Be at your best with Yoga: 6 ways yoga can beat life’s challenges

Be at your best with Yoga: 6 ways yoga can beat life’s challenges.

​By Lucy Clementson-Mills.

‘The success of yoga does not lie in the ability to perform postures but in how it positively changes the way we live our life and our relationships’ T.K.V. Desikachar

Unfortunately, in today’s society there is a misconception about what yoga is! So, who is it for and what does it truly involve? Yoga is so much more than postures. Yoga is for everyone, of every age and it can have great benefits on our quality of life and help us deal with the daily challenges we all face.

What is yoga?

The word yoga comes from Sanskrit yogaḥ, meaning, joining together. There are many definitions including a way of life; a skill in action; a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, which includes breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures. It is widely practiced for health and relaxation. Yoga is not just about living a healthy lifestyle through exercise, but is also about cultivating the right thoughts and attitudes towards life, having a healthy and nourishing diet and learning to relax the body and the mind.

Applying yoga to today’s world and 6 big challenges

1. The increase in obesity, diabetes and other health conditions: We know our life style, including what we eat and what we put into our bodies, affects how we think, act, and respond. Our life style has a direct impact on our sleep, health and wellbeing. Yoga practice re-orients the functional hierarchy of the entire nervous system. Not only does yoga benefit the nervous system but also the cardiovascular, respiratory and digestive systems in those who practise it.

2. Increased levels of anxiety, stress and burnout: Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri explains almost all diseases originate in stress; one of the worst problems of modern day living, and if we do not release the tension or stress regularly from our lives it accumulates over our lifetime and can cause major illnesses. We can catch stress like we can catch a cold! So, choose our company wisely as being around stress and negativity can rub off on us. Yoga helps cultivate an attitude where we understand everything which happens to us is for our own evolution, creating a positive attitude rather than accumulating mental stress and tension. Breathing practice is important as we ensure the body receives the nutrients required to function effectively. Our blood is re-oxygenated and this fresh blood is propelled through the arteries to carry oxygen and nutrients to every part of the body and remove carbon dioxide waste.

3. A 24/7, always available culture: we all find it hard to switch off these days and be fully present. However, our breathing practice provides yogic control of our body, mind and emotions. Through our breath and focusing on this we are fully engaged in the present moment and by bringing our consciousness to the breath, we switch off from everything else going on around us and in our mind.

4. Increased medication: Many of us believe that our problems lie elsewhere and a swift visit to the Doctors will sort things. Yoga however teaches us that most problems lie within us and we have to undergo conscious change in order to solve them - to be happy, we have to start thinking happy. We can choose our attitude, and therefore our life, if we take responsibility for our wellbeing. Alongside the need to change our thoughts, it is not just what we think and do; but what we say. We need to be careful with our choice of words and use more positive language. For example, you may hear a lot of people talk of “my back pain” or even “my bad luck”. They do not want to let it go and it starts to define them. Refocussing on the temporary situation and accepting it, is an important part of yoga.

5. We want everything yesterday!: We are becoming more impatient, not appreciating what we already have and what is going on around us as we are already on to the next thing. We want quick fixes to our problems. I have people come to me explaining they have a bad back and they want to know what posture can then do to fix it. Not taking into account their lifestyle, whether they’re a heavy smoker, drink a lot of alcohol, have a poor diet, are a shallow breather etc. Yoga encourages us to look at the whole person – how you breathe, think, eat and sleep.

6. Our bad posture: In yoga, we work to loosen up the whole body. Rotating the wrists to loosen up any tightness from computer work to rolling the shoulders to release tension from sitting down all day. In practice, we sit with the back straight and shoulders relaxed, encouraging a good posture and through various exercises, the lungs are lifted to further correct bad posture. Yoga naturally reminds us throughout the day to keep a straight back and brings an awareness to our posture at all times – whether sitting, standing or driving. 

Yoga can become a ‘way of life’. 

Yoga is a science and should be lived. And it is accessible to everyone and has huge benefits in today’s world. Yoga encourages us to look within ourselves so that we can reach our potential and become the best version of ‘you’. Health and happiness are our birth right and we should claim them and develop them for us to achieve our maximum potential. Today we are so busy trying to find health and happiness that we forget why we are here in the first place. When we start to integrate yoga into our lives we can positively change the way we live our life and our relationships. I would encourage everyone to take their first steps on this journey to a new you by seeking out a gentle yoga class and enjoying the benefits that yoga can bring to your life. 


Lucy is a certified Yoga Teacher and founder of Yoga Three60. Lucy’s mission is to help organisations and people be at their best through her people consultancy business, Culture Three60. 

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