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by Angie Newson
A Yoga and Pilates Expert
Yoga offers us wonderful benefits: simply put - improved flexibility, enhanced strength, defined body tone and the chance of relaxation - even if it's only ten minutes' peace and quiet at the end of a class (and for some, a little snooze time!) However the more you practise, the more you'll learn that yoga is so much more than this. Yoga, amongst many other things, can help build self-esteem and confidence and is a brilliant tool to cultivate inner calm and peace, self-acceptance and self-worth.
Surrounding yourself in a class full of positive people, in a safe and non-competitive environment will help you to be brave to let go of the need to be perfect. It really doesn't matter what you look like or if you can or can't touch your toes. It is far more beneficial to your mental health to just show up, slow down, focusing on the breath to become present and becoming more mindful and aware of your senses.
Forget about 'not being good enough' - being on the mat regularly promotes enhanced strength not only physically but emotionally as well and powerful postures such as Mountain pose and Warrior l/ll help build spiritual resilience and self-assurance resulting in increased energy levels and improved sleep. With regular practice, improved flexibility and muscle definition will result in you looking fabulous on the outside and in turn you will feel beautiful on the inside. Feeling beautiful on the inside helps you feel amazing on the outside - regardless of what size or shape you are or what your postures look like. It doesn't matter if your asanas don't replicate the pictures in the book today.
Be courageous to confidently come out of the pose when you need to and learn when to go to your edge but not past it. Yoga teaches us we can evolve and grow, and getting to truly know and love ourselves will help release any negativity we have about our self-image. Adding a meditation practice aids the shedding of the ego so you are able to completely be at peace, 'noticing' any thoughts - allow these thoughts to flow along an imaginary river leaving you to tune in to your internal environment of pure joy, even if only for a few minutes at first.