Your body accommodates the position it holds most
Your body is designed for movement but you probably spend your day in a few similar positions, curved over a computer, driving a car, sitting at a table. Your body tries to accommodate the position you hold most: to save energy the body builds tissues in that area to assist you in holding this position.
Does a stiff neck or tightness across the upper back sound familiar? Think about the position you hold most often during the day & how much you vary & counteract it.
In yoga, you open up the front of the body & reverse the common positions you hold all day. Yoga works the muscles & tissues of the body in all directions to stretch & strengthen, letting the body benefit from the full range of motion it is designed to achieve.
Move like a Kid
As a kid you probably had a different experience of your body than you do today. Kids don't sit still, they are constantly changing position, moving, making themselves more comfortable. Kids don't care what they look like, only how it feels to stretch & do what they need to do to make their body feel good.
Get back to your natural instinct to move & do what your body needs
Yoga benefits you by getting you moving & using your body in the way it was designed. Everyone's body is different: we look different on the outside & we are very different from each other on the inside. Your experience of yoga with your unique body will be different too.
It's is never about how it looks externally; yoga is about what you feel inside & the subtle changes you experience in your body
It doesn't take much to be able feel the benefits of yoga. You don't have to be flexible, you don't need to be fit, if you move a little or a lot you will still get the benefits from just moving & breathing & focusing on yourself.
You don't have a body, you are a body & you were made for movement
With yoga we reverse the common positions we put the body into e.g. hunched over a computer, sitting, driving, head down on the phone.
Yoga gives you freedom of movement, lightness, opens up tight areas of the body & builds strength where you need it.
Increase Range of Motion
The tissues of the body contract for various reasons: stress, injury, illness & lack of movement. When you wake up in the morning feeling stiff & feel the need to stretch, you are stretching connective tissues which have contracted while you were sleeping.
In yoga , you move your body multi-directionally to stretch & place a temporary stress on the tissues, opening your body to allow you to regain your natural range of motion .
Yoga works against the degeneration of tissues & bones that comes with the natural aging process. By providing a healthy stress to your body in yoga you stimulate the production of new bone & rehydrate tissues that are dry & sticking together.
Using the weight of your own body in Yin yoga you passively squeeze, stretch & put yourself in traction to stimulate your body to repair itself.
You stimulate the release of energy by stretching, compressing & twisting the tissues & muscles, allowing blood, fluids & energy to flow more freely throughout your body.
The body affects the mind & the mind affects the body, nothing is in isolation
Yoga gives you a chance to rest your head from the daily demands of your life & create space in your mind to focus.
Slow, controlled, deep breathing allows your autonomic nervous system to transition away from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic.
The sympathetic nervous system, our fight or flight response, activates the release of stress hormones such as adrenaline & cortisol.
The parasympathetic nervous system, our rest & digest response, reduces the heart rate & blood pressure, allowing the mind to calm & reduce stress levels.
Learning to observe your body, breath & thoughts without judgment, you gain an insight into your beliefs, patterns & awareness of yourself. Yoga teaches you to self-explore & go inside, leaving behind your identity for an hour or two to be with yourself.
Stop distracting yourself
There are so many things we can use to distract ourselves & ensure that we never have to spend time with ourselves, our own thoughts, our own feelings. When everything else is stripped away, your job, relationships & responsibilities & you are left only with breath & movement, you have a chance to find some quiet calm inside yourself.
Starting with your own body, yoga helps you notice what's happening right now & exposes the monkey mind, jumping from thought to thought. Yoga brings to you to a place where you can be attentive & fully engaged. By relaxing the mind & going inside you learn to to focus on one thing at a time.