It has been known for many years that yoga is a great way to improve your physical and emotional state. Many people are still afraid of starting to practice it or think that it is not suitable or acceptable for them.
Ugne Butinaviciute is a yoga teacher for beginners. She is convinced that there’s nothing to be afraid of, and people should consider the various benefits of practicing yoga instead.
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Yoga is not just physical activity. As Butinaviciute puts it, her yoga journey began rather early, but now it has morphed into teaching others and not just looking for personal gain.
"When I was a kid, I had a nanny who used to listen to the On Namah Shivaya mantra when cooking or cleaning. I keep catching myself humming the melody to this day. She was the one who got me into yoga, and I attended my first class at the age of 12. I had been attending different yoga classes since that time and two years ago I completed international yoga teachers’ courses and became a certified teacher," she said.
According to Butinaviciute, even though yoga has numerous benefits, for her the most important one is relaxation.
"Sometimes you feel tired and fatigued, but right after a yoga class you are refreshed. The body is moving, but the thoughts relax, and eventually the body relaxes, too, after meditating, and stress and negative thoughts are released," she shared.
Even though many may think that yoga is just another form of physical activity, Butinaviciute suggests looking for a deeper meaning.
"Yoga should be understood not just as physical activity, but also as meditation, breathing control (pranayama), ethical behaviour and spirituality, having the goal of integrating your physical, mental, and spiritual elements. I think that consistent yoga practice helps to achieve a state of harmony and balance which may improve self-awareness. Yoga helps connect the body, mind, and spirit, leading to a deeper understanding. That’s why I believe that yoga is a great way to get to know yourself and your soul better," she continued.
Benefits of yoga
The effect of yoga on self-awareness and emotional state is undoubtedly huge. Butinaviciute agrees with such an assessment.
"The majority of yoga types include conscious breathing. Conscious breathing may help relax the sympathetic nervous system, which activates during stress, and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxation. Also yoga often involves meditation, which may help decrease stress and anxiety. Meditation especially helps people become more conscious and control their thoughts, feelings, and reactions better," the yoga teacher explained.
But she also added that people should not neglect the importance of physical activity; therefore, yoga is one of those practices which encompass miscellaneous benefits to the human body. "Physical activity may promote the release of endorphins, the so-called happiness hormones, which may improve the mood and decrease stress. Also yoga prompts people to pay attention to and identify their body’s signals. This may help people become more conscious towards their emotional states because they learn to understand how their emotional states affect their body," she noted.
Even though Butinaviciute admits that there’s no single miraculous treatment for all ailments, yoga may help lower the risk of developing a mental disorder. "Getting to know yourself via various practises really helps. Yoga allows you to understand your body better, teaches how to calm your thoughts, and feel yourself. All this may help alleviate anxiety and facilitate psychological recovery," she said.
Fears are of our own making
Yoga, just like many other wellness-promoting activities, is still often surrounded by various false myths or collated with other complex physical exercises. According to Butinaviciute, since she’s teaching yoga to beginners, she also hears all kinds of opinions that hamper confidence.
"Usually, people think that they are very stiff and won’t be able to do yoga poses, but that’s what beginner yoga is for. We learn to do simple poses, and, if needed, I can adapt them to everybody’s different capabilities," she said.
Butinaviciute also mentioned that some people were still afraid to come to yoga classes alone, without friends or relatives.
"Again, yoga teachers always warmly welcome everyone. If you are shy or can’t do a pose, just tell your teacher, and they will adapt the poses, so there’s nothing to be afraid of," Butinaviciute assured. Sure, you can find numerous instructional videos online and practice yoga in the comfort of your home, but Butinaviciute has an advice for beginners: "I think that beginners should learn proper technique in order to avoid injury; therefore, at first it is useful to attend live yoga classes, and later you can do it alone or while watching online classes."
Worth giving a try
The global cult of healthy living sometimes makes you forget that living a healthy life and feeling great is not just trendy, but also beneficial. The daily routine and lack of rest and time for yourself often is more exhausting than any physical activity, thus it is worth remembering that whatever we invest in the betterment of ourselves will definitely pay dividends in terms of our physical and mental health.
"Yoga is not necessarily standing on you head and doing splits, it can also be a brief stretch to start the day or calm your body in the evening. Such routines help concentrate on yourself and spend more time focused on your body and thoughts – something we often forget in our daily lives. So it can be a small ritual that helps to relax," Butinaviciute concluded.