12...make that 13...benefits of yoga

by Kimberly Flyr

As I write this, it’s the start of a new session at Yoga Center of Columbia. As I was planning my classes for the session, I started to think about why I teach yoga - what has yoga taught me that is so important that I want to share it with others? Here was my initial list of what I’ve learned and why I’m so grateful to yoga: 

  1. Greater flexibility

  2. Greater balance

  3. The power of breath

  4. How to witness, gently

  5. It’s fun to play!

  6. Awareness of Samskaras (habits)

  7. The importance of intention

  8. Connection to something beyond me

  9. The body speaks truth.

  10. The mind speaks in story.

  11. The union of mind/body/spirit

  12. The benefits of community

It’s not a bad list, really…I’ll enjoy sharing all of these themes with my students. But something happened this week that reminded me in a more personal way how I’ve benefited from yoga.
I was having a difficult day. I was arguing with not one, but two, family members, and I could feel all my old habits kicking in: shoulders tightening, stomach clenching, breath shortening, defensiveness building, etc. I wish I could say that my years of yoga allowed me to find nothing but peace and wellbeing and sail through this day with goodwill to all.
Suffice to say that was not my experience.
Still, something interesting did happen. I found myself able to be more aware of my habits, to witness myself, even as I fell into old patterns. I was still defensive, still worked up, but I could see it from some distance and even breathe into it a little. There was a part of me that could help the rest of me get through a difficult day.
While that didn’t fix everything, it was enough. It felt like a little miracle, actually, this ability to access a new form of self-care. I see so many of the benefits of yoga that I had listed as the seeds that flowered into this new way of being with myself, showing up unexpectedly just when most needed.
And so, I will be adding a #13 to my list: Help getting through difficult days. No small benefit… and well worth sharing.

Samira Shuruk