Balance, relaxation, and discipline
Practicing yoga brings balance into our lives. This sense of balance is brought about through balancing postures, pranayama or breathing techniques (specifically a technique called anuloma viloma breathing, which encourages an equal balance between energy channels on the left and right side of the body) and meditation. Balancing postures such as garudasana or bakasana help you focus on ajna chakra (a point of energy according to ancient texts, which is located at the forehead, and is specific to balance between our left and right sides) and hence bring balance into your day to day life.
Yoga can teach you relaxation techniques
Yoga also brings relaxation into our lives. Yoga helps us work a part of our nervous system which slows down your heart rate, reduces the force with which your heart beats at and reduces the force of contraction of your heart. All of this helps to relax you. Yoga also helps by relaxing muscles especially is asana (physical) practice. When we are tense in our minds then we also tense muscles in our bodies. However, in yoga, we stretch muscles and hence relax them. This sends a signal to the brain that the muscles are being relaxed, causing the mind to relax. Yoga helps as well through silencing the mind in meditation and through slowing down the breath and heart rate through pranayama (breath control) techniques.
Regular yoga practice both requires and teaches discipline
Yoga gives you discipline as it requires you to practice it regularly. Meditation, the practice of breathing techniques, and physical practice should all be practiced regularly and with discipline. Through regular practice, the benefit is achieved and this encourages you to use discipline in other areas of your life. A special aspect of discipline in yoga is that the philosophy of yoga teaches one to regularly check the mind for ‘citta vriddhis’ or wasted thoughts, so that you regularly make sure your thoughts are positive and calm. This is the true practice of yoga and also the important discipline of being a yogi.
Health, happiness, and peace
Yoga helps you remain healthy. Yoga practice helps lower blood pressure, improves blood circulation, strengthens muscles and it helps with insomnia, particularly through relaxation. Learning yoga philosophy teaches you about good diet, especially in terms of what is known as the ‘sattvic’ diet in Sanskrit. You learn to eat food which is better for you when you practice yoga. For example, you naturally drift towards more organic, wholemeal, and less fatty foods as part of a healthier lifestyle. You also eat more fruit and vegetables, allowing more vitamins and minerals to enter into your body.
Yoga is also a form of physical exercise
Yoga helps you to feel happier. This is partly because yoga practice involves exercise. The practice of vinyasa (movement from one posture to another), like other forms of cardiovascular exercise, helps the body to release endorphins, which are chemicals that work to makes one happy. But it is not just the physical practice of yoga that helps you feel happy—the philosophy of yoga teaches one to control the mind so that thoughts are purer, more benevolent, more full of compassion towards yourself and towards others, ultimately bringing you to your natural state of bliss.
Yoga helps bring a sense of peace to your inner self. As a part of yoga, meditation brings you peace. The sense of balance you achieve from it then brings you peace. Focusing on the breath during physical asana practice brings clarity to the mind and hence brings you peace too. Contemplation on the philosophical ideal in yoga that your natural state is peace brings you closer to your true self.
Yoga and relationships
Yoga helps you in your relationships as well. Yoga teaches you to let go of your own individual ego, allowing you to connect better with others, to relate better to others, and to form a union with the world around you. The word yoga itself originally comes from the root ‘yuj’ in Sanskrit—which in fact means union.
A chakra is an energy point within the body in yoga. Working on the throat chakra (Vishuddhi Chakra in Sanskrit) with yoga postures related to this chakra, such as shoulder stand (sarvangasana), plough (halasana) or bridge pose (setu bandhasana), for example, allows you to communicate better with others and hence also helps you develop your relationships.
Opening up manipura chakra (an energy point located at your solar plexus) in postures such as the warrior pose (virabhadrasana) allows courage to develop. Meanwhile, inversions such as the downward dog (adho mukha svanasana) or headstand (sirsasana) help you to develop your seventh chakra (sahasrara), which is related to your higher self. This helps you develop peace within and hence live your life in a more peaceful way.
It can hence be seen that yoga helps in many areas in everyday life leading to more happiness, health, and inner peace.
How does your yoga practice affects your daily life?