Iyengar Yoga – Beyond the Obvious
When most people think of yoga and its benefits, flexibility jumps to the top of the list. Balance probably comes to mind as well, with stress reduction following closely. But there is growing evidence that we are just scratching the surface of yoga’s potential when we limit our perceptions to the most obvious benefits.
The inspiration for this blog article was a recent article in the L.A. Times that was shared with me by a student. (link) The article describes how yoga is being used with combat veterans to help them heal from physical and mental trauma. The young man pictured in the article attended the Iyengar Yoga Conference last month and gave a passionate tribute to his teachers at the conference dinner. I was inspired by his perseverance.
A quick read of Iyengar Yoga Therapeutics site reveals studies on yoga for back pain, fatigue, HIV, depression and anxiety, MS and chronic pain. Many of these studies show promise that yoga can bring improvements for those suffering from these conditions.
The thing about yoga is that benefits come from continued consistent practice! Yoga is not a pill you can swallow to obtain instant permanent relief, but an incremental health and well-being resource, a resource that builds up a “bank account” of health credits to be withdrawn in times of need. Many of the studies have people come to class at least twice a week for a period of several months before results are measured.
My personal story is that yoga helped me overcome a deep depression in my 30’s and an ongoing issue with anxiety. I began taking yoga classes right when the depression and anxiety first struck. Yoga did help in the short term (I always felt better after a class or practice), but I still struggled daily. But over the length of my 17 year practice I noticed changes in myself. I was evolving. The depression came less often and the anxiety started to fall away. When either of these “teachers” visits me, I know that I can face what comes, and I know that the feelings aren’t my true self, but only temporary. Yoga has given me this gift.
Nina Pileggi is an Intermediate Junoir II Iyengar Yoga Teacher. She lives in Beaverton, Oregon.