- Yoga is an ancient art based on a harmonizing system of development for the body, mind, and spirit. Asanas (poses) were created in the early 20th century to open and relax the body and mind for meditation. The continued practice of yoga will lead you to a sense of peace and well-being, and also a feeling of being at one with their environment. Asanas not only make the body strong and flexible, they also improve the functioning of the respiratory, circulatory, digestive, and hormonal systems. Yoga brings about emotional stability and clarity of mind; as you move through the poses you stimulate the flow of energy throughout your body.
- Yoga is not about perfecting a pose or how flexible you are. Yoga is about performing an asana (pose) to the best of your ability while maintaining steadiness and relaxation. Once you are stable in the pose, turn your attention to your breath and the feel of your body. Concentrate on that inner awareness while you connect the asana and your breath. Yoga is a practice to learn how to control your body and your breath as a precursor to controlling your mind. It’s important to respect and honor where your body is today, in this moment, and not to wish it were any different.
- It is imperative to remember that yoga is a practice. Teddy Roosevelt wisely said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” No one’s path has been carved with the same unique physical and emotional challenge as yours. We all endured a journey in getting here, and while some may find a pose more easily than others, we have no clue what heartaches and troubles they are battling. We all have baggage. We all have very specific paths.
- Have you ever become stiff or sore after a good physical workout? Muscle fatigue and soreness are direct results of shallow breathing. Keeping a steady flow of deep breaths going while you exercise will aerate the blood, helping to reduce the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles. Lowered immune system responses are also a direct result of shallow breathing. Even more hazardous to good health is mouth breathing. Nostril breathing filters impurities from the incoming air.
- Pranayama is a yoga term meaning "control of the breath." The word is two parts: prana and yama. Prana represents life force and energy, while yama represents the ability to control and lengthen that breath/energy. Bringing awareness to the patterns of your breathing is a direct bridge from your mind to your body. The most observable effect of developing awareness of the breath is that you will likely begin noticing that you breathe more often throughout the day. Worry can cause us to hold the breath. You will find that your thoughts and emotions are connected to your breath patterns.
- Cultivate patience to move forward steadily no matter how slow your progress. The benefits of hatha yoga go beyond getting stronger and more flexible, and that if you are monitoring only that realm, you may be disappointed. For any kind of beneficial results you have to be patient. The main culprit is thinking that you should be able to accomplish something without making consistent effort. That attitude has two unfortunate side effects, first it diverts your attention from the work before you to what you believe you are entitled for and second, it makes it impossible to learn and appreciate what is taking place this minute. So resolve to practice being with your experience in the present moment. Enjoy yourself no matter what, and let go of expectations.