The physical benefits of yoga, which include greater strength, flexibility, balance, and developing a slimmer, more toned physique, are well known. However, did you know that the benefits of yoga practice extend beyond the realm of the physical and into the psychological, emotional, and spiritual? In fact, many people who start practicing yoga for the physical benefits end up sticking with their practice reasons other than better flexibility or a slimmer waist. Here are some of the most powerful non-physical benefits of yoga:
1) Yoga improves mental wellness.
Yoga has been proven to help reduce anxiety, depression, and improve your mental state overall. Yoga provides these benefits in a few ways. Practicing yoga requires intense concentration on the breath and body, which means that during yoga, unhealthy thought patterns are stopped or redirected. As a result, thoughts and worries are relieved and soothed.
Furthermore, yoga postures and breathing release tension from the body, and a relaxed body makes a relaxed mind possible.
Yoga also helps your mental state by regulating your ‘stress response system,’ or how you respond mentally and physically to stressful situations. Yoga lowers your blood pressure, heart rate, and improves respiration, all of which are affected when the body is under stress.
So if you always feel stressed and tense, with the help of yoga, you can definitely work through and lessen those unhealthy feelings.
2) Yoga improves memory and concentration.
If you find yourself remembering things better and focusing more powerfully after starting a yoga practice, that’s because yoga can improve both memory and concentration. Yoga improves concentration through the yogic practice of Dharana, which is the practice of focusing the mind on one point, and Drishti, which is keeping your gaze fixated on one point. The practices of Dharana and Drishti work to remove external distractions so you’re better able to recollect things and concentrate.
3) Yoga teaches us to be patient.
We live in a world of instant-gratification, where if things don’t happen quickly or immediately we get frustrated and discouraged. Yoga teaches us that everything is constantly changing. We may have been able to touch or toes last week, but today it feels impossible. We may experience amazing changes in our body over a short period of time, only to feel like we’re progressing at a slow rate again. In yoga and life, things rarely happen quickly. More often than not, we have to be patient. Yoga teaches us that nothing is static, and that there’s no point in getting frustrated or aggravated because over time, things always change.
4) Yoga teaches you to challenge yourself and face your fears.
We will never improve ourselves if we do the same thing day after day, afraid of making a change or trying something new. It is so easy to avoid learning new things based on self-imposed limits or the fear of failing. Yoga teaches us to try something different, challenge our bodies and minds, and step outside of our comfort zones. Attempting a new, challenging pose, whether it’s an arm balance, an inversion, or a back-bend, allows us to discover that we are not as vulnerable or fragile as we thought we were. Best-case scenario: we can do the posture, worst case: we can’t (yet). Oh well, that’s why yoga is called a ‘practice.’ By being brave enough to try new postures in a yoga class, we meet our fears head-on, and prepare ourselves to accept challenges that may arise in our day-to-day lives.
Original article is here