The Benefits of Yoga Body, Mind & Spirit

Yoga awakens the body, stabilizes and strengthens, softens and opens. Yoga creates a connection within ourselves. 

I was first introduced to yoga in my early 20s and then started practicing again in my 30s. I took some classes and enjoyed them immensely, but it took a long time to truly get it and experience the benefits beyond the physical practice. Many years later I incorporate yoga into my daily life without it being a chore. Now, it brings me only joy and a sense of calm and confidence.

Having a heart and mind open to the possibilities of yoga with no preconceived notions of how it should be and look is what made the difference in my practice then and now.

For 1,000s of years yogis have touted the mental, physical and spiritual benefits of yoga. Patanjali, author of yoga sutras, the first yoga text known to be written, defined yoga as chitta-vritti-nirodhah which means cessation of the turning of the mind. That’s what yoga means for me, a calming of the mind so that I can slow down and stop the whirlwind that exists in my head.

One of the great teachings of yoga is called the Kaivalya, which in Sanskrit means “space from the mind.” When you are not engrossed in your mind, you don’t react to things, but instead you respond and the response is from a source of inspiration, insight and intuition.

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We live in a society that creates a mindset of everything we do is important and urgent. All the situations that arise in our everyday lives demand our immediate attention which fuels a non-stop mind and agitation. Many of us living in the western world never slow down. We go. And we go some more. The price of having many options, fewer boundaries and lots of freedom and choices, is that we don’t have any natural breaks from the constant go and do.

We are driven by schedules or perceived obligations of what we should and have to do. The busy mind takes over and our life becomes built on concepts rather than truly living in a way that allows us to emerge naturally and just be. Very often we get caught up in social media, trends and keeping up with what everyone is doing and we get lost in the excitement and the should-ing ourselves and forget how to slow down. Sometimes the non-stop lifestyle creates numbness to our true desires and needs and we lose that connection within ourselves.

The many benefits of yoga affect us somewhere along the physical, mental and spiritual spectrum. Some benefits will resonate more with you than others and some practices will have a stronger effect in one area of our life than another. You may find that yoga gives you what you need on and off the mat at the exact moment that you need it.

Physical Benefits

  • Improved body flexibility, alignment and balance
  • Enhanced overall muscular strength and tone
  • Improved cardiovascular endurance (stronger heart)
  • Improved stamina and strength
  • Lubrication of the joints, ligaments and tendons
  • Improved bone density
  • Improved digestion
  • Improved abdominal strength and core awareness
  • Weight control
  • Enhanced immune system
  • Detoxification, cleansing from the inside out
  • Relief from chronic physical pain
  • Deepening of the breath and increased energy levels
  • For women: some of the asanas (poses) have a therapeutic effect for menstrual and menopausal symptoms
  • Helps release constricted muscles for better flexibility
  • Look younger due to better blood circulation
  • Releases muscle tension
  • Improves balance
  • Improves back posture which helps reduce back pain

Mental Benefits

  • Enhanced ability to relax and discover the power of patience
  • Calmer mind
  • Better concentration
  • Improved sleeping patterns
  • Stress relief, thanks to controlling emotions
  • Prevention and relief from stress-related disorders
  • Intellectual enhancement, leading to improved decision-making skills
  • Improves focus
  • Calms brain activity which helps improve sleep patterns
  • Reduces severity of anxiety and depression

Spiritual Benefits

  • Life with meaning, purpose and direction
  • Inner peace, tranquility and contentment
  • Become inspired to revitalize your life and live more joyfully
  • Age gracefully
  • Deepened self-awareness
  • Deepened sense of gratitude
  • Yoga brings a kind of stillness that brings out one’s inner beauty
  • Encourages meditation and reflection
  • Strengthens sense of awareness
  • Builds an appreciation for the people and experiences around you
  • Cultivates mindfulness by shifting your awareness to the sensations, thoughts, and emotions

Yoga may start out as a physical practice, but if we’re dedicated to the practice, it can become a way of life. The benefits of yoga creates a shift in perspective can be extremely powerful- it reminds us that we are the captains of our own ships and we possess all the tools we need to build the best version of ourselves.

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30 Comments

  1. What great quotes. I love doing yoga but don’t practice as often as I should. I always say “I suck at it” but I realize everyone is on their own journey. I am just not flexible at all, but I know if i was more regular, I would be better.

  2. I stretch a lot, but have yet to attempt Yoga (but I really want to do it!) there are soooooo many benefits to yoga and it’s time I get on the bandwagon with this one! My Dr actually brought it up last visit to help with my migraines, I guess I ought to start now!

  3. Yoga is so wonderful! I love how you highlighted the benefits, I need to make more time for it!

  4. I think i need to start again doing yoga because i stopped doing due the work and life. This is awesome how much can the yoga do to our body.

  5. Thank you for this post. I am delighted to find someone who feels the way I do about yoga. I started practicing in my 20s, got certified in my 30s and it sustained me through pregnancy and childbirth, and now, in my 40s, it has become a way of life. My practice evolved through the years and I am grateful for this foundation. Indeed it is a solid basis to evolve, body, mind and spirit. ? Namaste

  6. Yoga has become a huge part of my life. It is a great exercise for me since I have MS. And mentally it is the best thing to help me relax.

  7. I started yoga in January and I absolutely love it. I go to a class and the instructor does spend a while at the beginning each time explaining a little more about the spiritual side rather than it just being an exercise class. i can’t believe how good I feel after each class, I’ve learnt so much already and it’s only been a few months.

  8. I was recently told that it’s not about how strong I am but how I need to focus that strength. I haven’t ever really had the patience to slow do for yoga but I know that I would benefit from it.

  9. I really want to get into yoga on the regular basis. I took a hot yoga class recently for the first time in many years and I felt like I was going to die during the class but afterwards I felt so empowered and my body felt so great. thank you for the reminder!

  10. I’ve had so many doctors recommend yoga to me (to reduce stress). I should really plan on taking it up! It’s beneficial in so many ways, I don’t know why I haven’t started yet?

  11. Totally preaching to the choir here – I agree with all these points! I can’t wait to start really getting into yoga after my half marathon this weekend. I’m taking a break from hardcore running, and will focus on other exercises 🙂

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