Yoga as a regular practice helps in daily life as it brings balance, relaxation, discipline, health, happiness and a sense of peace to our lives. The understanding of yoga philosophy also helps in making relationships stronger as the philosophy talks a lot about union and connecting with people. It talks about humility and letting go of the ego.This paves the way for the forging of strong relationships.
Practising yoga brings balance into our lives. Yoga helps us to bring balance between ida and pingala nadis which are energy channels that run through the left and right sides of the body symmetrically.This sense of balance is brought about through balancing postures, pranayama or breathing techniques (specifically a technique called anuloma viloma breathing which encourages equal balance between ida and pingala nadis) and meditation. Balancing postures such as garudasana or bakasana help you focus on ajna chakra (an energy point located at the forehead specific to balance between our left and right sides) and hence bring balance into your everyday life.
Yoga brings relaxation into our lives. Yoga helps us work the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system slows down your heart rate, reduces the force with which your heart beats at and reduces the force of contraction of your heart. All of this helps to relax you. Yoga also helps by relaxing muscles especially is asana (physical) practice. When we are tense in our minds then we also tense muscles in our bodies. However, in yoga we stretch muscles and hence relax them. This sends a signal to the brain that the muscles are being relaxed and this causes the mind to relax. Yoga helps as well through silencing the mind in meditation and through slowing down the breath and heart rate through pranayama (breath control) techniques.
Yoga gives you discipline as it requires you to practice regularly in terms of physical practice, meditation and breathing techniques. Through regular practice, benefit is achieved and this encourages you to use discipline in other areas of your life. Another aspect of discipline in yoga is that the philosophy of yoga teaches one to regularly check the mind for ‘citta vriddhis’ or waste thoughts so that you regularly make sure your thoughts are positive and calm. This is the true practice of yoga and also the important discipline of being a yogi (a practitioner of yoga).
Yoga helps you remain healthy. Yoga practice helps lower blood pressure, improves blood circulation, strengthens muscles and it helps with insomnia (through relaxation). Learning yoga philosophy teaches you about good diet, especially in terms of the sattvic diet. You learn to eat food which is better for you when you practice yoga. For example you naturally drift towards more organic, wholemeal and less fatty food as part of a more healthy lifestyle. You also eat more fruit and vegetables and so allow more vitamins and minerals to enter into your body.
Yoga helps you to feel happier. This is partly as yoga practice involves exercise. The practice of vinyasas (movement from one posture to another) like other forms of cardiovascular exercise helps the body to release endorphins which are chemicals that work to make one happy. But it is not just the physical practice of yoga that helps you feel happy, the philosophy of yoga teaches one to control the mind so that thoughts are purer, more benevolent, directed towards a better karma and ultimately to bring one to one’s natural state of bliss.
Yoga helps bring a sense of peace to your inner self. Meditation as part of yoga practice brings you peace. The sense of balance you achieve from yoga brings you peace. Focusing on the breath during physical asana practice brings clarity to the mind and hence brings you peace too. Contemplation on the philosophical ideal in yoga that your natural state is peace brings you closer to your true self.
Yoga helps you in your relationships as well. Yoga teaches you to let go of ahamkara or the individual ego. This allows you to connect better with others, to relate better to others and to form ‘yoga’ or union with the world around you.
A chakra is an energy point within the body in yoga. Working on the throat chakra (vishuddhi chakra is sanskrit) with yoga postures related to this chakra such as shoulder stand (sarvangasana), plough (halasana) or bridge pose (setu bandhasana) allow you to communicate better with others and hence also help you develop your relationships. Meditation or contemplation on vishuddhi chakra also helps you to do this.
Opening up manipura chakra (which means gem city and is located at your solar plexus) in postures such as virabhadrasana (warrior pose) allows courage to develop.
Inversions such as downward dog (adho mukha svanasana) or headstand (sirsasana) help you to develop your sahasrara (your seventh chakra) and hence develop your higher self. This helps you develop peace within and hence live life in a more peaceful way.
It can hence be seen that yoga helps in many areas in everyday life leading to more happiness, health and inner peace.