More and more people turn to yoga for various reasons, having different needs. As they get into it, they realize that yoga truly is an inexhaustible and ageless source of wisdom and a tried-and-true method to live well and stay healthy.
My yoga journey started over 10 years ago as I moved from Ukraine to Canada. I was 15 and struggling with many problems. Here's a list of the three most important ones and how yoga helped me to solve them.
1. Preventing And Treating Back Pain
I was diagnosed with scoliosis and according to the doctor, I was already too old to hope for a "happy ending." However, I could still stop the lateral curvature in my back from progressing, and seriously damaging my body and causing me pain. I was told that if this was left untreated, it could pose a danger to my life. This is when my parents suggested I start doing yoga.
With yoga, I strengthened the muscles of my back and prevented further deformation. Although my back will never be 100% straight, as opposed to other people with the same problem, I have absolutely no pain in my back ever since yoga became a part of my life.
2. Boosting The Immune System
Growing up in post-Chernobyl Ukraine, a lot of kids of my generation were diagnosed with immunodeficiency. As a child and into the early teen age, I was extremely sickly - getting at least three varieties of a flu each winter, skin rashes in the summer, and all kinds of stomachaches all year round. A few years after I seriously got into yoga, most of the maladies disappeared and never returned. Besides the general boost to the immune system that yoga gave me, thanks to yoga I also really learned how to listen to my body and take better care of it.
3. Learning More About The Self
Since I was a child I was always very interested in human nature. This is why I loved reading books, especially fiction classics and books on psychology and philosophy. As a teen I often wondered:
- Who am I?
- Why am I here?
- What is the meaning of it all?
As adults we seldom waste our time on such silly questions, convinced that the answers are obvious: "I'm so and so, living here, working there, I like this and I own that, etc." Very rarely do we stop and think about who we truly are, what guides us, what our fears are, what our subconscious triggers are, what gives us meaning, and what is really important to us in life.
What I Learned
In our commercial culture we're bombarded with artificial versions of what reality is supposed to be, of what success and happiness mean. These versions too often involve too much emphasis on the material things and superficial ideas. The past 10 years of yoga taught me a lot about myself, about human nature, and life in general.
Yoga does not give you ready-made solutions to your problems, be they of physiological or psychological matter. What yoga does, however, is it provides you with a system of physical and mental attitudes to target these problems, so you can learn the best solutions that work for your body and for your mind as you progress in life.
Sure I don't have all of the answers and solutions myself, and I keep making mistakes and running after wrong ideas and fake versions of reality just like any other person. But at least what is different now is that I am more conscious of this marathon, and more aware of the people who run along.