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What are the benefits of Yoga and meditation?

September 18, 2019 |

Read Time: 10 minutes

Meditation is an integral and essential aspect of Yoga and Yoga has great relevance in all our lives. Yoga is a way of life that brings about the following benefits when it is practiced regularly and consistently:

Physical wellbeing – In the present-day context, the physical aspect of Yoga is extremely popular.  Asana practiced in the right way with breath coordination and under the guidance of a qualified, experienced teacher will help in easing out any physical discomfort and pain. Asana practice built intelligently based on the individual capability and needs, will over a period of time, open up blockages at the physical level and lead to a sense of physical well being.

Mental wellbeing – Yoga is all about the mind. Our mind is by nature extremely restless, fickle and fast. Yoga is a very effective tool to calm and steady the mind. And this happens with the practice of Asana, Pranayama and, Dhyana along with the other limbs of Astanga Yoga. Yoga helps in reducing the continuous flow of numerous thoughts and brings one to a stable, tranquil state of mind.

Flexibility and Strength – We all seek to be flexible and strong enough to do all our activities without any aches and pains at each stage in our life. The practice of asana limb is definitely very effective in doing this. Dynamic asana practice helps in improving the flexibility of all the parts of the body and the static asana practice helps in building strength. In order to see a positive impact, the asana practice should be completely breath based so that breath compliments the movement enabling one to go deeper into each posture.

Stress buster – Yoga is an effective tool to reduce stress. Stress is the number one gateway disease and disorder in the modern world. Stress is the cause for so many idiopathic diseases and can also lead to anxiety and depression. Every other situation is perceived as stress in today’s times resulting in the body being in the fight or flight mode permanently. This adversely impacts the immunity system resulting in a hoard of diseases. Yoga practice helps in switching and slowly moving from the flight or fight mode to rest and growth mode.

Clear perception – Yoga is an extremely essential tool to bring a positive change in the way we perceive situations. Yoga practice helps in removing stubborn conditioning or habits in us which are deep rooted and dictate the way we think, feel and act. We are able to view each situation without any preconceived notions and thus Yoga aids in preventing every other situation from being viewed as a threat or stress.

Balanced approach to life – We all are so caught up in our familiar, all pervading and strong views that we tend to have lop sided view about whatever happens. Yoga helps in tempering our attitude to life and slowly rewires our thinking process resulting in a balanced approach to life.

Evenness of mind – Bhagavad-Gita, a great Indian scripture, says that Yoga is attaining the evenness of mind. We all are continuously on a roller coaster ride of ups and downs in the form of happiness and sadness, success and failure, pain and pleasure. Consistent Yoga practice helps one to rise above these momentary reactions and feelings and brings in an evenness of mind resulting in being unaffected by these momentary pleasure and pain.

Energising and calming effect – Yoga practice can result in both Brahmana (energising) and Langhana (calming) effect. An appropriate course plan comprising of exhale-based postures will help in calming our minds at the end of a long day.  Similarly an appropriate course plan comprising of inhale-based postures will energise our system whenever we are feeling dull and sluggish.

Increase in focus and attention span – Yoga is all about mindfulness. Yoga is about being present in the moment and being completely attentive and focused in whatever we are doing. Yoga works at keeping unwanted, negative thoughts at bay and aids in the single point focus in all our actions resulting in a high level of performance.

Longevity and better quality of life – Consistent, regular, focused Yoga practice done with complete faith will result in Prana Chalanam  (movement) and Prana Shuddhi (purification). Prana or life force is the essence of life. And for most of us, Prana is completely dissipated outside the body due to so much of impurities in us in the form of physical ailments and negative emotions. Yoga practice is the most effective tool to remove these impurities leading to purification and concentration of this life-giving Prana in our body. And as long as Prana is there in us, we must ensure we have a healthy, long life.

Better relationships – Regular and devoted Yoga practice of Yama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama helps in letting go off negative emotions and one is much more acceptable and magnanimous in our behavior towards others. At the same time, our expectations from others also reduce resulting in healthy relationships.

Peace and contentment – We all seek to be happy. True happiness is not momentary and lasts always. Yoga practice, as it deepens, makes us question what we are seeking in life, what is the source of true contentment and how to reach there. We rise above worldly pleasure and move towards lasting bliss.

Inward spiritual journey – Yoga as defined in the ancient Indian scriptures is a spiritual journey which involves withdrawing from the ephemeral, continuously changing material world and moving inward to seek one’s true eternal Self. The ultimate goal of Yoga is Self Realisation which will free us from the endless cycle of death and rebirth.

Release from suffering – Every action of ours is to insulate ourselves from suffering and move towards contentment. Yoga is the tool which makes us understand the difference between pain and suffering. Pain is inevitable. But Yoga practice brings in the clarity that suffering is optional. We can seek to delink from the pain with the deep practice of Yoga.

Surrender and humility – A basic tenet of Yoga is Iswarapranidhana. Yoga practice is all about giving our best in whatever we are doing and then stepping back and surrendering to the bigger picture and accepting that we are not in control of everything. Yoga practice ushers in humility and reduces the agitation in our minds which results from our desire to control everything in our life.

Discipline – Yoga is synonymous with discipline. And many a time’s people take this in a wrong way and dismiss Yoga as an extreme form of discipline resulting in physical torture or extreme deprivation. Yoga is about continuously examining our habits and behavior and then consciously eradicating negative habits and replacing them with positive habits which leads to a harmonious lifestyle. It is in this sense that Yoga is a discipline.

Better understanding of ourselves – An essential component of Yoga of Svadhyaya.  Svadhyaya means seeking knowledge of one’s true self. Svadhyaya acts as a mirror which not only reflects what we are today but also shows what our true self is. Yoga practice over a period of time eliminates misapprehension and incorrect knowledge which causes endless suffering.

Yoga is an extremely effective tool for a happy, healthy life and must be practiced with consistently, and regularity, with complete faith and devotion to reap all its many benefits.

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Founder, Managing Trustee and Sr. Yoga Teacher SKWC

Bengaluru, Karnataka, India