The Spiritual Benefits of Yoga

Yoga has come a long way from when it was first introduced in the West in the 19th century, becoming the worldwide phenomenon it is today. Although its origins are hard to find, an article by Rappler notes that yoga made its way to a broader population after Hindu teacher Swami Vivekananda developed the practice based on the Yoga Sutras, a collection of aphorisms on the structures and practice of yoga written by Patanjali. states that the word “yoga” comes from the ancient Sanskrit word “yuji”, which means to yoke or a union. This union highlights the importance of the mind-body connection in any yoga practice, referring to the surrender of one’s self to the body’s physical abilities and the present environment.

Plenty of people around the world practice yoga not only because of its physical benefits, but also because of the opportunities in spirituality it provides. Here are some ways in which yoga not only makes you stronger and fitter, but also helps you find yourself despite the hustle and bustle of your modern lifestyle.

It heals your body and your mind.

It is undeniable that scientific research has been coming out in favor of yoga and its physical health benefits, but yoga also has mental and spiritual benefits. writes yoga can help alleviate depression, anxiety, and insomnia, giving both the body and the mind space to heal. In this manner, yoga becomes a form of self-care for many of its practitioners, and allows them to focus energy on feeling physically and mentally better, improving the quality of their life.

It teaches you to be okay with stillness and surrender to the present.

Yoga reminds you to breathe through everything and connect your body, your breath, and your mind as you go through a dynamic series of postures. This inward focus on yourself, an article from Harper’s Bazaar highlights, allows you to take the time to slow down, forget distractions, make some space in your mind, and focus on self-awareness and balance. Holding yoga poses in itself is a practice in concentration, an article by the Yoga Journal posits, as when holding a pose, you focus on sensations in your muscles and joints, and must surrender to these circumstances in order to keep yourself present in the moment.

It reminds you of compassion.

What any yoga teacher would tell you is that yoga is not just practiced on a mat, or in a yoga studio —  a passion for yoga extends outside of your yoga practice and into your daily life. The Guardian mentions that yoga is a way of life that demands the awareness to be of service to others. This is rooted in the ancient practice of yoga in India, where its primary aims were to focus the mind, connect with your consciousness, discover peace, and through that, help end suffering in the world.

These aims are things that modern-day yoga teachers still hold true in order to honor the teachings and origins of the practice. In fact, you will find that yoga classes will usually end with “Namaste”, a word the instructor offers to their students. “Namaste”, translated directly, means “the divine in me bows to the divine in you”. In a modern-day setting, MindBodyGreen says that the word keeps its meaning, with the instructor offering thanks to their students for their generosity and energy, and the students saying it in return to thank their instructor for their guidance. This, and practicing gratitude for the world around you, is a concept that yoga teachers remind you to implement in your daily life.

If you’re looking for yoga studios to try or other workout places to fit into your exercise routine, check out Daydreaming in Paradise’s list of Manila’s Best Independent Gyms.