Yoga is the science of life. It is thousands of years old, and with regular practice, yoga can bring you back into balance physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
What does this mean?
It means that no matter what issue you are dealing with in your life, yoga can help you manage it.
And increasingly around the world, the scientific and medical world is doing the research to back this up.
Spend some time digging around on the ‘Net, and you’ll uncover more and more studies, more research, more anecdotal evidence… there is no doubt that yoga works.
So what does this mean?
It means that if you are experiencing any type of ill-health – whether mental, physical, emotional or even spiritual, AND you’re serious about taking responsibility for your own healing, then regular yoga practice will make a very real difference in your life.
So if yoga is such an amazing thing to do for your health, why isn’t everybody doing yoga?
Yoga will make the biggest difference in somebody’s life when they want to change, when they want to heal. As the saying goes:
“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.”
Of course, it’s much more difficult to practice yoga regularly than it is to take a pill, or have surgery. And yoga is not a cure – it won’t suddenly make you magically well. Often it works best in combination with the right medication and the right surgery and the right diet and the right lifestyle. If you’re already working with a health professional, you want to talk to them about adding yoga to your health routine – not ditching everything else in favour of yoga.
My passion for yoga is partly because of the massive difference it’s made to my health, physically, mentally and emotionally. But it’s taken time, and it’s taken persistence, and it’s taken hard work. This is the choice I make because I value my health – it is one of the priorities in my life. Health leads to happiness in my experience, and with only one body to make it through this lifetime, I want to experience optimum health where I can.
I don’t need all these studies to know what a difference yoga has made to the quality of my life. But many people aren’t willing to give something a go unless it’s been properly proven – why waste the time?
Hence this article, with all the proof required. Hopefully when people google yoga health benefits they’ll end up here and find all the information they need to convince them that it’s time to give yoga a go.
Yet I know that despite the fact that yoga works, and despite the fact that many people are suffering from all kinds of mental, emotional and physical issues, not everyone is going to suddenly start doing yoga, even when they KNOW it would transform their lives.
Why is this?
Why do we NOT do the very thing that will help us?
It comes down to one small little four letter word.
When people know that yoga will help them but they choose not to practice they are living in fear.
Afraid to change.
Afraid to do something new.
Afraid of what other people might say.
Afraid of how yoga might make them feel.
I see this all the time when I talk to people. They talk about their bad back, or their bung knee, or their sleep problems, or their anxiety… I listen and I wait. I know I have an answer for them, but there is no point in telling them that answer unless they are actively looking for it.
And most people aren’t. They are so stuck in the experience that they are having, talking about it, complaining about it, whinging about it… that they are not actually looking for a solution, they are just looking to be listened to.
That’s ok. I can listen. Even while on the inside a part of me is screaming, “Yoga! You need yoga! If you want to change the experience you’re having, do yoga!”
Because I know that I can’t make you want to transform your life. I can’t make you not afraid. That’s a choice you have to make. It’s a choice I have to respect.
So when you tell me about your pain and misery, yet aren’t looking for a solution… all I can do is listen. (Except on my website – on my website, I can rant and rave all I like about yoga because it’s my site and that’s what it’s for.)
In a very real way, my desire to relieve your suffering and misery by letting you know that yoga can make a difference in your life is entirely selfish.
It’s selfish because I want to experience you as healthy and joyful and happy because when you are all of those things, it multiples the amount of health and joy and happiness I experience.
If the person does offer an opening for me to make a suggestion and I mention yoga, immediately the list of reasons why it’s not possible to do yoga come up. And it can be a big list.
There’s the “I’ve got no time” reason. Well you know what? Turn off the TV, get up earlier, use your lunch hour… it only takes twenty minutes a day, three times a week for yoga to start making a real difference in your life. Don’t tell me you don’t have time, it’s just an excuse. There is ALWAYS time in our lives for the things we make a priority.
No money? It just takes one book, or one DVD, or finding one Koha class, or accessing any of the free online classes available. Or even finding a yoga teacher and working out some kind of trade with him or her. I don’t care how damn poor you are, if you really wanted to do yoga, you would find someone willing to teach you. If someone turned up on my doorstep and told me they couldn’t pay me but wanted to learn yoga, what do you think I would say? Would I send them packing and tell them not to come back until they’d found some cash. Hell no! I’d admire their chuputz and I would teach them!
No desire? Hmmm…. this could be it. But if yoga can help you live a healthier, happier, more joyful life… then surely when you say you don’t “want” to do yoga, you are also saying that you don’t “want” to be healthy, happy and joyful? And maybe that’s true.
Maybe that’s what it’s all about.
Maybe on this here planet, not all of us want to experience certain things, even when those things are as amazing as health, joy and happiness.
Maye some of us enjoy being in pain, enjoy being in misery, enjoy whinging and moaning and telling our story to anyone who will listen. After all, transform yourself and heal the pain… what are you going to talk about?
Oh, one more reason I hear sometimes.
Yoga’s just not me. What a load of bollacks. Whaddya mean, yoga’s just not you? What does that mean? I’ll tell you what it means. It means that you don’t think you are the type of person who does yoga and you know you’ll feel uncomfortable and out of place when you go into a class and you don’t want to feel that way.
It means you’ve got a rigid idea of your identity in your head and you’re holding on to that because it makes you feel comfortable. Well comfort is overrated. Comfort is like the frog in the pot of cold water sitting on an element who doesn’t jump out as the water slowly heats because he’s comfortable and the slow increase in temperature doesn’t alarm him until he’s cooked. Literally. That’s comfort. Comfort is overrated. Comfort kills.
So… my challenge to you here is… if you’ve been thinking about doing yoga but something is holding you back… or you’ve done a bit here and there and not yet developed a regular practice, ask yourself:
What’s holding me back from practicing yoga?
And when the first answer floats up…
Ask again… and again.. and again. Going deeper and deeper and deeper into yourself to see what the root core reason is that you are not practicing yoga.
- Why aren’t I practicing yoga? I don’t have time.
- Why don’t I make time for yoga? I’m not ready to do it
- Why aren’t I ready to do yoga? I’m afraid of how it might change me
- Why am I afraid of how yoga might change me?
- And so on…
See if you can get to the root of why you’re not practicing yoga, even when you know it would improve the quality of your life. Is it fear? Is that what lies beneath?
‘Cos if there ever was a time to get into yoga, a time to transform your life, a time to heal body, mind and spirit, NOW is that time.
Oh, and that pose I’m doing above? It’s a Kundalini pose designed to clear out the root chakra, in particular removing fears. So if it is fear that you uncover at the root of your reasons for not practicing yoga… maybe that’s where you need to start. You can find the full instructions at Anmol Mehta’s excellent site in this article – “Root Chakra Cleansing via Kundalini Yoga Crow Pose”
I’ve been doing it for awhile now, it’s become one of my favourites. I can state too, that there is something about this pose that makes me feel strong, and powerful and… fearless.
Yoga will change your life.
Are you ready?
(By the way, I took my first yoga class in 1995, and knew then yoga was something I had to do, but I didn’t go back again until 1999. Even then, I was still too frightened, and I left halfway through a class, not returning for another year… It wasn’t until 2004 that I began to practice 5 times a week or so. So I know, I’ve been there…When you know you need to do yoga, and you keep holding off… you’re only delying the inevitable – the inevitable health, joy and happiness that will result when you finally commit to regular practice.)
And if you’re the type of person that requires scientific evidence – here are a list of studies and articles that provide proof of yoga’s ability to transform your life, healing body, mind and spirit.
- An article by Sarah Avery detailing studies being down around the States that show yoga benefits everything from people dealing with cancer, women dealing with menopause to people with irritable bowel syndrome
- This is just one study being carried out by Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Sansthana(VYASA), a non-profit organisation engaged in scientific research of the effects of yoga, and partnered with a number of universities and medical facilities around the world
- In summary, this study states that:
“Results revealed significant increases in Grip strength, Dexterity, Confidence, Self-sufficiency, Mental Health, Creativity, Concentration, Memory and Intellectual abilities of students who practised yoga. Findings also revealed significant reduction in Neurotic Tendency, General anxiety, Physiological anxiety and Sleep disturbance in the Yoga group.
The results suggest that regular practice of yoga techniques had a beneficial effect on the development of personality on the physical, mental, emotional and intellectual levels of students of the experimental groups compared to the control groups. In conclusion, going by the results of the present study, yoga techniques may prove to be an effective means for producing positive personality growth in adolescent students.”
- An article about how yoga, as an add-on therapy to surgery and medicines can reduce the frequency of seizures or attacks among patients suffering from refractory epilepsy.
- Long-time yogi John Schumacher goes for physiological testing to find out just how fit yoga has made him.
- Another Yoga Journal article that details some of the research findings beginning to come in demonstrating yoga’s positive effects on a wide range of injuries and illnesses.
- The article makes the very interesting point that:
“There’s a lot of research being done, but not in the United States,” says Emmanuel Brandeis, M.D., the founder of Yoga Nemo in West Hollywood, California, and a board-certified gynecologist. “The research is mostly being done in India, and the studies are being published in noted journals with a lot of credibility.”
Brandeis believes that it comes down to money in the United States; funding for research tends to go into ventures more likely to result in big profits. “Compared to a drug which can be prescribed and sold worldwide, yoga just doesn’t make money.”
- An accredited list of health benefits including references to the studies
- An exhaustive list of a hundred or so medical studies that have been conducted into the benefits of yoga
- This site lists a wealth of studies being done which show the positive effects of yoga.