Can Yoga Make You Feel Better?

It usually goes like this, “Hi. My doctor told me I should do yoga.” I reply with, “What kind of yoga?”  There is this look of panic on the new students face. It seems their doctor forgot to mention there are over 150 different styles of yoga to choose from. Of course this requires further inquiry from me about why their doctor referred them to yoga which only leads to even more panic for the student.

Relax. There is no need to get it right. There is a need to get connected to yourself. The disconnection is why you are feeling off to begin with. Yes, yoga can make you feel better. It does so by teaching you how to become re-connected to your body, heart(emotions) and mind.

It’s a very rare student that takes up yoga because everything is right in their world. Most people start yoga because something is off. So, as you journey into learning how to feel better with yoga, it’s important know why you want to take up yoga (or why someone you trust advised you to). What are you looking to attain in your body, your mind, or with your emotions?  Are your expectations realistic?  And finding the right yoga for where you are now.

Yes, yoga can make you feel better. But, so can a bucket of ice cream, a shot of tequila, a vacation and a night out with your bestie giggling like it was old times! So, what’s the difference?  Why yoga?

First of all, yoga is a lifestyle not a quick fix like a bucket of ice cream.  You want to integrate certain aspects of yoga regularly, like drinking a glass of water, eating or making sure you get enough sleep. Meditation and Pranayama are aspects of yoga we can integrate daily and won’t tax the body like doing too much asana can.

So, put down the yoga magazine, the Instagram photos and DVDs you have of yoga being all about twisting your body into a pretzel and performing postures that look like cirque du soleil acts. Time to shift your perspective.  Keep it simple. Yoga is body, mind and heart integration and reconnection whether you go fancy with your postures or not.

The benefits of yoga are numerous. It lowers blood pressure, lowers blood sugar, reduces bodily aches and pains, increases joint mobility, strengthens muscles, improves balance, increases positive mood, increases focus and reduces stress and tension to name a few. With this scientific knowledge being readily available to you on the world wide web, why you should do yoga is obvious.

Finding your personal deep heartfelt desire to motivate yourself to do yoga is another issue!  Hook your heart! Find a way to connect your heart(emotions) to why you should practice and the motivation will find its way into your life.  Make it personal not just logical.

Which takes us to, What are you personally looking to attain? Are you stressed? Injured?  Stiff? Need a life change?  What are your goals from the numerous benefits yoga can provide? You don’t have to know them all now. But start with at least one to get you in the door and keep you there.

And lower your expectations. Yoga is not a ” Get six pack abs in six days” DVD.  That’s delusional. ( So is the promise of the DVD.) Odds are it took you many years to get you to a place where you are looking to feel better or even consider doing yoga!   It’s going to take a little bit to get you to feel back on track again.  Be patient!

Finally, find the right class or teacher for your needs. With all the information online today, once you’ve gotten clear on the above questions do some research!  There are so many classes, styles and teachers to choose from on the web, in your home town or when traveling abroad.  Find a class and teacher who can suit your current needs and goals, safely.  Ask questions if you don’t know!

Remember, your yoga class and teacher should be helping you feel empowered not solely reliant or co-dependent upon them or the class to help you feel better.

Yoga is about becoming mindful and present in yourself through the use of asana ( physical postures), meditation and pranayama. This is what enables you to feel better.  Yoga is not about finding your guru, burning incense, wearing environmentally friendly clothing, swearing off eating anything with a face and attending over priced yoga festivals.( But you can if you want to!)

Remember, you are going to have to retrain the body and the mind, and that needs repetition of action as well as a letting go of behavior patterns(actions) that lead you to the place you are now. It’s how you practice your yoga not just doing yoga that matters. After all, not being mindful with the signs your body, heart and mind were trying to tell you for some time is what probably got you out of balance in the first place.

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