My Top 10 Reasons for Doing Yoga
In no particular order...
1. Perspective. The feeling of calm and clarity that I get after practising. Things that had niggled me before my practice seem to be less of a problem; things I couldn’t work out before seem simpler and more easy to deal with. It puts things into perspective, helps me to remember the things that are important and to let go of the stuff that doesn’t really matter.
2. The lightness I feel in my body when I’m practising regularly. It’s to do with being stronger and more flexible in my body, and also with letting go of unnecessary tension. It also makes a lot of things easier... running up and down the stairs, avoiding injury, gardening (all that forward bending!), better posture which helps digestion and lets your body work the way it’s meant to. It just makes everything feel better.
3. Health. I have no scientific proof, but for me one of the benefits of regular yoga practice is that I seem to get ill less often, and when I am ill I tend to get better more quickly than I used to. A yogi would tell you it's because yoga opens up your energy channels and frees you of the blockages that cause illness. I think it's a lot to do with learning how to listen to your body and to give it rest when rest for recovery is needed (instead of ploughing on regardless).
4. Energy. The strength, flexibility and improved lung capacity you get from regular practice gives you more energy, of course, but it’s also that once you have taken time to remember what’s really important to you, you leave aside the unnecessary things and choose to give your time and energy to the things that matter instead.
5. Happiness. Yoga makes me happy and when I’m happy I’m a better, kinder, more generous person. Yoga helps me to be the person I hope to be, more of the time.
6. Acceptance. Going with the flow. I have wasted so much energy in my life wishing I wasn’t somewhere (on the tube going to work, in a queue at the supermarket, at a family party I didn’t want to go to)... yoga helps me to accept where I am with good grace and stops me wasting all that energy on things I can’t change. Erich Schiffman calls it being wholehearted... we learn (or begin to learn) that being wholehearted about everything we do in life means that all our energies are directed towards the positive and not wasted on the negative.
7. Gratitude. I don’t know why yoga makes me feel grateful, but it does. I emerge from my practice feeling grateful for the things I have and for the freedom and opportunity to practise yoga.
8. Fun. I have fun when I am practising yoga – the people you get to meet through yoga are great, the practice is challenging and it changes every day, there's tons to read and study and lots to learn about life and about yourself.
9. Peace. Yoga makes me feel peaceful inside and it’s a feeling I love. The more I practice, the more peaceful I get, the more peaceful I get, the more peace becomes a priority for me. It’s a good feeling and I want it to permeate through more of my life. Different people describe this peace differently... for some people it relates to a feeling of being with God or a sense of the Divine, for others it's a connection to nature, some call it love. However you define it, it’s one of the most important goals and outcomes of yoga practice.
10. Patience. Yoga itself is a lesson in patience – hamstrings don’t lengthen overnight, your body opens more readily with gentle persistence than with force, deep meditation and all its benefits come only with time and practice. Having patience means that you can wait for things without losing your rag; it means you have time for things; it means you can stay calm in the face of delays or setbacks, which makes you healthier, which makes you happier, which makes those around you happier, which can’t be a bad thing, can it?If you’re out there and you have time, let me know what your favourite things about yoga are... and what I’ve forgotten...