Signs Your Yoga Practice is Working
What happens when we start a regular yoga practice? I’m talking about an intentional and consistent holistic yoga practice that is aligned to our unique needs, lifestyle, and constitution. I truly believe that if we practice this way, we embark on a journey of real healing and transformation and the quality of our lives improves. After all, we don’t practice yoga to be good at yoga—we practice yoga to be good at life.
Here are seven gifts you can expect from your yoga practice:
1. You stay calm in situations that previously caused you stress.
Everyday life brings us potentially stressful situations. It is our choice how we react—we can respond with stress, anger, or fear; or we can take a moment to pause, ground ourselves, and react to a situation from a place of calmness, clarity, and mental stability. Yoga teaches us how to access that place. By practicing calmness and stability every day on the yoga mat, we become more emotionally stable and resilient to stressful situations.
2. You are more patient on your mat and meditation cushion, and this patience shows up in your life.
Mental calmness and stability practiced on the yoga mat help us become more patient. In our fast-paced world that is constantly changing, we generally expect things to be done our way and when we want them. But things often do not go the way we expected—we have to wait, or someone annoys us—bringing up an uncomfortable, yet familiar, feeling that is difficult to control: impatience.
Yoga practice does not guarantee that we will never lose patience. However, it helps us to gradually become more stable and unattached to situations or people that would previously cause us to lose our center.
When we practice yoga, we learn how to stay in and accept the present moment. Whether it is holding yoga poses for longer than we think we can bear, or sitting in meditation with uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, we gradually learn to accept the moment as it is. This acceptance allows us to become more patient and understanding with life.
3. You experience more moments of spontaneous joy and happiness.
Do you know that spontaneous feeling when you drive through a beautiful landscape, walk with your dog, watch a sunset, or simply breathe fresh air? When you feel calmness, joy, and happiness from within?
According to the yoga tradition, the things we all look for in life—joy, happiness, love, and contentment—are already inside us. The outside world is a reflection of our inner state. We forget about those inherent qualities; they have been buried by false understanding and conditioning. As we practice yoga, we learn how to uncover and access those inherent qualities again. And that shows up not only in the way we feel inside, but also in the way in which we see and relate to the world.
As we become more mindful on the yoga mat and the meditation cushion, we learn to be in the present moment. Every moment holds the potential for us to feel the wonder of life and oneness with the world. Only in the present moment can we be truly happy. We start to see the gifts of life everywhere, in the simplest things.
4. You are more compassionate towards yourself and others, and it is easier to forgive.
Something magical happens when we learn to connect body, mind, and spirit in our yoga practice. We learn that our mind is not the only way of understanding. When we hold yoga poses longer while focusing on the breath, many conscious and unconscious thoughts come to the surface. We learn to observe them, without attaching to them. This awareness and acceptance is the beginning of change, and it becomes easier to let go of negative thoughts and emotions. This letting go opens the door to compassion and forgiveness, towards ourselves and others.
We feel more connected to people around us and see their behavior, reactions, and problems with more compassion and understanding. We see that they, too, simply struggle on their path. Eventually we have glimpses of feeling at one with the whole universe.
Forgiveness does not happen as a result of reasoning; it happens on an energetic level. Holistic yoga practice integrates our physical, mental, emotional, and energetic levels—our body, mind, and spirit. This allows for profound change.
5. You notice spontaneous moments of insight and you allow yourself to be guided by your intuition.
Yoga tradition says that everything we need to know, all wisdom, is already within us. There is an “inner teacher” that guides us and teaches us—if we are ready and open to receive that knowledge. A good teacher can help us to establish this connection with the inner knowing.
The mystical third eye, or our sixth chakra, is the energetic center in our body that connects us to that inner teacher—our inner wisdom, our vision. Gradually, with practice, this connection becomes stronger, and the third eye becomes easier to access. As a result, we begin to have more spontaneous moments of insight. We know more intuitively which decision to make or direction to take.
6. You discover new passions and gain more courage to follow your dreams.
As previously mentioned, yoga practice helps us clear our minds and let go of negative thoughts and emotions. When we do, we literally gain more space in our mind for new inspirations, ideas, and projects to come our way.
Skillful yoga practice empowers us, giving us courage to follow our dreams. We may discover new passions, or rediscover hobbies that were previously pushed aside. We have more appetite for life. Something we never thought we would dare do—like trading a safe job to pursue our true vocation—suddenly becomes something we consider!
A skillful yoga practice connects us to our authentic self, through a gradual process of letting go of false identity and learning to see things clearly. It takes time to find and establish that connection. But even partway through the process, we begin to crave big changes in life, because we notice that our old ways of being and doing aren’t working anymore. We start to see more clearly what our purpose in life is, and how to pursue that call from the heart.
7. You sense bullsh*t.
When we are in tune with our intuition and inner guide, and when our mind is clear and calm, we also start to see other people with more clarity and understanding. We can better sense their intentions. This knowledge allows us to choose which people, situations, and relationships are good for us and which are not. We can then make better decisions.
Which of these gifts would make the most difference in your life?