Fitness practices differ depending on individual needs and goals; you’re not going to go for deadlifts, for instance, if your intention is to build some lean tone. And you’re probably going to want to graduate from power walking if you’re aiming for a 5k marathon.
Fortunately, yoga-based fitness is for everyone. From gentle, breath- and slow movement-focused yoga to intense “hot” yoga, literally every person can find their groove in this fitness medium, reap substantial benefits, and inspire inner growth. All it takes is commitment, strong intention, and an open heart.
So, how can yoga nurture your personal and spiritual growth?
What does balance really mean? In essence, it means finding harmony in your mind, body, and soul. In turn, inner balance can manifest into physical benefits, such as easier breaths, restful sleeps, and overall fulfillment.
Delving into a yoga-based fitness practice can also alter the more obvious balancing acts, such as work and play, home and office, partnership and individual. When you have peace in your practice, it’s easier to bring shimmers of it to all facets of your life! Funny how intangible balance can be found through literal balancing poses in this practice, no?
Speaking of peace, let’s talk stress. We often hear that yoga reduces stress, which is a no-brainer, but how does this play out on a physical level?
We pretty much can’t mention stress without mentioning the “c” word...cortisol. Aka, the “stress hormone.” (Cortisol also contributes to many other serious physical issues, such as heart disease and high cholesterol.)
A little stress here and there is one thing, but staying in a highly-alert state can lead to major repercussions on the body and mind. Practicing yoga can help decrease cortisol levels, steady the heart rate, and even out the breaths - all keys to alleviating stress! It’s a good idea to incorporate deeply relaxing asanas into your fitness habit to expedite the process. Fortunately, there are many pranayama practices to choose from!
The old adage “prevention is the best medicine” tends to ring true. Even if you’re perfectly fit, healthy, and happy, there’s always room for preventative tools to improve your quality of life in your later years.
To put this into finer context, think about the popular “take ten deep breaths” method to calming anger, or counting to five before answering someone when you’re riled up. Then, imagine naturally breathing, thinking, and feeling calm; allowing this state of being to serve as a healthy foundation for every reaction, sensation to grow from. The same goes for the body, allowing it to reach a state of vitality that will allow all things good to flourish.
One of the greatest gifts that you can give yourself is the shining bow that is self-discipline. Once you find it, it’s hard to go back to apathy and lethargy! A focused, determined mind is a powerful tool.
Whether you’re aiming for a healthier diet or a more consistent practice, you can’t go wrong with setting a strong intention to improve your state of mind, body, being. (So long as, of course, your goals are reasonable and full of genuine self-love.) Yoga instills this discipline by default, encouraging us to stick with it and revel in our accomplishments. Channel that inner Rocky Balboa and bound up those proverbial stairs.
Although it’s perfectly acceptable to practice yoga alone, practicing with a group can help accelerate your growth tenfold. People that see each other regularly and exercise together tend to follow through on their fitness commitments more readily. Call it accountability, call it FOMO (fear of missing out); whatever the case, group sessions seem to be the natural inclination for most.
If you’re the type who likes to keep to yourself, opt to practice in a group one time for every five private sessions. Your heart and soul will thank you! And you just may find that the more you “force” yourself to do this, it becomes less of a dread and more of an enjoyment.
Supportive friends and family are great, but a strong support system starts from within. It’s a promise from the self to the self, and a great gesture of unconditional love.
Allowing your practice to support you in everything that you do outlines your clear intentions for self-growth. Carry it with you regardless of place and time - standing in line, getting ready for bed, washing the car - any daily task can be enhanced when you follow the basic elements of yoga: ie, staying present in the moment, holding space for your experience, feeling grounded, and flowing with the tides. Once you show your practice some faith and commitment, it’ll support you all the more!
What is life without inspiration? Inspiration is like a heaping dose of encouragement, fueling willpower and injecting everything we touch with an immense amount of energy and intention.
You may find that some of your deepest, most insightful thoughts come up during your yoga sessions. This is not unusual, as yoga helps us declutter the mind and make room for honest expression. In addition, engaging in this fitness practice can help you find more acceptance and inspiration surrounding your body image as a whole.
Yoga-based fitness offer us so much room to grow; once we adopt it as a healthy, long-term facet of our lives, we encourage and support every part of ourselves to flourish.