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Yoga - Not just a twisty form of exercise - So much more..........

Updated on October 16, 2012

As our yoga class concluded, our yoga teacher invited us to lay on our backs and relax in Shavasana, or the Corpse Pose, which as you can imagine is a very relaxed way of saying, “Lie on your back and relax.” After about 10 minutes, I got restless and began to question how this was helping or how much longer this would last. After class, I had to admit that I felt unusually relaxed and vibrant at the same time. I vowed to continue to go to class.

Fast forward 25 years later. I stayed with my yoga practice for several years off and on because, back then, yoga was trending up for the “cool” young corporate geeks, of which I was. I lost interest eventually and now 25 years later have re-emerged into the yoga scene for much different reasons that I did the first time. I re-started taking some yoga classes because initially I was looking for a form of exercise that I could progress in and that I actually enjoyed, as opposed to going to the gym or running, both of which I have tried several times, but loathed.

I immediately enjoyed it, but recognized that perhaps this was not enough to get me in shape (no grueling cardio!) But now I am beginning to change my mind about that too as learn more about the cardiovascular benefits of yoga. I think I might have found a perfect match for me.

About 15 years ago, I began to take a deep interest in contemporary religion and spirituality. You may have noticed that there are many new spiritual and “New Thought” authors and teachers out there that are praising a new type of spirituality that is based in expanded consciousness, oneness with the universe, and overcoming limitation of the physical world. But one important thing I learned is that the newest and most exciting principles that are resonating with hungry spiritual seekers today, are not really new at all, but come from many great ancient traditions, including, but not limited to, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Yoga.

Yoga, as a philosophy, incorporates practices (both mind and body) to facilitate a union of mind, body, and spirit. The yoga poses (asanas), are an invitation to explore the connections of mind and spirit, by using the breath (prana) as our guide. Yoga, as a philosophy is the type of ancient teaching that takes a true dedication and commitment to study (aka it can be very complicated). However, one purpose of the yoga practice via the yoga poses and breathing is to bring to realization some of the most sublime awakenings of mind, body and spirit into consciousness. The yoga student is encouraged to focus on the breathing, poses, and relaxation techniques as a precursor to deeper understanding. If you have practiced yoga as an exercise program, you may have experienced a mini-version of these deeper awakenings quite circumstantially.

The continued practice of yoga is an opportunity to explore your inner depths and feelings by allowing the poses and the breath to point to specific blockages or constraints you might have, and to connect to a deeper element of your being. During a yoga class, a student wanting to go a little deeper into their yoga experience may wish to experiment with the breath to open areas of the body that represent specific emotional blockages. A particularly stressed area of the body can be examined with yogic practices to help release and relax the body with the residual benefit potentially being a fresh insight on what may be causing the stress in the first place.

Through the practice of yoga we learn control, release, and acceptance, which even though taught using the body, when expanded upon in your practice, include the mind and the spirit. Yoga is a multi-layered philosophy of which I cannot even begin to do justice to in this one article, but I will offer one concept that if you are a current student of yoga may be helpful to you. The concept is of thinking about your body like a system of main pipes with a series of aqueducts coming off of it. The main pipeline runs from the top of your head to the base of your spine, with aqueducts shooting off to supply energy to your arms and legs. While you are practicing your yoga poses with breathing, consider this pipeline and expand your breathing practices during your poses to reach to the entire pipeline. When this expanded breathing is practiced over time, then you will quickly discern the blockages and the restrictions in your mind, which is reflected in your body.

Finally, we end our yoga class again with Shavasana, the relaxing pose of quiet yoga contemplation. Many yoga teachers will suggest you use this time to honor the self for your dedication to your practice, and this is a good idea. But I like to close my yoga class with a Shavasana that invites newness and wisdom into my life, both with my yoga practice and through life experience. I have to tell you, this stuff works! Try a class. Yoga for purely physical benefits and exercise is highly beneficial and almost everyone, no matter what physical condition you are in now, can do it. The health benefits are too many to mention here, so that alone is enough, but if you want to go deeper, to explore your spiritual dimensions and learn a philosophy and discipline that can facilitate spiritual and individual growth, then yoga is an exceptional choice.

If you would like to learn more about yoga principles and philosophies, let me know with your comments and I will expand on it with additional Hubs. Yoga is not only fascinating historically, but the intricacies and logic of the philosophy are enlightening, energizing, and can be deeply spiritual.

Namaste

Joleen (Bridges) Halloran is the author ofFinding Home - Breaking Free from Limits. This book represents over 10 years of research and inspiration in the topics of personal and spiritual empowerment and provides readers with a pathway to overcome limits and discover authentic divine qualities in their lives and to live a life of unlimited freedom. .

Beyond Joleen's professional life, she is an avid reader and researcher of books related to her special passion, which is metaphysical and spirituality topics. You can find out more about Joleen's book at her books website,www.breakingfreefromlimits.com. Additional articles of a spiritual and inspirational nature can be found at the book's website as well.

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