Through my years as an HR and people-manager, and as a yoga teacher, I’ve noticed the same issues affecting our happiness & health. We’re overwhelmed, exhausted, spread too thin and really hard on ourselves.
I was in that place for pretty much my entire adult life, too, until recent years. Yoga played a huge part in my finding a way to feel like a much better version of me. It started as a means of winding down, and turned into a way for me to feel in more control of my mind and behaviour.
Yoga helped me find my voice and take the power back with my stress, anxiety, overwhelm & shame-talk.
I know that yoga can be misunderstood, which might prevent you from trying it out. “I’ve never been flexible” is a common misconception which makes the whole thing off-putting. But it means missing out on much more than a stretching session.
Yoga isn’t gymnastics, despite what popular images might convey! Flexibility is a by-product, not a prerequisite. Yoga is a merging of movement and stillness and it builds flexibility and strength, over time: for both body and mind.
There are many styles & teachers. Find your yoga and you’ll leave feeling fantastic. Find the wrong class and you’ll think you’re not good enough – the last thing yoga is about.
What yoga gives that other workouts don’t is techniques to take control of your thinking and mindset. Techniques to take the power back with your life and overcome what’s holding you back.
Here are five surprising reasons why yoga will improve your life.
1. You’ll stop being so hard on yourself.
If you’re hard on yourself (🙋🏼♀️), you might find yourself being kinder to yourself through yoga and talking to yourself with the same care and understanding as you do your loved ones.
You have as much right as everyone else to live life in a way that brings you real contentment. And yoga will help you to believe that.
Yoga helped me to address years of disordered thinking. Focusing inside helped me to see that I am much stronger than I had believed – and so are you.
Your thoughts inform your daily actions, which basically make up your life. The more you use yoga to anchor your attention to the moment, the more you realise the sea of thoughts, worries, fantasising, regretting that come and go. And you’ll be able to shift the focus and start feeling like a better you.
2. You’ll stop comparing yourself so much.
We have enough of this on social media, in the workplace, friendship circles, family. Comparison is a confidence killer. It’s time for much more self-acceptance in who we truly are, rather than striving to be something we are not.
If someone in class is more flexible, there’ll be many reasons for that. Just as there will be others who are less able-bodied than you. It’s a matter of perspective.
Focusing inside, rather than on others in the room, builds self-understanding and accountability. Yoga helps to keep our awareness on our own story and what our body needs.
As you understand and accept yourself more, you might just stop apologising for who you are, and respect yourself and others for our great uniqueness.
3. You’ll get clear, calm and focused.
Yoga encourages looking inside with total honesty at the good and the bad. As you start to look inside, you’ll build deeper focus and awareness – much needed in this time of ultimate distraction. In that way, it’s an antidote to modern busy life.
As you become calmer more regularly you might even find that you’ve let go of long-held emotions and feel like a weight’s been lifted.
Honesty, acceptance and clarity will move you ahead when you’re feeling stuck. The fog lifts, and you’ll start to make sense of what’s going on inside as you take time out from the needs, opinions and expectations of others.
4. You’ll find your voice.
As your focus and clarity improve, you’ll realise you’re more confident in your abilities as your memory is clearer, your self-criticism reduces and your self-belief increases.
You’ll notice yourself making decisions and even having an opinion on matters that you may have kept quiet on before. As your self-respect builds, you’ll have faith and trust in your abilities and be more comfortable standing up for that. Behaviours that are difficult if you’re in the midst of stress and anxiety.
5. You’ll benefit those around you.
It’s clear when someone is either fed up or full of positivity. Building inner awareness, strength and contentment will mean interacting with others from that place, instead of a place of stress and exhaustion.
It’s commonly said that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Yoga will help you to impact those closest to you even more positively. Everyone wins.
It’s science-backed, too.
Many studies have been done to look at the benefits of yoga on health and the brain.
- The area which controls mind-wandering and self-relevance.
- The area which assists learning, cognition, memory and emotional regulation.
- The part associated with perspective-taking, empathy and compassion.
- And the section where a lot of regulatory neurotransmitters (the body’s chemical messengers) are produced.
And evidence that regular practice shrinks the amygdala which controls the fight or flight response and plays a key role in stress, anxiety and fear.
So, as well as feeling great in your body and more comfortable and at ease, you’ll feel it just as much, if not more, in your mind. Yoga will help you feel like a better you.
You are so much more capable than you realise. Finding your yoga will help you see that.
Find Your Yoga.
Whatever you need (or don’t), the right yoga will optimise your life.
Not into spirituality? No problem. Hate sweaty, hot classes? Totally fine. Lonely? Find your community in and outside yourself. Overwhelmed? Build focus and presence.
There’s a yoga for every-body. Find your yoga and you’ll experience more happiness, peace, and belonging — no matter what comes your way.
With the right tools, you have the power to live life your way.