And here come the additional 4 Transformational Benefits of Yoga. Yay!
While practicing yoga we link movement to our breath. I like to think of the breath and asanas as a dance; with the breath leading and the asana following along. We link our asanas to our breath and flow in and out of poses to the rhythm of our breath.
As we practice, the breath remains, the asanas change. When we practice more vigorous or challenging asanas we feel the quality of our breath changing. By being mindful we can choose to come into a modification of the pose, slow down or rest in Childspose for a moment. As we stay with our breath and each asana, relax into each pose and enjoy every second of our yoga practice, we cultivate mindfulness and inner peace.
By practicing mindfulness, we become the witness of our own practice, thoughts, emotions, needs and physical sensations. Now, as we notice thoughts or emotions arising, we can choose to acknowledge them and let them go. Yoga is a powerful mindfulness practice inviting us with every breath and every movement to be in the present moment, to enjoy being in the now. By being fully alive in the present moment, we don’t think or worry about the past or future. We let go of worries and stress by bringing awareness to thoughts arising, notice them, and then consciously let them go. Now you can return to your breath, your yoga pose, the present moment. When staying aware and present in your practice, you will feel peaceful, balanced, calm yet energized, and maybe even radiant and blissful.
As we cultivate mindfulness and practice awareness, we can’t help but feel grateful. What an amazing way to start your yoga practice by sitting in Sukhasana (Easy Pose) on your mat, closing your eyes and connecting to your breath. After taking a few rounds of deep, slow and smooth in- and exhales, bring your attention to your heart center and ponder upon the question “What have I been given today?” or “What am I grateful for in this moment?” Both questions will count your blessings and appreciate the abundance in your life. As you accept where you are, and appreciate all the gifts in your life (e.g. waking up healthy, a beautiful sunrise, warm bed & house, husband/wife, dog, cat, child(ren), parents, friends, birds tweeting, a functioning car, clean air, food, water, morning tea or coffee, yoga practice, etc.) you are creating more abundance and blessings in your life. Being grateful and realizing what you have been given (e.g. in just one morning) will make you feel content and fill your heart with gratitude, compassion, and appreciation.
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough”
~ Oprah Winfrey
Patañjali’s yoga sutras, verse II-46 “Sthira Sukham Asanam” can be translated as “Your pose should be steady, comfortable and enjoyable.”
By applying awareness and mindfulness to every pose, we can experience joy and delight in every moment. We are fully alive, and even when our asanas may be challenging, we can come back to the breath, observe ourselves, listen within, soften, and return to the joy practicing. Yoga teaches us to be ourselves, knowing that we are accepted for who we are. We are safe to go deep, and release old stored stressful emotions that may rise to the surface. We let go of what no longer serves us and make space for new and wonderful experiences. By balancing and strengthening body, mind, and spirit, we experience harmony, and happiness.
Please let me know what transformational benefits you have been receiving from you yoga practice and add on to my list! I look forward to hearing from you!
~ Tanja Alexandra Kern