Just found this wonderful article on the Daily Titan: beautifully summarises why it makes sense to do yoga and why it’s crazy not to!
Soothe the mind, relax the body
Daily Titan Assistant Opinion Editor
Published: December 07, 2011
Yoga is one of the fastest growing health and wellness practices in the United States. According to NAMASTA North American Studio Alliance, over 30 million people practice yoga nationwide.
The popular discipline provides many health benefits for people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds, including those with illness, physical ailments or injuries, or mild to moderate mental disorders.
Yoga means “union,” referring to the union between the individual and the universal, uniting the individual with divine consciousness.
But yoga has united more than the individual and spirituality; it has united all types of people, as it can be practiced by anyone.
“Yoga is for everybody,” said Leeza Villagomez, a yoga instructor and owner of the Yoga Den Health Spa located in Corona. “Yoga means to unite, to balance. Yoga is a vast journey with many different styles and meditation. There’s not just one style of yoga because that would mean there’s just one way of thinking, and I don’t believe in that.”
Indeed, there are many styles of yoga, such as Hatha and Bikram, and various intricacies involved in attempting to master each of the different practices.
Many yogis, or those practicing yoga, begin their practice strictly for physical benefits, such as becoming toned or gaining cardio-related improvements, but their practice typically evolves into a much more spiritual experience, as the mind-body connection is harnessed.
“I first started doing yoga because I was told the stretching and flexibility is good for your body,” said Alyssa Twitchell, 23, a Cal State Fullerton alumna and former yoga instructor.
“At first, I couldn’t get my mind to slow down and actually be into it. After a few months, I was able to stop the thoughts and really appreciate yoga for the spiritual feeling and peacefulness of the mind that it gives,” said Twitchell.
It is no coincidence yoga has gained intense popularity during a technological revolution, where we have become ardent multi-taskers who are absorbed in consuming and producing online media, especially through the use of social networking sites.
Our constant desire and need to be socially linked, more often in front of a computer than in person in many instances, has driven our minds to an endless state of pandemonium.
Yoga can help turn our mind’s switch from “on” to “off,” away from the laptop.
“It is very difficult to stop thinking about daily responsibilities, but yoga is your time for you,” Twitchell said. “It allows you to focus on your body and your breathing, and not on what you have to do that day. It puts you in a state where you are one with your body, mind and soul.”
Once yogis begin to achieve this state of mind, many begin to adopt their practice as a way of life, or means of healthy, happy living.
“I just felt like it was so normal for people to move through yoga, keeping the body young, vivacious, open and radiant,” Villagomez said.
When you unite the body, mind and soul through yoga, you will become more comfortable and secure with your being.
You will embrace your authentic self, loving who you are and being grateful for life and its many different energies.
This will usually have the most impact on your ability to improve relationships and cultivate positive outcomes into your life.
“If you could go back and look at your life and love it and love who you are, you’ll step into your light, your love and what you’re created from, instead of having questions or ‘woulda, shoulda, couldas’ or shame,” Villagomez said.
The mind-body connection that can be achieved in yoga will raise one’s level of awareness, birthing a greater sense of appreciation and capacity to love.
“With yoga, you are more aware and appreciate that you have two hands, two arms, two legs and have all the senses–to hear, to see, to smell, to feel, to make sound out of your voice,” Villagomez said. “Basically, you learn not to take for granted your creation.”