By Faye Martins
How can a yoga teacher explain wellness and its relationship to yogic methodology? When new students ask how yoga can help improve their lives, many teachers shrug and say, “It helps with everything.” While this may sound like a flip answer, the truth is that asana, meditation and pranayama can help students with virtually every aspect of their physical and mental well being.
Many students come to yoga studios looking for a place to quiet the emotional turmoil in their minds. Stress often pulls students into worrying about either the past or the future, and with a yoga instructor’s insistence that they keep their minds on the present, this trains students to reduce the amount of time spent racing towards the the future or worrying about the past. Students who suffer from depression or anxiety find that a regular yoga training session helps relieve their symptoms.
As a student begins focusing on what their minds feels at any moment, they also begin to develop the knowledge of how their body feels or moves at any particular moment. This body awareness helps in improving posture and builds self confidence for many students.
Sometimes in our more spiritual interpretations of our training, we neglect to look at the benefits yogic methodology has on a person’s physical health. Gentle stretching of the body gives a student more flexibility and a fuller range of motion in the joints. For students with chronically tight backs or hips, yoga may give them relief that no other form of therapy can compare to. Since numerous poses rely on body weight training, yoga is a gentle introduction to weight training when students find lifting weights or using gym machines distasteful.
Despite the fact that women lack the hormonal basis for “bulking up,” many fear that more vigorous weight training forms will give them too heavy of a physique. Asana gives students improved muscle strength as well as improved muscle tone. Many poses, such as Warrior III, will give students not only well developed legs and ankles, but better balance that comes in handy for improving or continuing good posture.
Pranayama is built upon control of energy flow through the breath, and by improving a student’s breathing, they can reap both physical and mental health benefits. The average person has no idea how inefficiently they breathe. Most people breathe in shallow gasps, with their rib cage and most of their body held tightly. By expanding the capacity of the lungs, and relaxing the muscles that surround the area through yoga, a student can experience much deeper, cleansing and restful breaths.
Yoga is effective for seamlessly blending a student’s physical and mental health, making it a time effective and holistic form of exercise. These benefits help create a whole being as they offer benefits for all aspects of a student’s life.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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