Yoga has multiple benefits. This is why people turn to yoga in the first place and, I believe, that this is why so many people fall in love with yoga and turn it into a daily practice. But now I would like to talk about how yoga changed me and what effects had and still has on me.
Let’s begin with the physical effects, which were multiple and some of them are usual effects for any kind of physical activity, but there are also some which I don’t think any kind of physical activity have on the body. So:
the muscle tonus improved
the strength increased
the breathing capacity increased
the flexibility improved
the way I walk changed - and this was told to me by people who know me for a long time - I walk in more rhythmic, steady and aware way
my equilibrium improved very much, even though I still struggle a lot in balancing poses
my orientation in space and the way I carry my body in space improved very much. I never did any sport for a long period of time and this was really exciting for me. I am always thrilled when I discover that I feel and I am aware of my body in space. For example, before yoga, if I would do Worrior II, even if with the best verbal explanations, for sure I wouldn’t position my arms parallel to the floor, my hips parallel to the long edge of the mat, nor I would have my shoulders and hips in alignment. Now I just feel my body in space and I can easier align it the way it should be. Things like this and the improvement of equilibrium kept and keep me excited about my daily practice and burst my desire to keep on going. They are small things, but you can’t climb a mountain with just one step.
my legs straightened. This might sound weird, but my legs weren’t (and still aren’t) straight, they were in X shape. All the attention paid to alignment, all the stretches and all the work on the “hidden” muscles (if you’ve done yoga or even Pilates you know what I am talking about) made my legs to “align” and become more straight.
my previous medical conditions improved. I have a really sensitive stomach and digestive system. In fact, I had something that doctors couldn’t discover exactly what it was and I just tried different medications until some of them worked and I kept on taking them. A couple of months after starting yoga, I discovered that my digestive problems improved and soon I stopped taking medications, in the beginning just to see how I would react and once I saw I was doing ok without medications, I stopped taking them. Obviously, there are times when I still have to take them, but the fact that I don’t have to take them daily it is amazing for me. All of my digestive problems have a very strong connection with the mind. My problems always start to manifest when I am stressed. Many times, I realize that I am stressed only because my health issues start to appear, because many times I say to myself “I’m not stressed! I’m not!”, but then my body starts to react and I have to be honest to myself and admit that perhaps it’s better to take a few steps back and rethink things.
my skin looks much better: my complexion and my overall skin have become cleaner, brighter, firmer. In many yoga books it is stated that yogis have “a glow”, this is true and I don’t think it is only a matter of the skin, but also a matter of “glowing from the inside”, a consequence of the thoughts shift and the quality change of our thoughts. This leads my to the next category of yoga effects and the most important.
my eyesight has improved. In yoga there is something called drishti, which is a certain gazing point; each asana has a drishti. Paying serious attention to the drishti has come after a year of practice only. But once I started to really focus my eyesight in the drishti points, I also started to observe that my distant vision (which I had problem on) was improving. Awesome, right?