The benefits of yoga

The first traces of the existence of Yoga were recorded from cave drawings over 5,000 years old. It travelled from the east into western society and became very popular in the 1960s’. Nowadays yoga has evolved into many different styles and disciplines to meet the needs of our changing society, but the core of yoga, the practice of making a connection with oneself, remains the same.

Yoga is one of the few physical activities that combines body, mind and spirit. It has an endless list of health benefits, some of which overlap with other physical activities and some of which are unique to yoga. Yoga is my medicine, it’s the kindest thing you can give yourself. I turn to it on days where I’ve been sitting at a desk for hours and need a good stretch, days I’m feeling bloated and sluggish, or on days where I’m frazzled and just need to slow down. Recently I find it benefits me most when I practise first thing in the morning. It sets me up for the day and shifts all the cobwebs. Having said that I’ve had the best night sleep after an evening class!

Yoga is a very personal journey that is constantly evolving. What initially brings us to yoga changes as we go deeper into our practice. We start to see the multilayered benefits and challenges that the mat can bring up for us. It encourages us to look at all aspects of life, good and bad, and helps us to accept them. It supports us beyond the mat as we begin to see it as so much more than simply a sequence of movements. Each asana gives clarity and balance to our daily lives; to how we see ourselves and how we relate to others. Trying to understand exactly what yoga is about can be quite a vast challenge, but I take pleasure in finding something new every time I practise.

In the illustration below you’ll see the huge variety of the benefits of yoga. You’ll probably even find a few of the reasons that brought you to the practice and a few that are new to you! As it progresses to the inner circles you’ll notice the benefits move from the physical body, towards the mind, and further steps take us to the spiritual benefits.

Ruth Delahunty Yogaru