Is Yoga a good practice for a happy and healthy life?
Let’s face it there are lots of aspects of life which have a huge impact on how healthy and happy we are.
One of these aspects is that we do not spend enough time on ourselves. Life can be stressful and super busy. There are always things to do, or people to take care of. It takes a lot of effort and (dare I say it), self-love to decide to put ourselves first.
Before yoga became a daily part of my life, I found it very difficult to put myself first. I thought that self-care was selfish. It always made me feel guilty – that I was wasting time. I now know differently and it has been yoga that has helped me to see the light.
The simple fact of the matter is that if we don’t look after ourselves properly, we cannot look after or perform well for others, so with that in mind, it is fundamental for our health and happiness.
Below are just 3 ways yoga can help us look after ourselves and in doing so enable us to find health and happiness in life.
Yoga Improves Functional Fitness (strength, mobility and flexibility)
Functional fitness means a body that can do all the things that we want it to do without hindrance or complaint. This includes a body that is strong, balanced, mobile and flexible. Just imagine not being able to enjoy your favourite pastime simply because your body has other ideas? To feel healthy and happy we must be able to do the things which bring us joy in life (in a body that enables us to do so).
One problem with our modern lifestyles is that we are all a lot more sedentary than ever before. Many of us are in jobs that involve sitting down for long periods of time. Instead of walking, we look to use our cars to save time.
This is making us less mobile, stiffer, unbalanced, and weak.
This is not just a mobility and strength issue. When our bodies are functionally fit they work better. All of our bodily systems (including breathing, circulatory, digestive and immunity) benefit. We often feel better too mentally and emotionally.
Yoga is perfect for supporting our mobility and strength (aka functional fitness) because the poses take us through a wide range of movements. On top of that, each pose will strengthen certain muscles and stretch others, helping us achieve a more balanced and aligned body. In addition, yoga is for everyone, so you can modify it to suit your fitness levels and unique goals.
Yoga helps us to rest
Where on earth did that unspoken rule come in where you are only living a worthwhile, successful and productive life if you are busy all the time? Why do many of us see rest as a guilty pleasure or a pastime only allowed when we are on holiday?
I was guilty of this for such a long time. In fact, when I first started to attend yoga classes I was one of those people who either skipped savasana (yoga relaxation at the end) or fidgeted all the way through it because I generally thought that I was wasting time lying on the floor doing ‘nothing.’
The truth is rest is vital for our health. We need to rest to avoid burnout. Living life burning the candle at both ends is driving our stress levels through the roof. Too much stress leads to inflammation in the body. Inflammation leads to ill-health.
Yoga trains us to learn how to rest and treat that time with the utmost respect. It is not easy especially if you are anything like I was. However, like a muscle, it is an area you can train and get better at. Today, I love my rest time.
The king of the resting poses is, of course, savasana (as discussed above) but we mustn’t forget the power of a slow simple vinyasa flow practice. Both give us time to take stock, to pause, to reflect and to rest.
If you want to take it a step further don’t forget the power of a yoga Nidra (yoga sleep).
Let this be the year you put rest into your schedule. It is not a waste of time; it is necessary for your health and wellbeing.
Yoga Helps you Look After Your Relationship With Your Mind
How our mind ‘ticks’ – that is – how we react to the permanent conversation in our heads, is influential on health and happiness.
Mind conversations produce thoughts. Thoughts trigger emotions. Excessive emotions can lead to ill health and unhappiness both physically and mentally. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) understands this particularly well. The chart below, for example, shows how various particular excessive emotions can influence the health of our organs.
Before you start to think that emotions are a bad thing let’s backtrack a bit. For starters, it is part of being human to experience emotions. The key to health and happiness is to not allow emotions to define us; to become part of who we are. Emotions are just there to be experienced, they are not part of who we are as a person.
Yoga helps us because it is a mind–body practise which aims to unify (or yoke) the two. When our bodies and minds are separate, this is when we experience unhappiness as we are allowing our minds to rule everything we do. Bringing the mind and body together stops the mind from being dominant in our life experiences
Yoga achieves this by using the breath as a way of connecting the two. Watching or observing the breath gives our minds something else to do (as opposed to thinking and feeling). It becomes stiller, more settled.
When the mind becomes still we can connect to our bodies and sense of self. This takes us out of the past or the future and brings us into the here and now; the present moment. We stop thinking and just become our bodies. This brings a sense of peace and calmness.
Yoga utilises the power of the breath in many ways. Our practise on the mat is one way. There is also breathing practice known as pranayama and meditation. Their goal is the same; to take the focus away from the ‘monkey chatter of the mind’ back to our bodies.
Why not give it a go now by clicking on the video below:
I did write a separate blog post about meditation here if you want to read up on it further.
Final Thoughts On Yoga for a Happy and Healthy Life
So there you go 3 ways yoga helps to bring us health and happiness. For me it is the ultimate mind and body MOT; the ultimate training buddy for life. When life’s obligations can drag us away from ourselves s both physically and mentally, it is important to have a way of reconnecting. Yoga enables this reconnection to occur and the best thing of all is anyone can reap the benefits.
Do you agree?
Let me know in the comments 🤗🙏