Melissa Zelaya is a Honduran yogi who, after a career working in London’s nightlife, discovered yoga in 2014 and dedicates her time to helping others to find inner strength through their yoga mats.
“The purpose of yoga is to create strength, awareness, and harmony in both the mind and body. Yoga is a powerful practice that enhances your mind-body integration. Through conscious breathing, movement, and attention to the physical postures, you cultivate a state of body-centered restful awareness. You listen to the signals your body is sending to you in the present moment and you expand the energy in your body through your attention and intention.
- Increased flexibility, increased muscle strength, and tone, protects your spine, m proves respiration, energy and vitality (When you regularly get your heart rate into the aerobic range, you lower your risk of heart attack and can relieve depression.)
- Maintaining a balanced metabolism
- Weight reduction.
- Cardio and circulatory health.
- Protection from injury.
- Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia.
- Boosts your immune system functionality.
- Asana and pranayama probably improve immune function, but, so far, meditation has the strongest scientific support in this area.
Aside from the physical benefits, one of the best benefits of yoga is how it helps a person manage stress, which is known to have devastating effects on the body and mind. Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, alcohol and drug abuse, and an inability to concentrate….
Yoga’s incorporation of meditation and breathing can help improve a person’s mental state including:
- Reduces stress levels of cortisol and adrenaline.
- Increases the body’s relaxation response and mental clarity.
- Improves self-confidence, self-discipline, and self-awareness
- Improves concentration and focus
- Enhances mood and feelings of contentment.
- Reduces Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
The Spiritual Benefits of a Yoga Practice
Yoga forms a strong sense of spiritual well-being, creating a sense of being aligned with one’s inner consciousness. It also:
- Develops a sense of peace and ability to manage difficult situations.
- Increases ability to manifest positive experiences in day-to-day life.
- Discovery or connection with one’s sense of purpose.
- Leads to a greater sense of connectedness to others and the universe
- Encourage a deeper sense of calm, gratitude and appreciation.
- Helps you serve others (the essence of hospitality)
- Karma yoga (service to others) is integral to yogic philosophy. And while you may not be inclined to serve others, your health might improve if you do.
“I’d do yoga, but I’m just not flexible at all.” This is the #1 excuse given by people who are disinclined to try yoga. As a yoga teacher, I also get the following a lot: “Oh, you must be really flexible.”
Here’s the thing, our bodies are crazy, amazing, complex machines with a million moving parts that all have to work together pretty perfectly just to get us through our day. However, unlike inorganic machines, our bodies are also subject to certain constraints imposed upon us by our genes.
Flexibility, or the capacity of muscles and connective tissue to stretch around joints and bones, is largely a genetic question. How long are your bones? How large are your joints, and what shape are they; what is their directional orientation? How much elastin is in your muscles and ligaments?
The answers to these questions will largely govern how your body responds to your enthusiastic attempts to touch your toes…
What makes yoga such an incredible physical workout is the aim to achieve the perfect balance of flexibility, strength, and patience. Flexible people need to work on strength so they don’t overextend and injure themselves. Strong people need to work on flexibility so they don’t muscle into poses and pull something.
Everyone has to work on the most vital ingredient: patience. The physical “point” of yoga isn’t to achieve flexibility. It’s to appropriately balance flexibility and strength in each of the poses, all while staying patient enough to let your practice develop over years (yes, years). So don’t beat yourself up if you feel like you’re not “good” at yoga right away. Yoga unfolds in the way that is right for you.