The word “yoga” is a Sanskrit word meaning to yolk, unite, or connect – and it’s not a wonder so many people have begun turning to yoga in recent years, since this definition names the primary benefit that many yoga practitioners experience.
It was predicted several years ago that something like 55 million people worldwide would be practicing yoga by 2020. A significant portion of that growth has occurred in the last decade alone. According to a Yoga Alliance study, there are over 36 million active yogis in America. Between 2012-2016, the number of Americans practicing rose from roughly 20 million to 37 million, raising the participation rate by around 50% over those 4 years. People are practicing in settings from studios to on-site corporate wellness spaces, to even their living rooms, especially here in the age of Covid.
Maybe you’ve heard a friend or co-worker gush about how yoga has changed their life, but it wasn’t clear exactly how. It is often said that the benefits of yoga go beyond the physical, and perhaps one of yoga’s most unifying attributes is the profound effect it can have on the energetic, spiritual, and nervous system levels, helping us to feel more connected and at ease with the world around us.
Here are 4 ways that a yoga practice can help you experience connection in your daily life:
Yoga grounds us more fully in the body.
This goes beyond the aesthetics of the physical practice. Practicing yoga builds our capacity to come home, inviting us to drop out of the mind and into the more subtle sensations in the body which can lead to feeling more connected within.
Research suggests that practicing yoga poses can help you stand more in your power. According to one study, practicing expansive yoga poses can more readily bring about changes in one’s psychological state as compared with the phenomenon of “power-posing”, which has gained some traction in the corporate-world in recent years. The results showed that yoga poses, compared with ‘power poses’, were more likely to increase participants’ self-esteem.
Yoga can help us develop a healthy sense of discipline.
Somewhat paradoxically, as we become more deeply connected with the body, we can then let go of our preoccupation with controlling it – think of all these ideas we have in our society about making our body somehow “better” than it already is – smaller, larger, stronger, more bendy, even taller! From there, we can delve more deeply into who we truly are and what gifts we have to offer the world, simply through being ourselves. The simple act of returning to your mat at the same time week after week can connect you with a welcoming community and encourage cultivation of a gentle, steady sense of discipline that’s unrelated to controlling the body or competing with those around you.
Yoga invites us to contemplate and live our values.
Yoga philosophy, transmitted in part through texts including the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and The Bhagavad Gita, among others lays out guidelines for what yoga is and how to live a connected and engaged life. Engaging in the self-inquiry that yoga advocates for can help us cultivate community with others who are on a similar path, as well as enhance our ability to create bridges with those whose values might differ from our own.
Yoga can also support an open-mindedness and willingness to see out beyond ourselves, calling us to serve others who perhaps belong to underserved or marginalized communities. Yoga and social justice are inextricably linked.
And perhaps most important of all…
Yoga brings us into the present moment – the only place where life exists!
As humans, we tend to gravitate toward the past or the future, concerned with things like whether our work or our accomplishments – or we ourselves — are enough. Through sustained connection with the body and breath, the practice of yoga can help us to remember this timeless advice from the Buddhist teacher and author Thich Nhat Hanh — “The present moment is the only moment available to us and it is the door to all other moments.”
No matter where or how you come to the practice – whether it’s via a studio, your home, your workplace, or an ashram in India – yoga is a complex, nuanced, and deeply rewarding practice that has the capacity to weave connection through all aspects of your life.
Urban Balance is the premiere provider of comprehensive on-site corporate wellness services in Portland, Oregon. We deliver yoga, Pilates, meditation, massage, nutrition and learning opportunities to the office environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.
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If your Portland, Oregon area company is ready to step up its corporate wellness programming, contact us today to learn how Urban Balance can support your team and wellness goals!