Health benefits of yoga are a proven fact. There are many studies that provide concrete evidence of its efficiency as both physiological and mental treatment. However, as Harvard Medical School explains, regular practice of yoga transforms one’s entire lifestyle. At least, it has the potential to do that, and that’s the reason why this practice benefits your wellbeing on multiple levels.
The yoga lifestyle is a philosophy first and foremost. Bending your body into complicated asanas while practicing various breathing techniques is only a small part of it. To embrace this lifestyle completely, you will need to adapt every area of your life. However, doing this will be easy when you start on the road of consistent yoga practice. An improved body image as well as mental benefits of meditation and mindfulness, both essential elements of a comprehensive yoga practice, will motivate you to clean your diet, and from there, it’s only a short step to a clean and mindful life.
What Are the Elements of the Yoga Lifestyle?
There is no single definition of what exactly the yoga lifestyle is and what it includes. However, the basis of this philosophy lies in keeping the three ‘yoga bodies’ in good health. Therefore, all practices that are necessary to achieve this can be considered elements of the yoga lifestyle.
The three ‘yoga bodies’ are:
- You take care of the physical body through lifestyle changes that improve your health. This includes not only diet and exercise but stress relief practices as well, because your body’s ability to control the mind is largely physical in nature.
- Your astral body is your mental armor. It encompasses your emotions, sensations, and the subconscious. Practices focused on mindfulness and stress relief are needed to keep it healthy and strong.
- The casual body is a combination of both physical and astral, which is your actual self. It requires a special care that extends from physical and mental practices into the way you interact with the world.
The main practices and changes you’ll need to make to embrace the yoga lifestyle completely include:
- Switching to a clean healthy diet (preferably vegan as ‘no cruelty’ is one of the basic yoga principles).
- Practicing yoga as a form of daily exercise.
- Practicing meditation and mindfulness (you’ll need to work your way up to mindful living).
- Using various stress relief methods and techniques to purge your body of negative energy.
- Adopting the yoga code of conduct, which includes being non-violent to both yourself and others. According to this social code, you also need to speak the truth, avoid both greediness and possessiveness, remain faithful, and taking only what you need. The yoga lifestyle encourages sharing and helping others.
How to Embrace the Yoga Lifestyle and Make Your Transition Smooth
1. Go to a retreat
For many people, the best way to start a new lifestyle is to dive right into it. It’s much easier to do when you are literally surrounded by others doing the same. That’s why you should consider going to any of the peaceful yoga retreats. There you will not only find a way to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of modern life. You will also experience what it’s truly like to lead the yoga lifestyle and get advice and guidance to help you understand it better.
2. Embrace mindfulness (and meditation)
The news from Harvard researchers states that the power of mindfulness is so big, it literally changes the brain of depressed patients facilitating their recovery. Moreover, many other studies indicate varied levels of mindfulness efficiency for treating both physical and mental disorders, like fibromyalgia, PTSD, and irritable bowels syndrome.
The easiest method of practicing mindfulness meditation is to let yourself relax and focus on your breathing. Clear your mind and think of nothing except the coolness of the air entering your nose and its warmth as it leaves your body. The moment your thoughts start to stray, focus on breathing again. Start with 3-5 minutes of such practice a day, but also allow yourself to embrace any moment of happiness you have. Every time you experience a strong emotion, simply stop and let yourself bask in it.
3. Be kind to yourself
Leading the yoga lifestyle means being kind not only to the others, but yourself as well. This means not judging yourself too harshly or setting impossible goals. Instead, you need to focus on defining your own version of the yoga lifestyle. Research various teachings and then come up with a philosophy that will enable you to achieve happiness and inner peace. It might not include going vegan, for example, but it must have the improvement of your physical and mental health as its final goal.