On the surface, yoga is a system of physical movements designed to improve flexibility, strength and balance. But through practice we discover that yoga goes much deeper than its poses – it is a virtual ocean of healing potential that benefits the human mind, body, and spirit together. Yoga practitioners often report that they are better able to handle the stresses and challenges that life offers through a stronger sense of self. As an art and science that has developed over thousands of years, yoga has much to offer the body, mind and soul.
Here are several thoughts from yogis, teachers, and students on the power of yoga to shift the pathways of our entire being:
Yoga and the Mind:
Before all else, yoga reminds us to be still. Practicing slowly reveals that without mental peace, no amount of physical healing will benefit us. While paying close attention to each movement, the mind becomes absorbed in the actions of the body. With calm, focused awareness the mind assists the body through challenging and unusual positions. This approach translates from the yoga mat to the rest of life. A calm and steady mind that has learned to deal with the physical challenges presented by yoga can remain peaceful and focused when presented with difficult situations in life. Likewise when our minds are healthy, our physical practice mirrors our positive thoughts.
- “Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.”
- “Yoga has a sly, clever way of short-circuiting the mental patterns that cause anxiety.”
Yoga and the Body:
Yoga differs from other exercises in that the poses and movements are practiced with focus on the subtleties and effects of each asana. A growing awareness of the physical body takes place, unfolding like a flower or new leaf in the spring that spreads to absorb the warmth of the sun.
Yoga centers, challenges, and changes the human body. The practice awakens us to how wondrously complex our physical existence is, teaching us to cherish and nourish our beings whenever we have the opportunity.
- “You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.”
- “The yogi will tell you that you feel and look as young as your spine is elastic.”
– Richard Hittleman
- “The most important pieces of equipment you need for doing yoga are your body and your mind.“
Yoga and the Spirit:
At last, yoga helps us locate the spiritual intention behind all of our earthly movements. Our practice involves the mind, body, and spirit together precisely because that is what we need to live fully in this world – a union of thinking, feeling and being all at once, and never just one alone.
- “Yoga is essentially a practice for your soul, working through the medium of your body.” -Tara Fraser
- “In our uniquely human capacity of connect movement with breath and spiritual meaning, yoga is born.” -Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa