5 SURPRISING BENEFITS OF YOGA
Article by Michele Hébert
What does a typical day entail? Get up early, check. Get the kids off to school, check. Hard day’s work, check. Get dinner on the table, check. Spiritual practice…check?
Most of us operate in busy, high-stress environments, moving through the day too quickly to stop and think about the toll the chaos takes on the mind and body. Taking the time to audit your inner wellness can lessen the stress, help fend off disease, and enhance self-confidence.
March is Spiritual Wellness Month, and the perfect time to learn the benefits of incorporating meditation and yoga into your life. Yoga is a combination of mental and physical disciplines incorporating meditation practices benefiting body, mind, and spirit. While many are first drawn to the physical benefits of yoga, Michele Hébert, Raja Yoga teacher and wellness educator for over 30 years, encourages yoga practitioners to delve deeper into yoga’s life-changing spiritual benefits.
“Even if you are not engaged in meditation at a specific time,” says Hébert, “the regular practice of yoga positively impacts your entire day, in a variety of ways. “Sometimes a shift in consciousness may be experienced in a change as simple as waking up feeling healthier, happier, more vital, and more inspired to meet the day.”
Employing the teachings of Raja Yoga, which emphasize the inner practices of yoga, Hébert encourages one to find the spiritual practice which best fits them. No matter what you choose, there are five great and surprising benefits discovered through a regularroutine.
1) Posture provides power to overcome obstacles. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned Yogi, when one thinks of yoga, images of different poses come to mind.Mastering these various poses through complete concentration and focus is symbolic of overcoming daily obstacles. This discipline strengthens you to deal with hardships calmly and rationally.
“Steady, rhythmic breathing while holding the postures teach us to take that calming breath in the face of the life challenge,” adds Hébert.
2) Spiritual wellness equals less stress. Yoga asks students to practice self-awareness, allowing you to be more attuned to the positive or negative direction of your thoughts. Through meditation, the things that tend to push your buttons or bring you down become clearer, providing internal readiness from any stressors that come your way. The practices of yoga help you to release physical tension and mental anxieties, maintaining a calm, centered inner being.
3) Interconnectedness leads to inner peace – and a healthier body. It is a scientific fact that the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems work together as one. If your body is aching, the soundness of your mind is affected and if you are emotionally conflicted, this can manifest physically. By working on your inner well being, you strengthen your connection between body, mind, and spirit, thus improving emotional and physical health.
4) Meditation leads to mental fitness. One benefit of meditation is that you acquire a new lens through which you perceive the world around you.”My mentor, legendary Yoga Master Walt Baptiste, once said, ‘In the practice of meditation our minds become peaceful and leave the worldly nature of ourselves.'”Meditation has the power to silence chattering, manic minds,” adds Hébert.Quite literally, yoga gives you the opportunity to stop, take a breath, and clear your thoughts. After the meditation is complete, you can approach whatever life holds for you with a new sense of calm and logic.
5) Inner well being enhances your immune system. Through her mind-body-spirit integration research, Hébert introduced medical professionals to the benefits of yoga as it relates to immune system and its power to help people who have health challenges. From the common cold to life-threatening illnesses, regular meditation practices helps strengthen immune response and can be a powerful aid in warding off ailments.
About the Author
Michele Hébert is a Raja Yoga and meditation teacher, wellness educator, natural nutritionist, and motivational speaker. Michele holds the highest degree of yoga teacher mastery offered by Yoga Alliance (E-RYT 500) and was awarded the title of Raja Yoga Guide by her teacher Walt Baptiste. She implemented the first meditation-based stress management program at the renowned Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, CA, teaching mind-body wellness techniques to enhance the immune system. She has authored numerous articles published in industry journals in the area of mind-body health, and was one of the lead teachers in a private fitness video commissioned for H.H. the Dalai Lama.
Michele has been associated with Rancho La Puerta Fitness Resort and The Golden Door Spa for 20 years, where she is a frequent presenter and speaker on spirituality and the art of conscious living. Michele and her husband Dr. Mehrad Nazari lead international yoga, health and spiritual retreats to exotic locations such as Esalen Institute, Costa Rica, Rancho la Puerta in Tecate, Mexico, and India. She has recently created the CD education series, “The Inner Practices of Yoga,” and teaches The Art of Meditation course at University of California, San Diego. To learn more about Michele and her latest title, The Tenth Door: An Adventure Through the Jungle of Enlightenment, please visit http://www.rajayogis.net
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