced and my savior during that tough time.
Then, when I had brought my two beautiful children into this world and I was facing the changes my body had gone through, finding it hard to accept the reality that my body would no longer be the way I once remembered it to be, yoga was there for me.
It helped me to love my body once again. To help me appreciate it for all that it has done for me, in a way that nothing else has.
When I find myself overwhelmed and stressed out about life or even short-tempered and picking fights with my family, yoga reminds me to remain calm, emotionally aware, and my relationships become the priority they deserve to be over the stressful moments that seem to take an undeserved priority in my life.
For all of those who practice yoga in Houston, or wherever you are, know that you are doing wonders for your mind, body, and soul and that these benefits extend well past the time you are spending on the mat. These benefits help shape us and help us to become better human beings.
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Urban Fit Yoga posts relevant, inspiring, and nourishing tools to support you along your healing journey. We believe that the benefits of yoga can extend far off your mat and we want to help!