Yoga is a mechanism for Inner Well Being, Physical benefits are a side effect. It’s not a religion and not just an excercise, it is the science of the body that balances the inner & outer well being of the human body. [See blog for science references] Since the human body encompasses both, the health of one will surely follow the other, which is why it is so important to maintain well being on all levels of your mind&body.
The idea of inner well being encompasses nutrition, emotional, mental and spiritual development of the mind and spirit (translates to the part of humans that is intangible, but is always present). The human body is an amazing machine that no matter how much we try to figure out and dissect, still baffles modern medicine & science. This is partly due to society’s compartmentalization of functions in our mind and body, not taking into account that the intangible force of our thoughts and emotion has a direct effect on what result is produced in, out and around us. Just because the autonomic nervous system functions on a subconscious level, does not mean that the conscious part of our brain will not effect these systems, especially when it all functions off chemicals and nerves-the very things that are effected by our emotions and thoughts. Which in turn effects our outer world as small as how we talk to our loved ones to who we choose to run our nations.
If you are stressed, depressed, confused, angry, tired or have anxiety the decisions & reactions you make will be very different from the those you make when you are in a pleasant state of mind. Without having the ability to see it, internally all of your bodily systems communicate & function in accordance to your state of mind. The human body has emotions for a good reason much like pain receptors trying to bring our attention to something that needs tending, just because we do not fully comprehend their function does not make it any less important or something to be avoided.
When we do avoid processing our emotions, we unintentionally create blocks in our bodies that lead to negative effects on our overall health and well being. This is known to the medical field as the subconscious and/or our autonomic nervous system that has two branches: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system (which supposedly is not accessible by our conscious mind). These are the systems that make our body do so many things that we don’t have to think about, including but not limited to sending messages to grab an item you want, getting oxygen to the entire body, organ function and pumping blood. Blockages in or around these systems, through unprocessed energy (aka:emotion), is dangerous to our automatic function which regulates our overall health (mental&physical). Walking through challenging emotions from life situations can be uncomfortable, without the proper tools to cope with our relations & emotion they can be down right unbearable.
Not only does the physical part (stretching muscles tendons,helping joint functions) of Yoga help in healing these blocks, but it also aids us in the practice of techniques that help to not create future blocks by managing our mind (thoughts & emotional processes). If your mind spaces or shelves are full of junk you don’t need, how will there be room for more joy, peace or the divine if you wish?
Yoga philosophy does not quarrel with any religion or faith and can be practiced by anyone who is sincere and willing to search for the truth.
How does all this effect you spiritually? No matter what any individual believes personally, most of us have an idea of our soul (an intangible part of ourselves we can not explain) that is connected to a larger Creative Force. Wether its the Big Bang or a creation story, both are intertwined into the reality of what we are. The Yogic science of the body is focusing on what we see creation has made, not wasting what we have been given, by obsessing on how it was all created. Learning to fully use the gift and miracle that is our body (a complex machine) to its fullest potential. The only way to come remotely close to breaching our fullest capabilities as conscious beings with boundless potential is to turn our focus to what has been created that is right here, right now (our body) and learn to unify all the working parts of ourselves (including what we currently believe we do not have access to). Peace & Harmony within ourselves can be a very achievable short term or long term goal if that is what you seek.