3 life lessons you learn in yoga class

How yoga betters your life off the mat

 

Image courtesy @evolutionyogalv, model wearing Agate Yoga Tank

Yoga is one of the most popular forms of exercise. With an array of class styles out there, like restorative, hot yoga, and vinyasa flow, the physical body benefits from stress relief and increased strength. Let's go a step further and uncover the mental and emotional benefits yoga provides.

Step onto your yoga mat for 60-minutes and you're putting a pause on Life. There are three lessons learned in yoga that not only improve your physical flow but your life off of the mat.

  • Breath
  • Balance
  • Flexibility

 

Breath

In Class: At the beginning of class, we are instructed to bring awareness to the breath. As the internal heat rises and the poses deepen, we are reminded to breathe fully without holding it. Then class ends in savasana where we return to our normal breath and release any tension.

In Life: The lungs are beautiful muscles – providing both an involuntary and voluntary action. During stressful situations, like a work deadline, negative encounter with a friend, or deadlock traffic, we tense up and our breathing shallows. Practice bringing awareness to your breath just like in yoga. Do this throughout the day and especially when you are feeling overwhelmed. By breathing deeply and fully, we oxygenate the blood and the brain releases endorphins. So not only will your body relax, your mood will also be elevated.

 

Balance

In Class: The standing series of yoga provides the opportunity to challenge your strength and grace. Find your drishti and let the sway or wobble not scare you. Settle into the sweet spot of effort and ease in each standing pose. Think about everything that goes into Dancer’s Pose (Natarajasana). Balancing on one leg, we hold the free foot and kick while our arm reaches forward and the body arcs. Balancing effort and ease with each physical adjustment takes focus so you don’t fall.

In Life: The secret to a happy life lies in the application of the yogic principle Sthira Sukha Asanam (Sanskrit for the balance between effort and ease). Pay attention to your breath, your thoughts, your emotions, and your physical state. Where are you out of balance? Understand that too much effort in one aspect will burn you out. Too much ease and you will never realize your full greatness. That is also the spirit of Stelari's Find Your Rhythm vision.

 

Flexibility

In Class: Each yoga class is different. One day your hips might be tight, the next day they are open, or your left side just doesn’t fold into the pose the same as your right side. Physical flexibility develops in yoga as you get stronger. That doesn’t mean you will become a bendy pretzel. Instead, you become more aware of your physical state and learn to bend and not break.

In Life: Life is filled with awesome challenges. It's how we approach them that determines the outcome. Mental and emotional flexibility off the mat means understanding the give and take in each moment. Before reacting, take a moment to scan the situation just as you would your body. Where do you need to let go and where do you need to hold on – to ideas, practices, emotions?

The next time you are flowing through a yoga series, pay attention to how you feel in that moment. Then bring that awareness into your daily life. After all, yoga class is the practice – the real yoga starts the moment you step off your mat.



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