How Yoga Therapy Can Change Your Life
According to the most popular definition of yoga, extracted from Patanjali’s yoga sutras, yoga is “inhibition of the modifications of the mind.” In fact, this is the purpose of yoga, which practitioners achieve after years of dedication.
But for beginners, Patanjali’s interpretation of yoga may be too “metaphysical.” Have you tried to come up with your own definition of yoga, based on your personal experience? If you ever practiced yoga for at least a month, you realized that it’s more than a system of physical stretches. It’s an overall method for the body, mind, and spirit. It has changed many people’s lives, so it’s no wonder why researchers call it yoga therapy and include it in many of their studies. One particular study showed that the benefits of yoga are undeniable on both physical and mental levels. This practice has the potential to improve one’s quality of life.
Personal experience proves what research says
If you start going through comments on YouTube, Reddit, and Instagram, you’ll often see this claim: “yoga changed my life!” It’s not an exaggeration. As soon as they start practicing on a regular basis, people start experiencing the many health benefits of yoga.
Let’s go through a few of those personal experiences, so we’ll see what yoga really means in the lives of people.
1. Yoga makes you understand: you’re enough
One Reddit user was ecstatic after the very first attempt to practice yoga. “This stuff is life-changing, absolutely loved it!” – they said in the thread that they started. Then this user asked a question: “I am very inflexible, almost like a plank of wood, does your flexibility improve as you keep doing yoga?”
This is a crucial question for each beginner. When we see those beautiful yogis making incredible shapes with their bodies all over our Instagram feed, we become discouraged. “I could never bend like that” – is the first thought that comes to mind. We become so overwhelmed that we’d rather not try. Yoga teaches humility. It teaches you to accept yourself for who you are and make an effort towards improvement, but without getting attached to the results. If you regularly practice and pay attention to cues of alignment in yoga class, you’ll become stronger and more flexible. That’s a valuable life lesson: if you make the effort, you’ll inevitably achieve results.
2. Yoga improves your mood
I don’t want to be so bold to say that yoga can help people overcome depression. Those who are going through depression don’t need a statement like that. However, many practitioners find yoga helpful during their treatment. Here’s what one Reddit user said: “Given I am currently going through a pretty nasty depressive episode, it made me feel really tuned in to my emotions and feelings.” This thread is wonderful since other users share how the practice helped them overcome anxiety, perfectionism, and even depression.
There’s a perfectly good explanation behind these experiences. It’s not a placebo effect. It’s the ability of yoga to make you feel present in the current moment. You realize that you’re not your past and future. You are here and now. As you delve deeper into the practice, you stop being attached to your thoughts and feelings. You catch that deep, valuable thing inside you as a human being, and you connect with your center. That’s the healing power of yoga.
3. Yoga can even change your face
The so-called “face yoga” is dubbed as superficial. “Real” practitioners say it has nothing to do with yoga. However, it’s also a practice that has changed people’s lives. A Reddit thread, named “How face yoga has changed my life,” shares the personal experience that a practitioner had.
You’ll notice that these exercises aren’t just for toning the face. They also involve proper breathing, which is the real game-changer. Hey, you have nothing to lose. If you train your jawline every night before going to sleep, it’s possible to tone it.
4. Yoga makes you stronger
This is an aspect that guys are particularly interested in. Throughout its history, yoga was developed as a practice mainly for men. As it evolved throughout the centuries, more women started practicing it. If you scroll down your Instagram feed, you might get the impression that it’s a feminine practice, since it looks so graceful and it’s mostly practiced by women nowadays. When men get into it, however, they realize that yoga involves more strength than they ever imagined.
There’s an interesting Reddit thread around that topic. The practitioner says: “I couldn’t be happier and it also appears to be increasing my core strength.” Another user-contributed with their own experience, saying he’s always stretched after lifting weights, but never understood how much they could improve their mobility until they got serious with the yoga practice. Many yoga postures require strength in your legs, arms, and mostly your core. With a steady and progressive practice, you’ll develop both the strength and flexibility to achieve and maintain those postures for several breaths.
This effect isn’t limited to the body, though. One of the most important benefits of yoga is that all physical effects extend to your mental and emotional wellbeing. You become more resilient to stress, and you start working harder in anything else you do.
5. Yoga makes you a better person
The effects of yoga go deeper as you progress beyond the physical practice. When practitioners start learning about the philosophy behind the method, they start understanding the real importance of yoga. A software engineer shared an interesting experience on Quora. Increased physical body awareness was one of the first visible effects they experienced. They took this awareness deeper, starting to analyze each action they undertook. They started eating and communicating with greater awareness. They became more relaxed. Most of all, this person learned how to be a more compassionate individual.
How will yoga change your life?
No one can answer that question for you. Yoga is such a personal practice that everyone experiences it differently. As you get committed to it, you’ll start shedding your own layers. You’ll be getting deeper into your thoughts, emotions, and physical body by the day. Some effects will be instant. You’ll feel like you’re more relaxed and hyped after your very first class. But for the real effects, you’ll have to make a commitment. This is a life-time practice that requires some effort but gives a lot in return.
If you went through this article, you’re interested and you’re ready to make the commitment. Start practicing yoga on a regular basis! Roll out your mat each morning and you’ll be grateful that you gave yourself the opportunity to grow.
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