Why I Practice Yoga
by Mandy Mills
Initially, I went to yoga as a way to learn how to relax, I joined a class where the focus was lots of breathing, slow postures and a wonderful teacher who glided around the room serenely. At that time, I was anything but serene. I worked in a tough marketing job, working long hours and under a lot of pressure, I rarely relaxed. I was a lot younger back then and relaxing with my friends was a night out, a few drinks and a late night and most likely a sore head in the morning!
What I hadn’t figured out in my 20’s was that in actual fact I didn’t know how to relax. It seems I am not alone, most of us actually don’t know how to relax and switch off.
First things first, I needed to be able to calm the ‘monkey mind’, that constant chatter, endless thoughts all vying for my attention, to do lists, emails, bills to pay, people to see and jobs to do. Not to mention, low self esteem, self doubt, anxiety and worry it goes on and on. It is no wonder why many of us aren’t able to switch off and wind down.
Yoga helped me to quiet my mind first, the stretching and flexibility came a good while later. Yoga wasn’t as readily available as it is today and sadly was seen as something that just ‘hippies’ did.
I enjoyed the sense of peace I felt after each class, I drove home feeling like a completely different person. It wasn’t long before the penny dropped that it was the yoga, the mindfulness, the absorption, the connection that I was feeling during class was the reason I was feeling more whole and as a result more relaxed. I learnt how to tame my monkey mind and cultivate this newly learnt skill off the yoga mat too.
Just like anything worthwhile, it takes time, practice and patience and I for one, am still work-in-progress!
This is where my regular yoga practice helps me to do just that. Yoga’s magic isn’t really all that magic at all, it’s simply to practice, regularly! By stretching and releasing tension in the physical body it helps to relax muscles, helps to build a strong body and ultimately that helps my body to feel more relaxed.
It doesn’t matter whether I practice a gentle Hatha flow or a more dynamic Vinyasa flow, I will still receive the same benefits.
I felt the benefits of yoga almost immediately and they have become long lasting and transformational. I’m stronger physically now then I was in my 20’s and a lot more flexible as well. I see the benefits of strength and flexibility have happened in my mind as well. I am constantly learning to let go of what is not important and learn to embrace what is important. I accept more now of what I can’t change and what I can change.
Another barrier to preventing deep relaxation is not breathing properly or efficiently, yoga has taught me to breathe optimally, its improved my health and wellbeing and has helped to balance out any areas of my body that are suffering with stagnation or over stimulation.
By practising yoga, I’ve learnt it is not just an exercise class, it’s about building a healthy lifestyle and a healthy relationship with myself. Just one translation of Yoga means ‘union’ and I have learnt to feel this union with my mind, with my body and my soul. Yoga brings awareness, focus, peace, clarity and has given me the tools to find the calm in the chaos of life. What I have learnt about myself on the yoga mat, I very much take off the mat and into all aspects of my life. Yoga has totally transformed my life, my body and my health, I am very passionate about sharing the benefits of yoga.
Your body and mind will become more flexible and with that your self esteem will improve and every organ in your body will be working as it should, there is no magic, its just becoming more aware and connected. Hope to see you on the mat soon xx