Do You Know What the REAL Benefits of Yoga Are (Hint: stretching is only beginning)?

yoga blog post

Hi there, Relief, Confidence, Calm, and Strength-Seekers. Today, we’ve going to challenge some conventional ideas and clear up what yoga is -and is not. That way, you can leverage your approach to poses and reap benefits of yoga to do so much more than just stretch you out. 

You can pick up just about any magazine or scroll through your socials and find scads of lean ladies wearing trendy yoga pants, doing artistic doing yoga poses, and even “yoga accessories” (often culturally appropriated) to purchase for your “practice.”

Don’t get me wrong–I really enjoy my yoga movement practice. I like to flow through several down dogs, forward folds, backward bends, and side-angle poses each week.  Those movements feel GOOD on my body and deliver a set of both calmness and empowerment that I look forward to. There is even a host of physical benefits of the asana, or movement practice (another topic for another day).

But the deeper benefits of yoga begin AFTER all the stretching and bending. The asanas are only ONE of eight yogic limbs that teach us how to live a calm, compassionate, joyful life and to thoroughly accept and even enjoy the present moment, no matter our current circumstances.

Benefit #1: Yoga helps you meditate.

Around 5 thousand years ago, the ancient yogis discovered that if they moved, stretched, and strengthened their bodies first, they could sit in stillness and meditate for longer periods.And the longer they meditated, the more enlightened and content they often became. What an amazing discovery!

Even in ancient times, it was hard to allow enlightenment (read: confidence, peace, wisdom, knowing, self-compassion, selflessness) to find you when your hip cramped up or your spine complained after too long in the same position. Who hasn’t experienced this in a seated meditation?

The asana limb of yoga helped prepare a yogi’s stamina and strength for longer-lasting meditation periods. And it can still help YOU today!

Benefit #2: Yoga gets you out of your head.

Another benefit of moving before meditation is that movement helps guide our focus inward. Our “monkey minds” are an inextricable piece of our human experience, but movement can help to calm the mental “noise” we often encounter when we first begin to meditate. 

Because our culture is highly success and achievement based, we tend to take up residence in our heads and not in our bodies. For example, we might be working so hard to make a deadline, that we don’t even notice a sore throat starting or the beginning of a pain in our back.

When we start to move in our yoga practice, something amazing happens. We notice our breath, we align our body in various shapes which require our attention to our body – THIS is what brings us out of our heads!  We can work out our thoughts and surface emotions in our movement practice as a way to clear the field for the deeper emotional healing, symptom relief, and wisdom that can come with meditation.

Benefit #3: Yoga helps us become aware of our breathing.

Finally, movement also helps us to amplify awareness of our breathing, which is also a key component in meditation.

Once we become aware of how our breath aligns with and fuels our movement, it’s easier to maintain focus on our breathing when still in meditation. When we have a solid breathing foundation, it’s easier to develop our inward focus and be less distracted by our thoughts.

Tip for Maximizing the Benefits: End a Session with 5 Meditative Minutes.

In my early years of practicing yoga, the final rest pose, savasana, was absolutely the most difficult pose of the entire practice. While I still think it is challenging, I also recognize it is the most valuable pose.  You’ve done all the hard work, you can be grateful for showing up and sticking with it, and you’ve sent yourself a powerful message that you are worth it. During savasana, it’s time to integrate these ideas, feelings, and beliefs.

Instead of immediately, try finding a comfortable sitting position and SIT–in stillness and breathe for even 5 extra minutes. Let the movements you completed do their work in your brain and see what happens.

Next time you come to the mat, following a guided practice, or attend a yoga class, begin expanding your practice by extending your quiet time on the mat. Or, if you feel ready for guidance in this endeavor, I invite you to join our FREE 21 day commitment of movement and meditation to get started experiencing the amazing benefits of this combination.

Perhaps the sometimes strenuous asana practices are not your thing, and that’s fine.  I have also created a playlist of very gentle movement practices followed by meditation.  There is something for everyone.

Let me know in the comments below how you have benefited from movement and meditation together.

Take care,

–Sara


Additional RESOURCES:

Online Courses and 1:1 Sessions:

Members Oasis

The Members Oasis provides unlimited access to all Mindful Movement Meditations and Hypnosis Practices with NO Ads; Exclusive Members Only Content added EVERY month. 

Recordings

You can now purchase your favorite Meditation and Hypnosis practices from the Mindful Movement. You can download an MP3 file to listen to anytime, anywhere with no internet access necessary.

Fitness Channel

We’ve launched a second YouTube channel, The Mindful Movement IN MOTION. Be sure to subscribe for weekly movement practices!

Favorite Playlists:

 

🙏 The Mindful Movement is happy to provide these meditations, podcasts, and videos free of charge. We don’t ask for anything in return but if you wish to make a donation, please know that whatever you offer will be received with much gratitude.

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About the author, Sara

Sara is the founder of The Mindful Movement and the owner of Coreworks Fitness, a Pilates and Yoga studio in MD. Sara is also a Pilates and CoreAligh Master instructor with Balanced Body.

Sara is passionate about helping others grow and live mindful, fulfilled lives. She helps others move better, feel better, live with a deep awareness, gratitude and their whole heart. She strives to inspire others to live authentically and passionately in love and abundance.

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7-Day Meditation Course with The Mindful Movement

“The past is gone, the future is not yet here.  If we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Whether this is your first time practicing meditation, or you have joined the journey with me to deepen or reignite your practice, I am grateful you are here now.

Know that this journey inward may not always be easy, but it can offer profound benefits when practiced regularly. And like any other skill, it takes practice and patience to experience progress.

Start, Deepen, or Re-ignite Your Meditation Practice With This FREE 7 Day Foundations of Meditation and Mindfulness Course

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7-Day Meditation Course with
The Mindful Movement

“The past is gone, the future is not yet here.  If we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Whether this is your first time practicing meditation, or you have joined the journey with me to deepen or reignite your practice, I am grateful you are here now.

Know that this journey inward may not always be easy, but it can offer profound benefits when practiced regularly. And like any other skill, it takes practice and patience to experience progress.

Start, Deepen, or Re-ignite Your Meditation Practice With This FREE 7-Day Foundations of Meditation and Mindfulness Course