32 Unusual Benefits of Yoga

There are many obvious benefits to yoga, for example: better breathing, a limber body, a stronger immune system, a better ability to cope with depression. But then there are the other ones, the unusual benefits, the edgy ones, the ones worth exploring.

Here are 32 of the most notorious to me:

1.- Discipline

Ever since I came into the practice of yoga, specifically Ashtanga, the word “discipline” took on a different meaning, a visceral one.  Now I understand at a cellular level what it means to have a practice, and I like it.

This has transcended into other areas of my life as well, for example, I notice that being present for conversations that take place in daily life is also a “practice” a “discipline”, or minding the type of veggies I select when at the supermarket, or the way the spinach is washed.  Discipline is a practice.

2.- Better Breathing
My husband used to joke with me when we were dating that I could tell when his breathing pattern changed and that nobody had pointed this out to him before.

Nowhere have the benefits been more clear than in the way I breathe. Nowadays I pay very close attention to my breath.  I notice when it gets shorter, and when it’s deep.  Just the simple awareness has improved the quality of my life, I now know when I need to slow down, take a break, sit on the cushion, calm down.

3.-Effective use of resources
Getting on the mat every day for an hour and a half has taught me to use my energy with care, to ensure it will last for the session. This again has manifested as I go through the day, for example I notice the way in which I am speaking.  Am I using too much energy in speaking too loudly? or, am I trying too hard where it is not necessary? Maybe trying to convince someone of something?
I can also detect quickly where there are clogs, where the energy gets obstructed, for example: Do I have too many things that I do not need? Do I really need to buy something, or would I just like it for a while and then not use it?

4.-Being at my perfect weight
released 30 pounds through yoga, and it was not done by being hard on myself or by being strong or weak, it was done through love. I also learned to love my body, just the way it is.  I am not always happy but I practice loving my body the way it is, every day.
5.- I Stopped complaining
I find that complaining is the biggest obstacle to success.  It is a waste of energy and a leak in the system. When I was into it, it was a great enabler for me to let the “victim” archetype show and take over, never a good conduit for growth or creativity.  Here are 8 reasons why I think we should all stop complaining.

6.- Relationships clarity

Love addiction is a trend very much kept in denial, the thrill of the chase, the playing hard to get, the phrases we keep in the collective consciousness as a way to escape and that ultimately do not serve us right, do not bring us meaningful  relationships.
Through the practice of yoga I came to understand that in relationships I was playing a game that was not healthy, I was addicted to intrigue (a word I did not even know existed 5 years ago).  I realized that I was more interested in creating drama than in finding what I truly craved: a real solid relationship, based on trust, and on a mutual desire to see each other grow and develop, on love.  
7.- A better tool set to deal with difficult situations
Yoga did not make life easier, but it gave me a better set of choices on how to deal with dramatic events, and to be honest, drama is something I try to avoid these days.  But life is suffering, that is the first precept the Buddha (an enlightened being) taught, and he is right, being a yogi does not make anyone exempt from having stuff happening to them.
So when I lost my job a few yeas ago and found myself near Times Square wondering where I would sleep the following week, at least I knew I had a practice, this is how I coped back then. Yoga was the basis, the foundation that let me realize I was going to survive.

8.- Freedom

This is a loaded word and it means different things to different people, but to me it means freedom from past conditioning, from not being true to who I am, from not speaking my truth.  It means getting out of my own way.
As Marianne Williamson says “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure
Yes.  Even though I am a foreigner, even though I did not go to an Ivy League college, even though I washed dishes and worked 16 hours a day when I first came to the US, a phrase like this gave new meaning to things.
She continues: “We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually who are we not to be?
Thank you Marianne, this is how I live my life now, who am I not to be? Of course I am here to shine my light, and so are you.

9.- Travel and adventure

Through yoga I have gotten the internal desire to travel to places I never dreamed I would visit, like India and Thailand, and the adventure continues.  The picture here shows a line of rikishaws in Mysore (taxis).

10.- Cleansing
Yoga has had a profound cleaning effect in me, for example, I learned to perform neti pot nose cleansings, do stomach churning exercises, enemas, I can’t wait to have a colonic. I vomited warm salty water, I did purification practices from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, I learned to do tratak and stare at a candle before I go to sleep.  
But the cleansing has gone a lot further, my house is also clean, my closet, the sheets in the bed.  My books are in order and so are my finances.  It is not perfect but it is a work in progress and the aim is for total transparency.  
Cleansing is very connected to efficiency up in point 3.  It is about using all resources, including the ones in the body efficiently. It is as much as letting the internal pipes of my body flow as it is for having the dishwasher work without an overload of dishes.
11.- A new and vibrant flock
Yoga comes with a community. If one is open to share it just does.  I have made wonderful new friends through it both in real person and in cyber space.  And this new bunch is colorful, it likes to talk asana and anatomy, sutras and enemas, life decisions and recipes for mending broken hearts, sweet adventures, practice frustrations and great tips. 
I started blogging when my practice became serious, and it has been a great way of learning, of putting in writing what I learn which, at least for me, is the best way to learn.
13.- A curving of the drama
Drama has abandoned me for the most part.  Not completely but I find that the deeper I go into yoga and the more I learn about using energy efficiently and to breathe better, the less drama there is in my life, or if there is, my reaction to it is not so dramatic.
14.- Clarity of Mind
It is rare these days that I will give an answer immediately, even if I think I know the answer.  The clarity that yoga has brought me allows me for inquiry, reflection, journal writing, deep thinking. 
15.- Listening skills
I thought I was a good listener, but I was not.   But since the yoga process started I have began to look at what people say even when it hurts, to remove me (ego me) from the equation and really think about what was said.  I have began to listen a bit deeper, not perfect, but improving.
16.- A pause before reacting
Perhaps 15 above has been instrumental in my stopping for a moment, a brief pause, sometimes almost unnoticed that has gotten me out of so many potential troublesome situations.  Just by not saying something right away, I know I have saved myself a lot of grief.  
17.- Better wording choices
I believe that the best kept secret in our world is the power of the word.  How we phrase things, the way in which we say what we want to say means the difference between a broken relationship and a flourishing one, between a success or a failure, between a gentle continuation or an abrupt stop in a practice.  Words are powerful, they are spells we cast, taking a moment to honor them, and to chose them with care brings about an abundance of new possibilities.
18.- Synchronicity
Synchronicity was there all along, I was just not noticing it.  Since I started practicing and reading authors like Deepak Chopra for example, I began finding answers in the most unusual places.  In the plates of cars, in a giant wheel I saw on the way to the airport as I went to India (which I understood as a turning on the wheel in my life).  I should write another post on this, there are so many my life feels like a science fiction novel.
19.- Embracing Uncertainty
Yes, that is it, instead of running away I learned to welcome change, the unknown, the new, that uncomfortable pinch of not knowing what is next.

You would think that it was not a far stretch for someone who left her country of origin and came to a whole new paradigm in the United States with no money and no connections, and that was a good learning curve, but since yoga began taking root in my life, the uncertainties doubled, and faith kicked in. And further embrace of uncertainty had to happen, it just had to. 

20.- Incredible teachers
I have been lucky, I met Guruji in Mysore the year before he died and study there, at the source, I have been to Thailand and had the opportunity to meet and study under Paul Dallaghan, I now have my own portable practice and study with Greg Tebb when visiting New York City.   I feel blessed for having a personal practice and access to great teachers. 
21.- Gratitude
Gratitude touches everything I do, I wake up saying thank you, I go to bed saying thank you.  This thank you is for having a body, for its functioning, for having food, a roof, shelter, warm food, a bathroom with a bath tub, a husband, children around me who keep it real, laughter… the list goes on.

22.- Better food choices

Just by being into yoga one has no choice but to get informed about food, it comes with the territory.  I have started to ask myself before I eat, “what is the most nutritious thing I can eat right now?”, then I trust what I hear, maybe chocolate lava cake today, might be spinach salad tomorrow.  I still respect my tendencies I do not force things, I just put the intention in eating healthy. The picture here shows some nice raw falafels.
Yes yoga brought miracles into my life.  Of course when people think of miracles they think of making magic, but that is not what miracles are for me.  A miracle in my life is a change in perception, seeing today something in a new light, allowing new thoughts in, changing.
How hard is it to change anything?  It is a miracle that I can see things the way I see them now, that I am writing this post, that negativity is something not allowed in my life these days, that I will refuse to speak badly about anyone, or at least try very hard. 
24.- The ability to relate better
To understand compassion not as a way of trying to make myself more important, but rather as something that makes me as human as every one else.  To really see that the common pulse of humanity and suffering is one I am very much a part of, to throw away my airs of grandiosity, I am not that important an this world needs a lot of things done, I must be of service.  Sometimes this newly found compassion extends even into me, which is nice.
25.- Living life dedicating everything to the divine
Here is a post I recently made with video on it about this, about living life as devotion, letting the results be up to that Higher Power that keeps us alive and reading or writing in this very moment.  Just this new habit has helped me to surrender and to trust.
26.- Creativity
Yoga helps creativity soar, all the better choices that are brought about fire it up, let it run free. For example, this series of 32 unusual things I have been running, where did it come from? the number 32 chose me! it got downloaded through my being willing to receive, magic!

27.- The power of mantras
Through yoga I learned about mantras, but it is only when I started practicing them that I realized how powerful they are.  I am not very fond of speaking about it, I believe some things need to remain private, and every one should do their own investigation and come to the practice, when ready.
28.- Scriptures
I have began to learn new ideas directly from the scriptures, going deeper into the philosophy behind yoga. I pretty much read everything I get my hands on, and the rabbit hole when it comes to yoga literature goes deep, as in over 2500 years old deep so far.
29.- A sense of awe and curiosity
Curiosity has been awaken, I am ever so interested in the journey in how the universe unfolds and rearranges to teach me, to nurture me.  When we trust, everything is supporting us and our creativity our work, our life feels right on purpose.

30.- Meditation

Through yoga I got acquainted with meditation, now I maintain a daily practice, with the silence, with the witness. I am a fan of the Vipassana meditation technique, here is a series of posts on why.
31.- Peace
I have found peace, not all the time, not every moment, but at a deeper level I am fundamentally a much more peaceful person since yoga came into my life.  Not perfect, still human, just more chilled and making better choices.
32.- I went down the rabbit hole
Every serious student of yoga will find this happening to her or him, it just does.  Suddenly we are in a world of wander, where life is still very real and we are very grounded in reality, but a new dimension has opened up where the possibilities seem endless, where we reconnect with looking at the sky at night and seeing so many stars and realizing how big the Universe is, how small we are, yet how powerful.

We notice how lucky we are to be here in human form, to have choices, for us in the West we also notice how blessed we are to have access to food, jobs, basic necessities, the time and space and the mental space to practice yoga.  We are blessed.

32 Unusual yoga quotes that jolt me back into center
32 Unusual things I look forward to doing next time I visit Mysore, India
32 Unusual things I learned in my yoga journey so far
32 Unusual things I am grateful for
32 Unusual ways to practice yoga off the mat
32 Unusual things I learned at Yoga Teacher Training
32 Unusual ways to improve our yoga practice
32 Unusual ways to practice concentration
32 Unusual ways to love ourselves


11 Responses to 32 Unusual Benefits of Yoga

  1. lilasvb January 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    i love your 32 lists! and this on is great<br />why 32 ?

  2. Boodiba January 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    Jeez I&#39;ve made no progress on the complaining front!

  3. Claudia January 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    Thanks Lilasvb!<br /><br />Boodiba, that is a work n progress I guess…

  4. January 7, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    Master phrase Claudia: &quot;….I use my energy with care.&quot; Your lists of 32 are really shaping themselves into something, verdad?

  5. Claudia January 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    Si serenaflavor, I guess they are… 🙂 and thanks for the comment on master phrase, my ego is oh so happy! 😉

  6. Boodiba January 7, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    If yoga is supposed to fix that quality automatically I guess I&#39;m impervious!

  7. the wild magnolia January 7, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    Fabulous! Amazing benefits and reasons to consider yoga!<br /><br />Thank you!

  8. Claudia January 7, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    Boodiba, unfortuntately, I do not think so… it takes two to tango… and per the &quot;impervious&quot; part, hold on let me check google translate, hmmm, checking…… &quot;inaplicable&quot;, OK, you crack me up<br /><br />Thanks Wild Magnolia! 🙂

  9. Yyogini January 9, 2011 at 4:20 am #

    So true! Thanks for listing these explicitly! Prior to practicing yoga (ie. prior to having experienced these myself), I&#39;d say you&#39;re totally exaggerating. I think there will always be a group of people who will remain skeptics without giving yoga a serious attempt.

  10. Claudia January 9, 2011 at 7:27 am #

    YYyogini, yes I have experienced some of those in other articles, this one seems to be good on that front though… at least so far. . Glad you liked it! 🙂

  11. Claudia November 8, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    Yoga for me has always been about finding a sense of peace and balance even when I&#39;ve felt like life was collapsing around me. It is great to get some endorphin in the system without running myself into cardiac arrest! Recently my sister has been taking classes at a new gym and she seems much more relaxed than usual.<br /> <a href="; rel="nofollow">http