The Benefits of Yoga with Moonlight Yoga
In today's fast-paced world, finding moments of tranquility and self-care is essential for maintaining a healthy mind and body. One practice that has gained immense popularity for its holistic approach to well-being is yoga. With its roots in ancient Indian philosophy, yoga offers a multitude of health benefits, promoting physical strength, flexibility, mental clarity and more. We got in touch with Laura, a local to Guelph, yoga instructor! Laura is the owner and operator of Moonlight Yoga, and here is what she had to say.
Health Benefits of Yoga
1. Physical Strength and Flexibility: Yoga poses (asana) help build strength,
flexibility and mobility (range of motion in joints) by engaging and stretching different muscle groups. Regular practice can improve posture, enhance balance, and increase overall body strength which can help bring more ease and less tension to everyday life.
2. Stress Reduction and Mindfulness: Yoga incorporates mindful breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation (dhyana), which can offer a calming effect for the nervous system. These tools can aid to reduce stress and improve focus to promote a mindful way of being.
3. Improved Sleep Quality: People who practice yoga often leave class feeling a sense of relaxation. Even if some practices are challenging, the emphasis on deep breathing helps to regulate the nervous system to promote calmness and clarity within moments of difficulty. In fact, the purpose of the physical practice of yoga is to ease tension in the body and mind in order to rest with more ease, making yoga an excellent practice for improving sleep quality.
4. Increased Energy and Vitality: Regular yoga practice can also boost energy levels and enhance overall vitality. The combination of physical movement paired with breath can rejuvenate the body by increasing circulation to different areas, including the brain. This is why folks may notice that they feel refreshed and renewed, whilst also grounded and calm.
5. Enhanced Mental Well-being: Yoga encourages everyone to show up as they are. Yoga does not ask anyone to change the way they look or feel to fit into a certain pose or style of class. It just asks them to notice. When we notice and connect to different aspects of the body, the breath and the mind we can begin to be with ourselves and experience the freedom that everyone deserves to feel. Yoga is not a replacement for therapy or professional medical advice, but it is a great addition on the path to soothing stress and ailments in the body and mind.
Mindfulness Tips for Practice
1. Set aside dedicated time for your practice: Designate a specific time and space for your yoga practice. You may not have an hour or even 45 minutes to practice but that’s okay! There are many classes available online made to fit your lifestyle; whether you're at home, in the office or at the cottage, you can practice anywhere. You just need enough space to move comfortably, whether that is on your mat, from your chair, or even in bed!
2. Start with gentle and beginner-friendly classes: There are so many different styles of yoga, not to mention different teachers. If you are newer to the practice you may seek out a beginner-specific or “all levels” class. If you’re practicing in a studio, seek out a teacher that you feel comfortable with, and be sure to let them know that you are new to yoga. Most yoga teachers have a website, Instagram, or other social media account that you can follow to get a sense of what they offer. Don’t hesitate to ask questions before or after class - most teachers are very happy to talk about yoga and help out! Practicing at home can be a great way to gain comfort and confidence if your goal is to attend classes in person. This online Flow Foundations series is great for beginners or anyone looking to revisit the foundations.
3. Listen to your body: Yoga is a practice of non-violence (ahimsa), kind actions and kind thoughts towards yourself and others. Even though it’s hard, try to honour your body without judgement. In group classes everyone may move at a different pace or take different options. There is no pressure to do something just because someone else is. Listening to your body can look like taking rest and breaks, or exploring further if you feel safe and ready. Ask the teacher before or after class for different options or suggestions if something doesn’t feel right.
4. Embrace breath awareness: The breath is a powerful tool in yoga. If you notice that you’re holding your breath or that it feels out of your control, this is a good sign to ease out of a posture or take a break. Focus on deep, mindful breathing during each pose, allowing the breath to guide your movements and cultivate a deeper sense of connection and presence.
5. Practice consistency, patience and have fun: Like any new endeavour, progress in yoga takes time, and is a lifelong practice. When we take what we learn on the mat, and bring this into our daily lives, we can truly enrich our community. Yoga is not about being perfect, it’s about being. Being patient and kind to yourself, and others. A consistent practice looks different for everyone and can change as we change. So set aside the pressure and expectations, take a deep breath and enjoy the journey!
(First week is FREE)