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  • Writer's pictureErica Butler

How Yoga Has Helped Me

Yoga has helped me in every aspect of my life from physical, to mental, spiritual, and emotional. Through the physical practice of yoga, I have not only increased my flexibility, mobility, and strength, I have also created and maintained a connection with my body that I previously didn’t know was possible. This connection has allowed me to become more in-tune with my body and its needs. I am now able to literally “tap-in” to my body on and off of the mat, and I can hear the messages my body is sending me. For example if I am physically pushing or straining myself my body will tell me “stop” or “no more” with subtle sensations. The more in-tune I am with my body the more likely I am to feel these sensations, recognize them, and honor my body by stopping to prevent injury or dis-ease. Our bodies will tell us exactly what we need if we are willing to slow down, quiet the mind, and listen.

One of the biggest “goals” of yoga is learning to quiet the fluctuations of the mind (“mind-chatter”, “monkey mind”). In doing this, we are able to come to the present moment without the distractions of our thoughts — allowing us to come home to ourselves, our breath, our body. One of my favorite ways to practice quieting the mind is through pranayama or breathwork. There are countless benefits of having a diligent pranayama practice (i.e. improves lung function, enhances cognitive performance, soothes and regulates the nervous system, etc.). I am always reminding my students, as well as myself, if at any time during Asana practice you start to feel your mind wander, or become distracted, come back to your breath. The more we practice returning to the breath while on the mat, the easier it becomes to implement off of the mat and into our daily lives.

Pranayama has taught me to come back to my breath when life challenges me and presents its obstacles off of the mat, to find my center — my clarity. I’m then able to respond from a calm centered place knowing that no matter what obstacles present themselves, I always have my breath to come back to and that is something no one and no-thing can take away from me. Our breath is our life-force, our super power. It can be a powerful tool in our tool-belt for life if we learn

how to connect with it and use it intentionally.

The diligent practice of asana and pranayama alone have shifted my entire reality for the better. I want to add emphasis to the word diligent because although you can feel and receive benefits from just one yoga class the more you practice and the more you show up to the mat, the quicker you begin to transform not only your breath, body, and mind — you begin to transform your reality and the world around you. Yoga has helped me find my purpose. Yoga has brought me back home to myself and for that I am forever grateful for this practice.

—Erica Butler

Yoga Teacher

RYT® 200

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