While many people take yoga classes or start a home yogapractice for the health and physical benefits, those who have practiced for anyextended period of time know there is much more to yoga. Even beyond thereduction of mental stress typically associated with yoga, there is much togain spiritually and consciously. These types of benefits are often harder toquantify or describe, but that does not make them any less real.

Presence of Mind

A large part of yoga is about being present in the moment.Rather than letting our minds wander freely as they like, when practicing yoga,we bring our awareness to the body and to the breath. Like training thephysical body, the mind becomes better at this with repeated effort over time.Ultimately, this increased focus and awareness rewards us spiritually. We feelconnected with ourselves and our surroundings, slowly becoming a part ofsomething larger than ourselves.

Understanding of Self

Yoga moves us inward. Part of yoga is the withdrawal of thesenses. Instead of directing our sensory organs toward the outer world, we turnthem inside. Lying in savasana, or any restorative yoga pose, it becomespossible to move our awareness inward layer by layer. The body relaxes andbecomes more quiet; the mind becomes more quiet. Inside of this stillness, wecan relax and become aware of our own true self. While this self-awareness willnot happen every time we practice yoga, even a few moments of the mind being ina quiet and comfortable place is nourishing and restorative to the spirit.

Growing in Compassion

At the end of a yoga class, it is natural to feel calm,focused and quiet. Looking around the room at other students, you can see it intheir faces, too. Everyone is present and aware. Going through a meaningfulshared experience, even something as seemingly simple as a yoga class, draws uscloser to other people. We are likely to feel caring and compassion toward ourfellow practitioners. Hopefully, we take that feeling with us out of the studioand into the world.

Yoga is rewarding and nourishing on many different levels.The mind, body and spirit are all served by the regular practice of yoga. Evenif you started yoga for other reasons, you may find the most meaningful aspectof yoga is in the growth of your own human spirit.