Could it be put more simply? Yoga, while being a great physical exercise and practice, is not the thing to turn to if your only motivation is weight loss. Yoga can certainly aid in weight loss, and even help define muscles, but the heart of yoga lies in the spiritual practice and adherence to the eight limbs, which advocate for non-violence, understanding, self-respect, and self-exploration. Many yogis will tell you that their true love for yoga has come not because they have mastered the asanas (postures and poses) of yoga, but because they have found samadhi, or bliss, through their continued practice.
To some people less familiar with the practice of yoga, this statement may be shocking. The physical aspect of practice has become very big in the west, often overshadowing the spiritual connection most yogis feel. Here are some of the ways yoga brings happiness to its practitioners.
1. Consistent Practice
Many yogis fall in love with the consistency that yoga provides for them in their lives. In a world where so much is unreliable, a steady practice can give people grounded energy and a sense of accomplishment. Many practitioners have a daily ritual that surrounds their practice, whether it is class first thing in the morning or class followed by tea or meditation, this reliable routine is something that many people enjoy that brings them happiness.
2. Like-Minded Friends
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a true yogi that doesn’t have a few close friends and many close acquaintances from one or more of the studios they frequent. Finding like-minded people to share practice and maybe post-class coffee with is something that many yogi’s love about their studios and yoga community. Yoga friends are forever friends.
3. A Spiritual Community
Many yoga studios offer activities beyond the physical practice of yoga, hosting kirtans, special workshops, or lectures given by meditation experts or famous yogis. This element of belonging to a studio often gives practitioners a sense of spiritual community. Many yoga enthusiasts have their own religious practice but for some people, yoga constitutes most of their spiritual life, which is why having community events related to the eight limbs f yoga often makes many yogis feel happy and at peace within a larger community.
4. Time For Self Reflection
Yoga often allows one time to self reflect in a meaningful way. During class or savasana, the ego is often less involved in the tinkering of the mind, meaning that the thought patterns that emerge are more genuine and more related to the true self. Any type of realization made during this time tends to be more deeply rooted in self-awareness. Moments like this often lead a sense of bliss that is relatively unmatched in a day to day life.
5. Self Actualization
Being able to move deeper into the physical practice of yoga, and seeing the progress made with the asanas, often leads people to feeling more powerful, and more in control of their lives. Yoga shows us that committing to something will always pay off, no matter how long it takes. Realizing this in your practice often leads to a stronger belief in self-actualization in all areas of life, making people feel less chaotic and more centered.
6. Learning to Love Yourself
Yoga teaches self-love above anything else. The longer someone sticks to their practice the more body issues and emotional pain melt away. Yoga teaches self-trust and empowerment and in many ways lifts the veil of society’s unfair standards for both men and women in terms of physical appearance and personality traits. Finding happiness in who you are without being concerned with how you seem to others is something that brings ultimate happiness because it is a happiness that relies solely on you and is therefore only truly affected by you.
For these reasons and much more yoga is a practice that should be regarded as a lifestyle, one where working on yourself and your issues go hand in hand with working towards stronger physical postures and a stronger body and mind.