I have never thought of myself as flexible ~ at least not physically flexible. I don’t think I have ever been able to touch my toes without bending my knees.
So, when I first began to learn yoga, it was mostly for the benefits that I knew my body would love in terms of stretching and improving my flexibility. It all began with a video I used to practice at home a few times a week.
Even at that time, I came to realize that the benefits exceeded improved flexibility ~ cardio and strength training were part of the practice as well.
It wasn’t until many years later when I was introduced to Moksha and Bikram Yoga practices that I realized the benefits that went beyond the physical.
Both practices are done in a heated room and follow a specific set of postures that are completed in 1 – 11/2 hour sessions.
Benefits Beyond the Obvious
The first thing I noticed was the focus on breath. There was no way I could survive the practice if I didn’t remind myself to breathe deeply. I was so used to shallow breathing ~ breathing from the back of my throat as opposed to the deep lung and belly breathing promoted in yoga.
I learned that breathing deeply has great impact on physical processes ~ slowing down the heartbeat and blood pressure ~ increasing oxygen flow throughout the body ~ especially the brain.
Over time, I found myself naturally using my breath differently and I noticed that my physical endurance had improved and rather quickly.
Breathing also brings me back to this moment ~ this breath. It can become a mantra in that way. Many times in yoga practice, the instructor would remind us to come back to our breath ~ to breathe as we went into the posture, held it and came back out.
Isn’t it amazing that we often need to be reminded to breathe? Many of us have the habit of holding our breath ~ almost all the time ~ but especially during more intense emotional moments and in times of physical pain.
Maybe even beyond all of these benefits, I recognized a calmness in my mind. And this occurred quite quickly ~ it didn’t take weeks or months of practice to feel this benefit. One session made a difference for me.
So much focus was required to withstand the heat, to maintain balance and to physically attain and hold the postures. If I let my mind wander, I would lose balance or become physically overwhelmed ~ so I learned to keep coming back to the moment and to my body.
Get Comfortable in Your Own Skin
Speaking of body ~ yoga is an amazing way to ground yourself. And if you are anything like me, grounding can be a challenge. I tend to be in my head ~ my thoughts and my daydreams ~ much more readily than in my physical vessel.
Did you realize that your emotions are felt in your body? This is a recent epiphany for me. I became aware that for the last several years, I have been doing my best to think through my emotions ~ even to think my emotions ~ as opposed to feeling them.
One day not long ago, I really felt myself come into my physical body as I landed in my hometown. You know how our long-term childhood homes can evoke strong memories and stir the emotions? Well, that is what happened to me. It was in that moment, though, that I realized “of course, I must be in my body if I am committed to feeling my emotions instead of thinking them ~ where and how else can they be felt?”
Join The Conversation
Self-Connection Through Yoga is the topic of the next episode of Serving Consciously on Friday November 25 at 12:00 noon (PST) on www.ctrnetwork.com.
I am excited to introduce you to my guest for that show ~ Santoshi Davis.
Santoshi Davis is a Certified Executive Coach, a Certified Akhanda Yoga Instructor and a graduate student working towards a Masters in Psychotherapy, Spirituality and Art (Art Therapy Specialization).
She holds a degree in Disability Studies and Certifications in Positive Psychology and Addictions Studies. She is a leading expert in performance management, work-related rehabilitation and conflict resolution.
Santoshi is the founder of Upward Frog Executive Coaching and Consulting and an avid volunteer. You can contact Santoshi at [email protected]
I hope you can join us for what promises to be an informative and exciting conversation. Whether you are a yogi or not, I know you will find nuggets of wisdom to help you self-connect. Just make your way over to www.ctrnetwork.com and click on Listen Live!
Elizabeth Bishop is the creator of the Conscious Service Approach designed to support helping professionals to reconnect with and fulfill their desire to make a difference in the lives of those they support. Following the completion of a diploma in Developmental Services and a degree in Psychology and Religious Studies, she completed a Masters in Adult Education through St. Francis Xavier University, providing the opportunity to test and refine the elements of the Conscious Service Approach. Elizabeth is the host of Serving Consciously, a new show on Contact Talk Radio. Simply tune in to www.ctrnetwork.com and click Listen Live at 12pm PST every 2nd and 4th Friday.