Let's Explore The Benefits Of Yoga Beyond The Mat
By @gracemcgeehan therapist and yoga teacher.
I used to be so inflexible, like I was a million miles from being able to touch my toes! After approximately 6 years developing a very dedicated and strong yoga practice, I am now able to feel so many amazing health benefits, which go way beyond the mat, and not just for the body, but the mind also. It is now my passion and goal to share this with as many people as I possibly can! I honestly can say, that today I do not know what my life would be like without yoga – it will forever be a true gift.
Even though this article began with me talking about flexibility, something worth mentioning is that flexibility is simply a bi-product of this wonderful practice. There are so many other healing benefits to be experienced along the way - below are my top 5...
1. Connect With Your Body On A Deep Level
Yoga is a very internal practice, you are tuning into the subtle sensations of your body, that perhaps on a day-to-day basis we forget or ignore. This brings up so much that we can then work with moving forwards. My yoga teacher always said to me ‘how do you know if you are working too hard if you can’t even feel that your lower back holds so much tension / tightness?’ I thought this was so true! Connecting with your body in this way allows us to be more intuitive and give it what it needs when it needs it – rest, exercise, food, love, warmth and so on.
2. Transitioning Softly
I always teach in my classes how it’s not just about the specific pose you are in, it is about how you transition from one to the next. In an unhurried, unrushed way, reducing rigidity. Moving in this way can help us to do so in our daily lives, as we transition through seasons, phases of our lives and so many other things.
3. Going With The Flow
Who knows what is going to happen in life, therefore we all have to go with the flow. As much as we try to plan and control this, by flowing on the mat, perhaps we can learn how to let go of our need to control, and just surrender to the flow of life.
Breathing is what keeps us alive. It’s so easy to forget to breathe, to not take any time at all to focus on the actual thing that gives us life! Yoga, however, is time and space to do just this. The breath, in my opinion, is the most important part of the practice, and the movement is just a tool to find ways to deepen, lengthen and expand the breath, and in my opinion there is nothing that feels better than this.
5. Lighter, Longer, More Space…
Moving your body like you do on the mat in yoga is a way to create additional space, feel lighter and longer. And if we can feel like this in our practice, we can bring this spaciousness, this lightness and this length into our lives, difficult conversations and important decisions etc. It is all 5 of these points that bring me back to the mat, every. Single. Day.
If you would like to start a yoga practice, here are my top tips to get going:
- Do a little bit every day – even if it's 5 minutes in a gentle forward fold, it is so much better than nothing!
- Don’t focus on what it looks like, focus on how it feels. We all have different bodies, so each shape will look different for everyone. But it will have the same effect, which is the most important thing.
- Get clear on why you want to practice yoga, what your intention is. Is it something physical? Mental? Emotional? Spiritual? Once we know our why, it gives us the purpose and reason we need to create a dedicated practice.
I hope you enjoyed reading this, please come long to my online classes, all information can be found on my website www.gracemcgeehan.com. I am also a Rapid Transformational Therapist, a method based on Hypnotherapy.
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