Nowadays Yoga is famous all over the world and it's taught and interpreted in different kinds of ways. But what is all the fuss about and why should you practise at all?
Here's a list of things that have changed my life in a very positive way as soon as I started to practise yoga regulary and before I even knew what yoga really is about. Maybe the one or the other fact will inspire you to set foot on the mat.
Promoting flexibility (for body and mind):
After 10 years in an office job I felt stiff and old as flexibilty was something I knew from my childhood and teenage years only. But after I started my practise I could instantly feel a change and it's still improving.
Why is this so? Yoga on the mat includes warm-up exercises for the whole body as well as patient stretching of specific regions afterwards, with which, for example, shortened tendons and fasciae can be gently lengthened again after suffering from sitting for long periods. ATTENTION: Ambition is the biggest injury factor here.
Strengthening and stretching of muscles and connective tissue:
My entire body posture has changed, so that long-term back problems (in the form of tensions) are being alleviated more and more. In addition there are optical changes of my figure up to (girls watch out!) reduction of cellulite by tightening the connective tissue.
The keyword fasciae has been on everyone's lips for a few years now and rightly so. This is the tissue that surrounds our muscles and that changes with them. Regular (not excessive!) drinking of water or unsweetened herbal tea before and after the yoga course can intensify this effect.
Detoxification/cleansing on a physical and mental level:
An example that is very close to my heart: After many, many years, I have finally stopped smoking permanently by myself. Without treatment, without therapy, without chewing gum or e-cigarettes. Only with my strengthened will to deal well with myself. Some time later I liked to eat less meat (meanwhile I live strictly vegetarian), because I felt it's no good for my health and even weakens me.
Conscious handling of our body inevitably leads to improved perception of what is healthy for us and what is less. Who listens carefully to oneself has it easier to renounce habits of which usually only others say it is not the right thing for us. Important here is to NOT substitute the unliked habit, as for example to replace smoking with excessive eating, but not exercising more than before.
Improvement of the immune system function trough stimulating the glandular system:
Before my regular yoga practice I was in bed with the flu 2-3 times a year for at least a whole week. These times are history, as well as many other aches and pains.
The reason: Yoga practice on the mat brings us in motion. Even more than cardio training or weight lifting. Because the sequence of movements and postures is based on thousands of years of experience from India and achieves, so to speak, a full body massage up to the organs in each individual yoga class. This helps to stimulate glandular activity and fluid circulation and thus supports our immune system. It is especially important to lie quietly in the final relaxation so that the body can relax and regenerate in these few minutes.
Serenity and increased ability to focus:
I still use notes like shopping lists and to-do lists, but oftentimes I am happy about not needing them anymore. Also I used to have some issues with anger and stress. They're gone now after a few years. I simply feel focued on what is important to me.
Yoga not only relaxes the mind, it also challenges it. But differently than in our western everyday life. Silent meditation in a seated position is the actual goal of the traditional yoga practice and whoever tries to observe only their own breath for a few minutes understands what I mean. I know it sounds like a very long and hard way, but don't despair. On the way there simpler concentration exercises are also integrated, which help us in our daily lives. And when you're ready you can even observe your own mind in many different ways. Doesn't that sound worth striving for?
Reduction of stress and slowdown of thoughts through conscious perception:
In fact, after a short time I was able to integrate some yogic approaches, such as meditation techniques, into my everyday life and thus cope with extreme stress situations much more safely and calmly.
The principle is very simple: If you are relaxed and satisfied, nothing will upset you. It can be a long way to get there, because it is not always clear to us that the core of stress is anchored in us, not in our environment. Sounds utopian in our society? Get involved, try yourself and speak to your yoga teacher (me) in case of difficulties.
The joy of individual exercise:
Sport was kind of my enemy before I discovered yoga for myself. I immediately enjoyed these elegant, coordinated movements without straining my body. Over the years this has led to a regular, healthy urge to move.
Our body has its own memory. That's why we carry out some movements unconsciously and have to show some of them when asked, because only verbally we can hardly remember. This makes the regularity of the yoga practice all the more important and one will soon notice that the body wants this all by itself, because it has noticed how well it feels with it.
One more great advantage of practicing Yoga is patience. None of this happens in one day, some things take years to progress. What helps to stay motivated is documentation, that can be a short voice message, a photo or the good old handwritten diary.
Individually coordinated, targeted yoga practice always leads one step further to the self and thus to physical and mental health.