Published 30th April 2019
Written by Jasmine Hornby – Resident Yoga Teacher here at Riverdell Spiritual Centre and the Co-Owner of the Daily Bend and Mend.

You have probably seen the big hype of yoga on social media or on the news. But what is it about this practice that seems to be taking the world by storm? We will be exploring a brief history of yoga and the incredible benefits that come from a regular practice.

Yoga is an ancient practice that has been around for years, dating all the way back to 2700 BC. Yoga originated in India. Yoga was developed to achieve harmony between the heart and soul on the path to enlightenment. Yoga literally means to ‘join’, ýoke’, ‘unite’. Yoga focuses on improving the individuals ‘consciousness’ and connection to ones self. By quieting down and giving time and space to digest ones busy life. Yoga asanas were first thought of to create mobility within the bodies to sit for longer periods of time in meditation.

Yoga isn’t just fantastic for you body by improving the bodies over all flexibility and mobility. It helps to build muscle strength, strong muscles do more than look good, they protect us from conditions such as arthritis and back pain. Yoga finds that beautiful balance between strength and flexibility within the muscles. It prevents cartilage and joint breakdown. Each time you practice yoga, you take your joints through their full range of motion. This can help prevent degenerative arthritis as through yoga we “squeeze and soak” areas of cartilage that can grow rigid as we grow older.

Yoga keeps your spine supple, the spinal disks crave movement a well-balanced asana practice with forward bends, twists and back bends will keep your disks fluid and healthy. Yoga calms your nervous system as you move with your deep yogic breath, it gets your blood flowing and improves your circulation in your hands and feet. Yoga also gets more oxygen to your cells, which function better as a result. Twisting poses are thought to wring out venous blood from internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow in once the twist is released. Inverted poses, such as Headstand, Handstand, and Shoulder stand, encourage blood from the legs and pelvis to flow back to the heart, where it can be pumped to the lungs to be freshly oxygenated.

It is fantastic for your lymphatic drainage, there’s nothing better than ending a class with your legs up the wall which allows all the fluid to drain from your legs to your lymph’s. This assists in cellular function and dispose of waste within the body.

Your blood pressure will drop as you rest in savasana (corpse pose). As it gently lowers your cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Excess cortisol causes havoc on your body and hormones. So movement, provided with breath and relaxation is a beautiful way to dissolve stress and bring your mind, body and breath back into harmony.

A regular yoga practices helps you focus and brings you back to the present. This practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory. It allows you to be a witness and observe the busyness of the mind and allows you to take the seat of the observer watching what bubbles up for you.

It brings you to your centre as your relax, slow your breath, and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system (or the fight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system. The more time you spend in this relaxed response, overall the greater sense of wellbeing. You get a little more at home in your own body and learn to tune into the more subtle layers of your body. Releasing the tension and unknown clenching in the jaw, teeth, eyes, forehead, shoulders and neck. which can increase stress and worsen your mood. As you practice yoga, you begin to notice where you hold tension: It might be in your tongue, your eyes, or the muscles of your face and neck. Learning to simply relax and let go!

It gives perspective and a peace of mind. A mindfulness practice slows down the mental chatter and loops of frustration, regret, anger, fear, and desire that can cause stress, it takes you out of that reactive state and into a state of response. Building that awareness around your inner workings makes it easier to break free of destructive emotions like anger, stress and sadness. It increases the feelings of compassion, gratitude and interconnection and by calming the nervous system and the mind.

Lastly yoga encourages self-care. Its time you allow just for you, away from the 24/7 go, go go. When you start introducing practices that care for yourself, you open yourself to eat better, move more and be more accepting of yourself, your situation and those around you. Showing up is the first step. Do something for you today.

Written by Jasmine Hornby – Resident Yoga Teacher here at Riverdell Spiritual Centre and the Co-Owner of the Daily Bend and Mend

A bit about Jasmine:

 I first started my journey at Riverdell teaching the morning Vinyasa & Hatha Yoga. I now work collaboratively to coordinate the wonderful events in which are facilitated here, whilst teaching a Hatha and Yin yoga class. I teach to not just help the physical but the mental and emotional. I love people leaving my classes feeling recharged and calm. My practice has helped me grow stronger both on and off the mat. Yoga reminds me to live each moment more mindfully. I love being creative and bringing likeminded individuals together. Through workshops, events and retreats.