For a few years now, there’s not been a day that’s gone by, or a post or article written, where the virtues of yoga were not extolled as a cure-all. All the more since the public health crisis, whereby the need for wellbeing and for reconnecting with oneself is so palpable.
So is it just fashionable, or does it have universal positive effects? Is yoga a pursuit that’s the preserve of boho chic types who are attuned to their chakras, or a lifestyle choice to stay in the best of health physically and mentally? Have you failed at life if you’re not a master yogini or yogi by the time you hit 40?
A philosophy for life
In India, its place of origin, yoga is a true philosophy for life, one that’s kindly and positive, which goes far beyond physical exercise. It’s also a spiritual quest that makes it possible to align the body, mind and surrounding environment for a holistic kind of harmony. In Sanskrit, yoga means “union of body and mind”, and combines breathwork (prayanama), meditation and poses (asanas).
It’s a fabulous stress-buster – here are 5 compelling arguments to convince you to roll out your mat and become a devotee.
1 – A pursuit suitable for everyone
Yoga suits everyone. You’ve just got to go for the version that’s best suited to you, from the most gentle to the most high-energy, from the most spiritual to the toughest. Each to their own pace and degree of flexibility, and each participant holds the pose for as long as they personally can manage. It’s yoga that adapts to suit you. Even if you’re not moving much, at least you’re doing breathwork, and taking care of yourself in a replenishing way. At any event, yoga gives you a sense of serenity and a peaceful feeling.
2 – Feeling good about yourself
A yoga session calms the mind down and makes the body feel lighter. It’s time to yourself, which makes it possible to get to know yourself physically, intellectually, emotionally, and to get your confidence back. It’s like a bubble in which you learn to calm your mind down and control your breathing, which massages various organs and oxygenates the body. Yoga contributes to general wellbeing, you feel balanced, de-stressed and in a good mood. You sleep better and can concentrate again.
3 – Feeling more aligned
Reconnecting with yourself, your body and other people… At a time when life goes at a frenetic pace, you end up forgetting all about your body. Yoga makes it possible to get reconnected with it, regain awareness of each of its parts, and all the related emotions and sensations, to better channel and manage them. This pursuit loosens tight muscles and releases nervous tension, pressure is lessened, and you let yourself go. Stress and associated ailments, like the usual back pain, vanish as if by magic. Here and now, you get grounded in the present time, let go, and this new sense of balance makes you open to others.
4 – Gently becoming more flexible
Even those who are as stiff as a board become more flexible session by session, millimetre by millimetre, throughout the body, from the wrists to the hips to the back. After the stretches, you try to push each pose as far as you can possibly reach. Ah, how nice it is to press your hands flat on the floor in front of your feet at long last… Whereas before, you couldn’t touch even the floor with your fingertips! To feel the incredible sensation that all your limbs are longer, and able to move more freely! You feel on top of the world and invincible.
Being more flexible is also about improving the condition of your joints, being more mobile and more comfortable in your day-to-day movements.
5 – Building muscle deep down
Yoga poses make it possible to work the muscles on the surface and deep down, but gently, without doing any damage. All parts of the body get a workout – the upper and lower limbs, the torso and the pelvic region. Yoga tightens up the muscles, tones and sculpts the body, giving it a relaxed, harmonious look. It makes it possible to raise the level of muscular endurance depending on your chosen type of yoga. For example, ashtanga yoga is the most acrobatic, suitable for those with excess energy, and involves a quick succession of poses that switch paces. Whereas the most gentle type, vishranta yoga, is essentially designed for winding down and relaxation.
A healthy mind in a healthy body
Yoga may be a current trend, but most importantly it’s a lifestyle pursuit going back thousands of years whose positive effects on the whole body make it particularly well suited to these times in which we’re living. It helps towards our search for meaning and for a return to what is essential. Yoga makes you a little stronger each day, since beyond the poses, this life discipline encompasses meditation, diet, our attitude to others and a positive mindset… So go on, everyone head for your mats!
Namasté (I salute the divine within you)