5 Reasons to Practice Yoga Everyday
Some of us go to yoga classes to become more flexible and strong, improve our posture and have a healthier back. Some people desire to manage their stress levels better, relax and quiet their minds. Some of us want to become great yogis by mastering the body through challenging yoga postures or mastering the mind through meditation. There are many reasons why people practice yoga, and all the reasons are great.
But ultimately, it is not about becoming more flexible and strong, not even about becoming a better meditator. It is about improving the quality of our life so that we can live with more joy, ease, courage, and freedom.
“We don’t do yoga to be good at yoga. We do yoga to be good at life” – I heard this quote first time when I was working in Cambodia at Hariharalaya Retreat Center. This has become my main objective for my own practice and teachings. I do yoga to be good at life and encourage my students to do the same.
Yoga is a practice that allows us to live in a world that is constantly changing with more faith and courage. It gives us tools to manage everyday challenges: stress, uncertainty, unbalanced lifestyle, overwhelm, and sadness. It helps us to develop our unique potential, fulfill our purpose and serve others. It connects us to our true selves.
My everyday practice is mostly very simple. Simplicity helps me to stay on my track with more consistency. I start with a short warm-up, followed by simple asana practice that includes longer holds. I finish my practice with seated pranayama (breath work exercises) and meditation. Why do I choose to get up every day, roll out my mat and do this work?
One of the first noticeable benefits of a skillful yoga practice is that we start seeing things with more clarity – things as they are, not as we are. How is that possible?
Asana helps us develop witness consciousness and stay in the experience regardless of thoughts and sensations passing. Pranayama acts as a bridge between body and mind. It helps us further cultivate this witness consciousness during meditation. We learn to see things from a higher perspective, which allows for a clearer picture. We learn to discern what is truly relevant to us and what is not. We begin to listen to our inner wisdom.
These days many people associate yoga with strong physical exercises, a form of fitness. This is actually not at all the original intention of yoga! While asana (posture) is an important part of hatha yoga practice, it is still just a small part of the full scope of yogic practices. Skillful asana practice will indeed strengthen your body. It is a great way to improve your posture and strengthen your back. Asana will also make your body more flexible so that you can sit longer with more effortlessness (in meditation or focused at work). However, there is a great benefit that is often overseen. Practicing yoga brings us mental strength. Whether we move the body on the yoga mat or sit for longer on the meditation cushion, we train ourselves to endure unpleasant sensations and stay with the stream of
thoughts passing through. This teaches us to be more patient, mentally stable and focused.
Many people attend yoga classes because of the desire to resolve inner conflicts and find inner peace. The pace of modern lifestyle often causes stress and inner turmoil. As a result, we feel overwhelmed by life, the never-ending list of tasks and things to accomplish. And together with that, life happens with its ups and downs. Yoga teaches us that peace and stillness are always available if we stay present and learn how to connect inwards. There is an unchangeable, unlimited source of peace and calmness inside us. Many yoga postures and meditation techniques, like the moon-style yoga practice, help us access it.
FROM MIND TO HEART
Our mind is a brilliant tool that helps us through life, but ultimately, if we want to be happy and live in alignment with inner truth, we must learn how to follow our hearts. “If you could make the journey from your brain to your heart, you will find out who you are,” – says grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim. Finding out who we truly are is one of the main goals of yoga. The journey from mind to heart is very short. However, it is not an easy one. Yoga practice gives us the courage and strength to make that journey. When we start listening to and following the heart, our life changes! Are you curious to discover the steps that will lead you to following your heart? Download my free booklet here.
According to yoga tradition, there is a source of unlimited joy and contentment inside us. In fact, all the things we want in life and search for outside of us – love, acknowledgment, happiness, peace – are available from within, all the time. We learn how to access them through various yogic practices that guide us to the heart, the source of inner joy and contentment. The benefits of yoga usually develop gradually, with time and consistent practice. You may notice that your ability to feel joy is greater than before. You may find yourself more often in a state of profound gratitude and wonder. You feel connected to your heart. It is also because yoga teaches us to be present in the moment. Real joy and happiness are available to us in the here and now.