10 reasons why we all need a regular Zen Yoga prac

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Posted by Jodie Bettis (Zen Yoga Instructor) on 01 Jan 2018

Most of us spend the majority of our time thinking about the past or the future (regretting, worrying, planning). Or we are staring at screens at work, at home and on the move. Many of the benefits of zen yoga come from the ability to unplug and focus on what’s going on in your body and in your life right now.

Yoga reduces perceived stress and anxiety, which in turn reduces the physical effects of stress on the body. By encouraging relaxation, yoga helps to lower the levels of the stress hormones such as cortisol. Related benefits include lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion and boosting the immune system.

When we are less stressed we sleep better, and when we sleep better we are less stressed. Physical activity and mental relaxation fuel this virtuous cycle. A variety of studies have shown that yoga can improve sleep quality and quantity in people struggling with insomnia. Other studies have shown similar results in other groups of people, including cancer survivors and postmenopausal women.

Yoga is a full-body workout, targeting all the muscles of the body with both static holds and dynamic movement. You’re supporting your own body weight and using gravity to build functional strength where you need it. This is strength with purpose.

You may wish for more flexibility, but what’s really important is mobility. Functional flexibility makes it easier for you to complete everyday movements such as kneeling, bending or reaching. Yoga increases mobility so that you can bring more ease to your movement and don’t feel so stuck in your body.

Physical activity increases the motility and mobility of the organs and muscles, allowing them to better perform their natural processes. Deep yogic breathing enhances the function of the lungs whilst a little perspiration can ramp up the cleaning mechanism of the body, actively detoxifying your system.

We all have monkey minds, Buddha said, minds filled with dozens of monkeys all clamouring for attention. It’s useless to fight with them or to try to banish them from your thoughts — that which you resist persists. Yoga teaches you to calm your mind by focusing on your breathing so, over time, you can tame those monkeys.

Our breath and emotions are connected in a feedback loop. Yoga brings awareness and control to our breath patterns, allowing us to notice what affects our breath, and using breath to calm our emotions. The more you connect with your breath, the clearer you think.

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