The most well known part of the yoga practise in the western world is that of asana, the practise of performing physical postures. It is through these movements that we heal, strengthen and calm the physical body to a point where it no longer troubles us with ailments and pains in the way that we often identify with our bodies. This allows us to inhabit our bodies with grace and comfort, whilst helping to quiet and focus the mind too.
Physical benefits of practising yoga include:
improved lung capacity and breath awareness
improved cardiovascular health and fitness, including lowering of blood pressure.
relief for other physical ailments and conditions, such as asthma, arthritis and back pain.
Our mental state is just as profoundly effected when we practise asana, we learn a calm determination; the more we push our perceived limitations in our practise, the more we learn equanimity in the face of challenge, something that we take out into the world when we leave our class.
Mental and emotional benefits of practising yoga:
- lower stress levels
- improved levels of concentration
- improved mood and outlook
- relief for insomnia
More than anything else, practising the movements of asana allows us to enjoy stillness in both mind and body when we have finished, and as we progress to keep that state of mind during our practise, and in our day to day lives.
Asana is only one tool available to us in pursuing a better quality of mind and life; I also study and teach how to work with the breath (pranayama), cleansing practises (kriya) and meditation, along with Yoga Nidra, another form of guided meditation and deep relaxation.