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Deeper than the substantial fitness benefits of practicing yoga are the benefits of yoga for balance, integration, and healing.
At its roots, yoga is not about fitness goals or achieving perfection of form. It is about entering a process, a journey that deepens our relationship with the body, and invites more energy and health into our whole being—body, mind, and spirit.
In the yoga tradition, we are each multi-dimensional beings. The healing and transformative benefits of yoga exist because practicing asanas (yoga poses) creates integration and balance among the dimensions.
Yoga philosophy states that humans have five dimensions, or Koshas. The Koshas are also called sheaths—as in sheaths (layers) of being—and are the expressions of our deepest nature.
It is easy to see how these Koshas interact if you think about the experience of depression. Depressed individuals tend go about in a slouched posture with the head drooped forward. Their breathing is usually restrained and shallow. So, the mental dimension (depression) is reflected in the physical dimension (slouching) and alters the energy or prana dimension (shallow breathing).
When practicing yoga asanas, the physical and energy (breath) dimensions work together and increase their integration. This frees and stimulates the flow of life-force in the physical and energy dimensions—creating more vitality in the mental/emotional sheath—bringing it into balance with the other energies.
In this way, over time, and with regular practice, yoga can help improve our mood, sense of well-being, and integrate our higher faculties.
Source: Yoga U (yogauonline.com)
Photo credit: Mike Baird
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