Conscious breathing, self-knowledge and self-regulation
While many people raised in Western cultures consider yoga only as exercise, the practice offers much more than just better health (which is in itself a great benefit!).
Our bodies respond to emotions by adopting certain muscular patterns. As we undo these patterns through asanas, emotions may well up and be released – our breath allow us to transform these emotions. We get to know ourselves better and we learn how “between the stimulus and response, lies our power and our freedom” (quote attributed to Victor Frankl).
Yoga asanas, or poses, combine muscles strength and stretching in pairs of muscle groups. Yoga helps to keep the core of our posture, the spine, in good health through the normal wear of daily use, and as we age.
Regular yoga practice enhances digestion and hormonal balance through the twisting and squeezing effects of poses on internal organs and glands; it decreases blood pressure and strengthens the immune system through conscious breathing and deactivation of the stress response. Yoga also helps one maintain a healthy body mass, relieves anxiety and stress, increases focus, and can relive insomnia and depression. The concentration that one practices on the mat in order not to fall over when doing a complex balancing pose translates to focus that one can invoke in other situations off the mat.