In addition to the positive physical benefits of yoga, there are also a great many mental benefits to a regular practice.
As Rolf Gates states, “Somewhere along the line of our lives, our bodies have fallen asleep.” Yoga brings us back to a place of exploration, appreciation and wonder. Some students come to yoga with little knowledge of what it truly is. They can be unsure and, perhaps, skeptical of the quiet moments we take to begin and end each class, focused on the breath and the way our bodies feel in the stillness. Often the postures are new and feel awkward to start. As students stay with a consistent yoga practice, their bodies begin to flow easily and even gratefully sink or joyously lift into the postures. The linking of movement and breath becomes natural, calming, and a needed release for tight and tense muscles.
As we commit to this regular practice of yoga, we become accustomed to pausing mid-practice to notice the breath and notice how our bodies feel in the moment. This is an awareness that begins to penetrate our lives off the mat, as well. Maybe it’s a pause in our day to notice the wind rustling through the trees or to notice the laughter of our coworkers down the hall. In my teaching, I call them interludes. We might interrupt a strenuous flow of postures to focus on an ujjayi breath while changing our movement pattern. We might stand still in tadasana (mountain pose) to note how one side of the body feels compared to the other. All of this is a reminder to also embrace the moments of interlude within our lives; maybe a period of time between jobs or that moment when the kids have gone back to school and the quiet descends. Finding these moments of interlude in each day is a gift that yoga gives to each of us if we allow our bodies and our senses to awaken to the possibilities.