Story by: Natalie Farrell, Mar. 27, 2019
For a practice and set of disciplines which has its roots firmly in ancient India, why is it that so many people nowadays are turning to this traditional form of exercise? Its popularity is growing year on year. On June 21st, 2015, the first International Day of Yoga was observed by millions all over the world. In that same year, former US President Barack Obama, when promoting his Presidential Active Lifestyle Award, stated "Yoga has become a universal language of spiritual exercise in the United States, crossing many lines of religion and culture’s, ... Every day, millions of people practice yoga to improve their health and overall well-being.”
Yoga focusses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental wellbeing, but for me, and for many, it allows me to connect with and develop my spiritual side. These three things developing together is a powerful combination which I feel is what compels many to yoga. Drawing on a personal example, through my yoga practice and teaching I work on developing my focus, my concentration and my ability to be in the present. These are key skills which I am using daily, in every aspect of my life, including my relationships with my family and friends, as well as in my business.
Along with spirituality, connectivity is a word that I have heard many times when asking people why yoga is important to them. They mention “trying to simplify their lives”, they talk of the “need to slow” down amid the busy-ness of our day to day lives.
Yoga provides an opportunity to reconnect with our selves, to consciously slow down, focus inwards and inject a sense of calm amongst the chaotic nature of our thoughts. It teaches us to empty our minds of distractions, enabling us to think more clearly.
Our world is undergoing a period of accelerated change; politically, economically and technologically and with that comes a feeling of uncertainty, a questioning of our place, our role and ultimately our sense of self. I wonder if we feel that we are losing something of ourselves. I was lucky enough to have been taught by Ganga White, the founder of the White Lotus Foundation, in Santa Barbara USA, and author of “Yoga Beyond Belief”. In this book, he reminds us that “Part of yoga practice is to connect. To connect flexibility and strength, balance, concentration, sexuality, consciousness and spirituality, so that what may have begun solely as a physical practice can evolve into an integrated and holistic approach to all aspects of one’s life”.
I firmly believe this to be the case and I believe that this integrated and holistic approach to life is what people are looking for. Yoga is now widely accessible to all ages and respected for the benefits it brings. It is a discipline we can incorporate into our daily lives and is not about competition and comparing ourselves to others, rather it’s about listening to our bodies and working to build core strength, both mentally and physically at a pace and time of life suitable for us.
Undoubtedly, yoga provides many benefits to our physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being. It enables us to celebrate our individuality, practice being kind to ourselves and encourages a feeling of connection to the natural world around us, along with a sense of groundedness and stability that we can draw upon to help us navigate our way through our lives as we live them today.
Natalie Farrell Health and Lifestyle Coach and Founder of Yummy Yoga Girl