Hi Y’all! Let’s talk about yoga! And, specifically, the emotional benefits of yoga!
As I mentioned in my last post, I thought the term “yoga” was simply a glorified way to refer to stretching for many years. I’m happy to say that I’ve been proven wrong and that I’ve come to find a number of yoga practices to be incredibly beneficial to my daily life.
Yoga improves flexibility, core strength, and balance. It can make us more limber and much stronger, but it can also have significant positive impacts on our emotional health. Today, we’re going to discuss a few of the emotional benefits of yoga. So let’s get to it!
Benefit #1: It Provides Time to Feel
From personal experience, I have often felt disconnected or distracted from my emotions. I am essentially an empath and I spend a lot of time wanting to make sure others are happy. This, however, can cause me to neglect what I’m feeling and cause me to spend time in ways that continue to negatively impact my emotional well-being.
Yoga provides an opportunity to turn our focus inward. It gives us a dedicated space to feel through our bodies, listen to our minds, and tune into our emotions. It’s when we don’t take time to understand why we’re feeling the way we’re feeling that we continue down a spiral of negative emotions.
By making time for a daily yoga practice, you’ll be giving yourself time to reflect upon your emotional status. You’ll be able to ask why you’re feeling what you’re feeling. And, quite often, you’ll find a solution for how you can make a positive change so that you feel better.
Benefit #2: It Also Provides Time to Disconnect
Not all yoga is slow and deliberate with plenty of time for inward reflection. Some practices are purposely designed to be engaging, fast-moving, and to make you break a sweat. And these can be just as beneficial as their slower moving counterparts.
Sometimes, we are so wrapped up in our emotions that we are unable to see the daily miracles going on around us. Now, I don’t mean anyone walking on water or turning water into wine but, my friends, we must remember that the simple fact that we woke up again and have another day on this beautiful planet is a miracle in and of itself.
Yoga provides a time to disconnect from the emotions that may have been holding us down for days, months, or even years. This disconnection can often clear cobwebs in our emotional state that allow us to find new, healthier pathways forward.
Benefit #3: It Deepens Our Connection to Our Breath
When we are overcome with emotions, whether they be good, bad, sad, or downright ugly, the first thing we lose control of is our breath. When we’re angry or sobbing we’re taking these short, shallow breaths that often produce increased tightness in our chest or stomach and serve to further exacerbate those emotions.
A regular yoga practice is designed to deepen your connection to your breath. Breathing is the most important part of yoga. If you’re not breathing, you won’t be getting the full benefit out of everything yoga practice.
You will find the benefits of deepening your connection to your breath the next time you start to become overrun by emotions. If you are mindful of the emotions you’re experiencing and you choose to focus on calming your breath, you’ll still experience those emotions, but you’ll be able to move through them and learn from them in a healthier manner.
Benefit #4: It Reduces Stress
According to the Mayo Clinic, excessive stress causes a number of negative effects on the body, including anxiety, restlessness, irritability, anger, sadness, depression, and the unfortunate list goes on and on.
Modern life (at least in most developed cities) moves at an extremely fast pace. I feel so fortunate to have spent the last month in Costa Rica experiencing a bit of the Pura Vida, and this experience is a large catalyst behind the development of “The Slow Life Guides” as a resource for people looking to slow down and reconnect with themselves, Nature, and others.
Yoga can have extremely positive impacts on the reduction of stress in your life. It can clear your mind, help to release tension from your body, and clear negative emotions by reducing the levels of cortisol in the body.
Cortisol is a hormone that your body produces when stressed. But taking time out of your busy lifestyle to incorporate a regular yoga practice has been scientifically proven to reduce levels of cortisol which, in turn, reduces stress.
Benefit #5: It Helps You Sleep
I don’t know about you, but I’m much more irritable and upset when I don’t get enough sleep. My body needs at least eight hours per night and, depending on my activity level, it sometimes asks me for quite a bit more.
Not getting enough sleep has a number of negative impacts, including increased likelihood of being in an accident while driving, a lack of brain activity, and increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes, to name a few.
I used to have a lot of problems getting to sleep. I was worried about money, where I was going to live, how I might support a family one day, and a number of other things. And then I started meditating and doing yoga on a regular basis. Many of my earlier yoga practices were very gentle yin flows right before I climbed into bed.
I started to see that I was getting to sleep more easily after yoga or meditation and sleeping more healthily through the night. Physiologically, your body needs a healthy balance of melatonin and serotonin to sleep well. Yoga helps you maintain this healthy balance.
Thoughts from Savasana
As you lie in Savasana at the conclusion of our next yoga video (coming this Saturday), notice how you feel in comparison to how you felt at the start of the class. What emotions are you feeling? What are you stressing about doing as soon as the class ends?
If you feel that stress still, take a nice, deep breath. Remember that you have done something great for your body, mind, and emotions by practicing yoga. And keep in mind that it takes 21 days to build a habit. A lot can change in the course of three weeks, and you’ll be surprised how much better you feel by then if you keep joining us for yoga, meditation, and knowledge!
More ‘Slow Life’ Resources!
If you’re interested in yoga and meditations, check out this week’s Six-Minute Mindfulness Rainforest Meditation. We’ll also be posting a yoga class every Saturday, which you can find on our Patreon page!
If you need to find a new yoga studio close to where you live, or as you’re traveling on the road, be sure to check out Yoga Finder!
If you liked this article, please leave a comment below! If you have a question about anything, feel free to leave that below as well and I’ll do my best to respond hastily. As always, I wish you happiness and health, Namaste!