As we enter the second week of Take Time Out 2016, which will see more opportunities for rest and relaxation, including yoga, mindfulness and tai chi, Wellbeing Coach and yoga enthusiast Belinda Okuya shares her own personal journey with yoga and the benefits it has brought to her wellbeing.
KCL students practising yoga with instructor Jennifer during the 2016 Take Time Out campaign
My Journey with Yoga – KCL Wellbeing Coach Belinda Okuya
The name yoga derives from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘union’, ‘to join’, the mind, body and spirit, through the practice of postures, meditation and controlled breathing. There are many different types of yoga, but they all serve the same aforementioned purpose.
I started practicing yoga regularly about three years ago. It’s been a steady development of myself and my body throughout that time. Developing my stamina, my posture, my strength, my breathing and my focus. My evolving relationship with the practice of yoga reflects the evolution of my relationship with my mind and body too. I have gained physical and mental strength by pushing beyond my boundaries, and greater clarity and calm by connecting with my mind through my body on a deeper level. I’ve learnt that whatever I experience on the mat I experience in my world, which has helped me to grow and develop greater self-understanding and compassion.
“Yoga is a dance between control and surrender – between pushing and letting go – and when to push and when to let go becomes part of the creative process, part of the open-ended exploration of your being”. Joel Kramer
Benefits of Yoga
The benefits of yoga are many and varied. Like many things in life you get out of it what you’re ready to put in. Unlike many other forms of exercise there is a spiritual element to yoga, which is a part of the practice that you can choose, along with your body, to explore further, each time you get on the mat. Otherwise some of the other well-known benefits are:
- Stress relief – reduce the physical effects of stress on the body.
- Better breathing – Yoga slows down and deepens the breath, which activates the body’s parasympathetic system (relaxation response).
- Weight management – A study from the Journal of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine found that regular yoga practice was associated with less age-related weight gain.
- Increased strength – Yoga postures use every muscle in the body.
- Cardiovascular conditioning – Yoga practice increases endurance and oxygen supply to the body.
- Calm and relaxation – Regular yoga practice has a meditative quality.
From Yoga Alliance.
“Yoga is the Journey of the Self, Through the Self, To the Self” – Bhagavad Gita