While every yoga student recognizes the overall feeling of wellbeing that occurs after a good yoga class, it is much easier to miss the signs that an an ongoing yoga practice has begun to work its magic. The effects are incremental, often subtle, but after several months of regular yoga, pausing to take stock might lead to some interesting conclusions.
Diminished Aches and Pains
Many of us have chronic, minor aches and pains. It can be a lower back that nags from time to time, tension held in the shoulders or a twinge in the knee that flares up when climbing a flight of stairs. We can get so used to these discomforts that they don’t warrant any special notice when they occur. By the same token, we often don’t notice when they start to go away. After a few months of yoga, you may realize you have fewer incidents of what used to be normal aches and pains.
Feeling at Ease
Just as minor joint and muscle pain can bother us, small incidents during the course of the day often lead to feelings of frustration. How often do little things bother us? Yoga often provides a feeling of ease, a useful sense of detachment so that we are not caught up in other’s drama or random events. After yoga class, you are much more likely to shrug it off when you are jostled by someone in a crowd, when a driver cuts you off or you stub your toe.
The mind is a restless creature. Sometimes we are able to focus on the task at hand, but most of us are easily distracted by almost anything. Ultimately, through yoga, we learn to pay attention to our actions. When the mind is actually aware, it can become totally absorbed, completely focused. This translates into everyday life so that we become more efficient at work, listen to others more attentively and even, at times, stay completely quiet and still in savasana.
Yoga can be very effective at increasing mental and physical stamina. Holding yoga poses for long periods of time is one way this happens, though it also comes from a well balanced practice. Regular yoga students are likely to find they can more readily draw on a hidden reserve of physical energy or mental concentration when the occasion calls for it.
These changes are likely to happen slowly, over time, not in a dramatic fashion. You may not notice them at first, but one day may realize that your back has not hurt all week, that everyday annoyances haven’t put you in a bad mood and that you’ve gotten lots of things accomplished. Reflect back and list the changes that have come about since you started yoga.