When most people think yoga, they think stretching out tight muscles, maybe a bit of lying down, a bit of lycra… the fact is, there’s a lot more to it.
Yoga is a multifaceted practice of movement, stillness, intentional focus, breathing and philosophies. In the West, the focus tends to be on the movement part, and yoga is often regarded as a decent form of exercise but not much more. But a look at the different elements of yoga can show us there are many ways in which it can truly improve our lives and up our game incrementally in a load of different areas…
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Movement is good for us, we’ve been told that. Why? Burns calories? Sure, but we left that motivator in the 90s. Releases those feel-good endorphins? Yes, always great. But what else? These days its all about mindful movement, and yoga is the ultimate.
Why is it good? Well, when we move with focused intention, not only are we more likely to move in a way that is safe for our bodies anatomically, but we also get a chance to tune in to what really makes us feel good. Often, we just go through the motions of our exercise regimes without really noticing how our bodies our reacting. Yoga teaches us to listen to our bodies and respond appropriately to signals we get back - from obvious feelings of pain, to subtle vibrations and energy shifts. The more we can listen to our bodies in this way, the more we can give ourselves what we need to feel fantastic. When we feel fantastic, we can go about creating the life we want to live with a lot more ease!
Focus On Stillness
To listen to the body and move mindfully (and therefore, end up feeling fantastic and being a better human being etc. etc.) we need focus. But it’s something our busy minds can find really, really hard. We live in a world that constantly steals our attention - message notifications, traffic, advertising and so on - so it’s no wonder our minds are constantly racing with thought.
Starting our day with a moment of stillness - in meditation or simply in quiet personal reflection - offers a chance to ground our energy, sift through our thoughts, and have a word with ourselves before the voices of the many come in. Allowing thoughts to filter, we become aware of our own mental habits and get a chance to decide where we really want to focus our attention for the day, that month, this life…
At OHMME HQ we often take 10-15 minute breaks as a team to sit in meditation. Having someone in it with you holds you accountable and keeps you focused, and the energy shift afterwards is even more noticeable. Idea of meditation freaking you out? My flatmate simply sits on the balcony every morning with his coffee. No one enters that space. It’s his moment of still contemplation on the moment, the day ahead and on life in general and, best of all, he’s consistent with it. It serves him and that’s all that matters.
Deep, Intentional Breath
Breath = oxygen in = more energy. It’s that simple. A fundamental part of yoga practice is breathing with each movement. The inhalations and exhalations guide us into each pose and help us maintain focus within the pose.
Just a few minutes of deep breaths every day can reduce anxiety, increase clarity and focus, elevate the mood (instantly, yep, and, with practice, consistently and incrementally), promote good digestion, feed the needs of growing healthy cells and eliminate oxidative stress in our tissues (i.e. sends more oxygen to our cells which helps them regenerate and perform their functions more effectively), lower blood pressure and improve sleep.
If you’re not convinced, look up Tony Robbins and Wim Hoff, do as they do then come and tell me it didn’t help.