Top 10 Yoga Benefits + One That We All Want

by Stephanie on July 15, 2014

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A strong and flexible body, glowing beautiful skin, peaceful mind, good health – whatever you may be looking for, yoga can help you achieve that. However, very often, yoga is only partially understood as being limited to asanas (yoga poses). As such, its benefits are only perceived to be at the body level and we fail to realize the immense benefits yoga offers in uniting the body, mind and breath. When you are in harmony, the journey through life is calmer, happier and more fulfilling.

“Asana is a limited definition of yoga. Yoga is about inquiry into the soul” ~ Saul David Raye

I was very lucky to take an all day workshop with Saul David Raye at Yoga Journal LIVE in San Diego last weekend. I was very impressed with his wisdom and capacity to offer so much in so little time.

I put together the following list for people who may not have practiced yoga before. That is my dharma. To teach, to inspire, to share and to love. I am grateful for the gift of being immersed in Bhakti Yoga yesterday and for the opportunity to learn from Saul David Raye.

The benefits of yoga are felt in a profound yet subtle manner. There are many more benefits, but here are a top 10 list of benefits of regular yoga practice:

1. All-round fitness. You are truly healthy when you are not just physically fit but also mentally and emotionally balanced. As Sri Sri Ravi Shankar puts it, “Health is not a mere absence of disease. It is a dynamic expression of life – in terms of how joyful, loving and enthusiastic you are.” This is where yoga helps: postures, pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation are a holistic fitness package.

2. Healthy Weight. What some people try yoga for now that it has become more mainstream is to lose weight, but I believe what we really want is to feel our best! Yoga benefits here too. Sure, you will loose weight if that is your goal, but that should not be your main focus for doing yoga. Moreover, with regular practice, we tend to become more sensitive to the kind of food our body asks for and when. This can also help keep a check on weight.

3. Stress relief. A few minutes of yoga during the day can be a great way to get rid of stress that accumulates daily – in both the body and mind. Yoga postures, pranayama and meditation are effective techniques to release stress.

4. Inner peace. We all love to visit peaceful, serene spots, rich in natural beauty. Little do we realize that peace can be found right within us and we can take a mini-vacation to experience this any time of the day! Benefit from a small holiday every day with yoga and meditation. Yoga is also one of the best ways to dissolve the ego with love.

5. Improved immunity. Our system is a seamless blend of the body, mind and spirit. An irregularity in the body affects the mind and similarly unpleasantness or restlessness in the mind can manifest as an ailment in the body. Yoga poses massage organs and strengthen muscles; breathing techniques and meditation release stress and improve immunity.

6. Living with greater awareness. The mind is constantly involved in activity – swinging from the past to the future – but never staying in the present. By simply being aware of this tendency of the mind, we can actually save ourselves from getting stressed or worked up and relax the mind. Yoga and pranayama help create that awareness and bring the mind back to the present moment, where it can stay happy and focused.

7. Better relationships. Yoga can even help improve your relationship with your spouse, parents, friends or loved ones! A mind that is relaxed, happy and contented is better able to deal with sensitive relationship matters. Yoga and meditation work on keeping the mind happy and peaceful; benefit from the strengthened special bond you share with people close to you.

8. Increased energy. Do you feel completely drained out by the end of the day? Shuttling between multiple tasks through the day can sometimes be quite exhausting. We have been conditioned in our culture to do rather than be. A few minutes of yoga everyday provides the secret to feeling fresh and energetic even after a long day.

9. Better flexibility & posture. You only need to include yoga in your daily routine to benefit from a body that is strong, supple and flexible. Regular yoga practice stretches and tones the body muscles and also makes them strong. It also helps improve your body posture when you stand, sit, sleep or walk.

10. Better intuition. Yoga and meditation have the power to improve your intuitive ability so that you effortlessly realize what needs to be done, when and how, to yield positive results. It works. You only need to experience it yourself.

11. Spontaneous Joy. There is a deep longing in our heart for love. Bhakti yoga helps you tap into the nature of what is always there – to be with source. There is no place we need to hide from God (Even when we struggle).

Consider setting the following intention the next time you step on your yoga mat:

May the deeper meanings of the teachings be revealed

Remember, yoga is a continuous process. So keep practicing! The deeper you move into your yoga practice, the more profound are its benefits.

I would love to know what YOUR top reasons are for doing yoga?

Namaste ~ Stephanie

 

Stephanie Spence and Saul David Raye

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From beginner to advanced, yogis from all over the world will be at Yoga Journal Live here in San Diego. Hope to see you there!

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Relax and let go. As soon as you leave home, determine to put all problems out of your mind. Tell yourself the more you allow your mind to focus on the joy of the present moment, the more you will be able to focus your world lens on having a meaningful experience. You can enjoy the wisdom, teachings, love and connectivity of other highly conscious individuals.

Go with the flow. Decide before you arrive that you’ll be open and willing to growth, but at the same time dwell in the peaceful place of knowing that you’ll get exactly what you came for. If you have that expectation in place when you arrive, it will manifest. Enjoy the life-enhancing power of being part of a collective and creative process. Trust in the process. Allow. You came for a reason, it will be revealed.

Unplug to plug in. Disconnect from technology so you can reconnect to you soul. A yoga retreat provides the perfect opportunity to be inwardly attentive, to still the mind, feed the soul, and deepen your yoga practice… but that’s not going to happen if you keep checking your phone. Disconnect from technology so you can reconnect to you soul.

 

 

Have a plan and be ready to break it. Retreats and festivals have a lot to offer. Look at and schedule the things you want to attend before you arrive. There are no rules. You can take a break from what’s on the schedule and go for a walk in nature. There are events in the evening like listening to uplifting music, spiritual movies and quality time with like-minded people. Always allow for the inspiration of the moment; don’t be locked into anyone’s agenda – even your own.

Take the time to journal. Keeping a journal is a great way to capture the inspiration from the week. Little by little the vision of the retreat will begin to fade when you return home; your journal will help remind you of the place of peace, the dreams and intentions you set forward, and the friendships and connections you made.

Take the time to see our beautiful city while you are here too. You can connect with me at San Diego Yoga Journal Live tomorrow through Monday at the San Diego Sheraton Hotel and Marina via Twitter @Stephanieyogini.

Up to the minute updates on their website and on Twitter: @Yoga_Journal and Instagram: yogajournal.

Hope to see you there!

Namaste

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