by Elizabeth (Liz) Sostre
People are passionate about and willingly commit to a lot of things. Yoga is a discipline and practice that many people connect with. I share this sentiment for the same reasons that others are so drawn to this ancient discipline that originated over 5,000 years ago in North India.
One of the beauties of yoga is the array of classes that one can practice…from Hatha levels I, II, and advanced, to yin, restorative, gentle, prenatal, chair and more! It is available for every kind of body and can be a source of transformation.
Practicing yoga daily affords many gifts, commencing with the physical aspect. It is all about experiencing the body – feeling and working through the stress, achiness, joint pain, or sore muscles in exchange for releasing and letting go of toxins that accumulate in the organs and other parts of the body. In addition to releasing toxins, one experiences the gift of flexibility, agility, and bone strength.
Another physical benefit from the daily practice of yoga is the drainage of the lymph nodes for better circulation and fluid flow throughout the nodes. Pratyahara or legs up the wall is an inversion that has many benefits. To do this pose, gently swing your legs up against a bare wall, as you lie flat on your back, arms in any comfortable position, and stay in this position for up to 15 to 20 minutes. You can place an eye pillow or eye mask over your eyes. Come out of the pose gently, drawing your knees toward your chest, wrapping your arms around them and rolling onto your right side. Or scoot back, pushing yourself away from the wall using your bottom, hands, and forearms. Give yourself a moment to relax on your back before moving into an upright position. Breath work techniques can be also be explored and mudras to add to the benefits of an inversion. You get to let go of tension, stress, and anxiety, improve thyroid function, experience sciatica pain relief, as well as alleviating back discomfort, and tightness along the lumbar and more. Practicing yoga daily can open the shoulders, chest, lengthen spine and even reverse the little hunch that sometimes forms between the shoulder blades along the cervical spine. This feel-good pose can be done every day!
A daily yoga practice offers a second gift. Learning to connect and control the breath as a way to send oxygen to parts of the body where it may be lacking. The breath calms the sympathetic nervous system, and activates the parasympathetic system, slowing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, while promoting digestion. As Swami Rama states in the collaborative book, Science of Breath, “Controlling the breath, is a prerequisite to controlling the mind and the body.”
A daily yoga practice integrates mind and body health. What about spiritual health? Yoga is a mindfulness practice, (being present in the moment) and creates a state of therapeutic healing. In addition to releasing stress and anxiety, it fosters emotional regulation within the mind and body. The spirit is about engaging the mind and body to bring these three aspects together to promote relaxation and healing for overall health and vitality through acceptance, self-compassion, and non-judgment.
When you put this all into a daily lifestyle practice, the rewards are immeasurable. There is nothing to lose, but a whole lot to gain. Using yoga for everyday life gives one the gift of looking inward where you plant seeds, nourish, and nurture the garden of your soul, and blossom one day into a healthier mind, body, breath, and spirit. I am very grateful for this daily practice. Reaping all the benefits that yoga provides for the mind, body and spirit, allows me to approach everything with loving-kindness even when I am being tested. What a wonderful way to live! Whether you practice for an hour, 30 minutes, or even 10 minutes, doing this daily practice is uplifting and brings you closer to vibrant health.
Liz Sostre returned to her love for yoga and writing during the time she took ill with Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, in 2009. Upon learning she could not return to her career as an educator for the Department of Education, she took time to rediscover herself. As she continued her new journey, she developed interest in several healing modalities, which led her to becoming a Reiki master, yoga teacher, yoga/wellness retreat coordinator, life and holistic health coach, and a transformational trainer.
She wrote her first workshop, “Living Towards Wholeness” in 2019, which she continues to facilitate and promote, as her belief is that personal growth is born through the process of both spiritual and transformative work, springing one into a state of awareness, breakthrough, and application. Her vision for the world is connection – to connect in a space of respect, love, compassion, and peace. She has a BA in English Literature/Creative Writing and went to Graduate school for Clinical Counseling. Liz is currently writing a book, Deconstructing Your Past To Live In The Present.