The benefits of a yoga practice don’t evaporate as soon as you’ve rolled up your mat and moved on to the next moment. Yoga’s influence tends to find its way into other corners your life, showing up to enrich your physical, emotional, and often spiritual experience in many unexpected ways.
The most noticeable is the way that yoga can lead to more strength and flexibility, and also more awareness of the sensations in your body as you move about your life. Perhaps you find yourself more aware of your feet, of how you’re standing. You notice that you tend to lean on the inner arches, or on one foot more than another. This awareness means that you can make adjustments for yourself to increase your comfort. Or perhaps you notice that your yoga practice has helped you to feel less stiff when you wake up in the morning. Maybe your increased flexibility has made it easier to tie your shoes, or reach around your back to scratch an elusive itch! You never know how yoga might benefit you, and where these benefits might show up.
Have you ever gone into a yoga class feeling frazzled and out of sorts, and emerged at the end feeling soothed and “tuned-in,” like all of your rough edges have been smoothed out? This feeling tends to linger long after you leave your mat, making it easier to deal with busy days and stressful situations. Yoga can be a fantastic emotional “re-set,” especially during those times when it feels easier to do something else instead. A few rounds of cat and cow, or a sun salutation can help immensely when you feel disconnected from yourself.
Yoga also teaches us to connect with our breath, to use it to support and deepen our practice. This is relevant not just to a physical yoga practice, but also to life on a larger scale. Being able to connect with your breath can be a wonderful tool to cope with stress and challenges, and to tune in with your inner self. Sitting quietly with your own breath can be a spiritual practice as well, and might also spark interest in building a meditation practice.
The more you return to your mat throughout your life, the more you will notice the subtle ways in which the skills you develop on the mat can impact your life in positive and powerful ways. Yoga has a way of making your human experience a better one, whether you’re focusing on your balance in tree pose, or connecting with your breath during a busy day at work.
Written by Grace Martin
Grace Martin is a library assistant and aspiring writer who loves food, fiber arts, and reading any book she can get her hands on. She was drawn to yoga in early 2017, and enjoys incorporating aspects of meditation and ritual into her practice. She has lived in Keene for the past two years.