If you’ve been practicing yoga for a while, you’re probably reaping many yoga benefits, like the ability to twist your body into amazing pretzel-like shapes, stand on your hands in the middle of a room, or balance on one foot with the other wrapped behind your head.
What’s that, you say? You still can’t do those things?
Well, no matter how twisty and flexible you are (or aren’t), I assure you, you’ve made progress. Maybe that progress doesn’t look like you thought it would, but look more closely, because yoga has given you gifts you may not even recognize. I know it has done so for me.
Five yoga benefits I’m grateful for (even when I take them for granted).
- I’ve learned to use my breath as an amazing tool. This morning, I was drying my hair—something I hate doing because it seems to take so long—and at first, I wanted to just rush through it so I could go get a cup of coffee. But then I decided to take a deep breath, and with awareness, be present in the moment. Then I took another breath. I began to focus on my breathing instead of the annoying hair dryer, and in ten minutes, my hair was dry. This type of mindfulness with breath as an anchor is something I learned to do in yoga class, and I can’t tell you how many times a day it saves me from letting little things in my life stress me out!
- My posture is better. I work at a computer, so it’s hard to not slouch. But thanks to mindfulness and core strength developed from years of yoga practice, I catch myself more often. I also find it much easier to sit up straight for long periods of time. This may seem like simple thing, but it’s actually a huge benefit. Slouching crushes internal organs, including the heart. When I sit tall with an open heart, I feel power and energy that really can’t be understated.
- I trust things will get done. I used to freak out a lot about deadlines, commitments, and other people’s expectations. Thanks to yoga, I don’t do this so much anymore. In a way that’s hard to describe, yoga has taught me to trust that the things that need to get done will get done and that I don’t have to meet everyone’s expectations all the time. I know that all I need is the intention to participate in the process of making things happen, and all will be well.
- I live in the moment and focus on the positive (most of the time). This can be tough, of course. Most of us spend more time worrying about the future or regretting the past than we need to, but yoga has taught me that I can choose to be in this moment, and I can choose to focus on whatever good is happening now. Learning to do this has made a world of difference, not only in how I feel, but in terms of the kinds of people I attract into my life.
- I’m stronger. I’m stronger physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. All of this strength comes from commitment to the holistic lifestyle practice that is yoga. Yoga benefits mind, body, and spirit. This is important because the three are so closely interconnected that if you neglect one, the others suffer as well.
I can look back ten or even thirty years and see how much my life has changed since I took my first yoga class. Life is better and easier now. And while I can’t prove that yoga has made the difference, I believe it has with all my (much more open) heart.