The health benefits of yoga are fairly well-known. Many yogis first sought out the practice to help them ease stress or recover from an injury. Yoga's gentle movements are ideal for improving flexibility, mobility, & circulation for people of all ages and fitness levels.
This year, however, the greatest benefit of yoga may give you is an hour away from your phone and other electronic devices. Over the past half decade, our lives have sped up at an almost incomprehensible rate. The news cycle has gone from being a 24-hour news cycle to a 20-minute news cycle in the blink of an eye. This has reverberated through all of our social media channels causing us to cycle through emotions from joy to outrage on a hourly-or more-basis. The effects of this cycle on our physical and mental wellbeing are not good. Maybe it's the jaw-clenching that gets you, like it does me, or maybe it's digestive issues, also me. Either way, these effects are happening to our bodies.
Yoga forces us to put this cycle on pause, if only for an hour.
When teaching beginners the etiquette of yoga studios, I begin with the number one faux-pas--your phone interrupting every students' yoga practices. This includes possibly the most precious of all, your own yoga practice.
I say this because I believe it. Our modern life has made our electronic devices a necessity. I use mine to stream the soundtrack of the classes I teach and manage the studio. The ability to substitute teachers from the my phone has allowed me to keep the studio flowing as smoothly as possible in the time of Covid. So have the amazing yogia teachers who teach at Jai Dee. And how did we communicate and arrange things, through our smart phones. My point is not to get rid of your phone, but to enjoy the time yoga forces you to set it aside.
Disconnecting isn't as easy as putting your phone down. Try sitting on your couch for very long without picking up your phone without even thinking. Before you are even aware of it, Instagram or Twitter is open and you've stop focusing on your main task at hand. Because of the way our modern work and personal lives are structured, it's a necessity to have our phones nearby at all times. Yoga gives us not just an opportunity to leave our phone aside for a while, but also the structure within which to do it.
I found yoga before the smart phone came to dominate our existence. I was living the last chapters of the first great adult relationship of my life. I was desperate for anything that would allow my awareness to rest on something other than that relationships imminent ending. The minutes I spent in yoga class were an escape from those thoughts and allowed me to just be. Unlike my relationship, there was no expectation of an outcome. Back then in the last days of the 20th Century, the immediate contact of texting and social media wasn't a reality yet, so the affects of yoga's ability to give us pause was longer. Today, it is even more necessary.
Our constant connection to the people and information we want is so fast, we forget it has to travel through space to get to us. Yoga gives us time--even if just an hour--to not worry about what's going on outside our immediate awareness. It allows us the space to tune into our body without interruption. When we slow down, tune out, and observe what is going on with our physical body, we are practicing self care.
Yoga and its etiquette force you to disconnect from your phone for only a relatively short period of time, but it will reverberate through your life. Time spent in yoga allows one to experience the benefits of focusing on the present. This experience on the mat can be carried off the mat leading to a more fulfilling life.