In 2017, we are busier than ever. Our days are often a stress-filled balancing act as we attempt to juggle friends, families, jobs, workouts and appointments, often to the detriment of our own wellness needs.
Yoga can counteract stress and provides a considerable range of health benefits. We at Kula Athletic have a deep love of yoga practice, which is why we’ve decided to share it with you for our second blog post, 'What is yoga?'.
Yoga began in Northern India around 5,000 years ago, where it was first developed as an ancient spiritual practice by the Indus-Sarasvati people. Throughout the following centuries, yoga was subjected to a number of evolving ideas and techniques, however, at its core remained the belief that personal ego could be sacrificed through self-knowledge, action and wisdom. The practice gradually spread beyond India during the 1900s, when yoga masters began travelling to countries like America to impart their teachings upon the rest of the world.
In Australia, it continues to grow in popularity and was the fastest growing fitness activity between 2008 and 2016 where participation doubled (1). Through regular practice, yoga's physical benefits include improved balance, posture and increased muscle strength and flexibility.
Often however, those who are unfamiliar with the practice tend to perceive it as a purely physical exercise, yet the fundamentals of yoga encompass something far more profound. The word yoga itself means ‘union with the divine’. It recognises that humans are multi-dimensional creatures comprised of mind, body and spirit, and seeks to nurture each of these elements through meditation, breathing exercises and bodily postures. As a discipline, yoga is designed to bring about a greater sense of clarity, self-awareness and peace within the individual.
These factors can help lead to increased mindfulness, that is, an awareness of ‘being in the present moment’. By training ourselves to become more mindful through yoga, we can begin to pay attention to ourselves in a more meaningful way. Meditation is an integral part of the practice, helping to calm and centre us. The coordination of breath and movement helps to clear the mind and slows down our thoughts, something which can be difficult to achieve during the fast pace of everyday life. Increased mindfulness helps to regulate emotions, improve focus and lower stress, allowing us to forge a deeper connection to ourselves and the world around us.
This ancient method of achieving better health and wellbeing has never been more relevant than it is today. So with that in mind, its time to get stretching!
(1) ‘Strike a pose: Yoga is the fastest growing fitness activity’, Roy Morgan Research, 13 October 2016