If there is one thing that you could do just for yourself—purely and selfishly for yourself—consider yoga.
As the joke goes, "Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy a yoga class, and it's basically the same thing!"
Seriously, though, it will be the most profound investment you will make.
BKS Iyengar was right when he said, "Yoga is like music: the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life."
Why? Here are 10 reasons why you should explore yoga.
1. Not to lose weight, but to get to your optimum weight
When you start a yoga practice you will see your weight fall, gradually, to what is right for your body. And then it will stay there, even if you increase your yoga time. Because yoga works with your body to find what's right for you.
Weight loss is a consequence.
2. To start listening to your body, its needs, its pace and its importance
Once you become aware of the most incredible machine that is your body, you will find yourself stretching on your own, in a weird way, in the middle of an asana, just because it felt right. Later, if you look up, what you did instinctively, it will probably be an asana. You see, your body guides you to what it needs.
Self-healing becomes a consequence.
3. To accept yourself as you are
Yoga makes you aware of the uniqueness that is only you in the whole universe. You slowly rise from the rat race and create your own goals. After that, you are not bothered by others' judgements, opinions and rules. You create your own life.
Accepting others is a consequence.
4. To be patient
Each asana takes effort and time to master, just like everything else in life. You will gradually see the rewards as you become more flexible, breathe deeper, have more rested heartbeats, less white hair/wrinkles and a looser waistband. You will drive slower and enjoy the music more.
Accepting life is a consequence.
5. To learn self-control
You inculcate discipline/ habit/exercise in your daily life. You learn the union of mind and body. They say, the mind is the lord of the body. Guess what, the breath is the master of the mind!
Good health becomes a consequence.
6. To just BE
Try sitting still for one minute without your email, Facebook, WhatsApp or Candy Crush (or whatever is the rage these days). Are you able to? Did you fidget? Are you ok with just the sound of your breathing? If you can, then please discard this article right away. If not, start practicing now.
Mindfulness is a consequence.
7. To be still—physically, emotionally and consciously
When you do that, your creativity and productivity will bloom. You will develop ideas you didn't know you were capable of. You will find new capabilities and dimensions in your personality.
Success becomes a consequence.
8. To heal
Your body and mind have taken wear and tear to a degree that you are unaware of. Yoga fast-tracks healing by increasing blood and oxygen supply to vital organs.
A longer life is a consequence.
9. To be happy
Yoga stimulates the production of hormones that give you a sense of happiness and well-being. When this becomes are baseline, you are bound to stay away from bad habits and influences.
A good life is a consequence.
10. To be a better person
With patience and a sense of inner well-being, you become a better spouse, parent, sibling, worker, manager and friend. You drop judgements and inhibitions when you drop onto the yoga mat. With deeper breaths, you form deeper perspective on relationships, priorities and the world in general. You become humble and grateful, giving and receiving freely.
A wholesome life is a consequence.
That yoga has umpteen benefits for physical and mental health is now mainstream knowledge. The asanas are meant to exercise your whole body, right from your head to your small toe. What's more, anyone—whether they are five or ninety-five—can do some form of yoga, since it is usually a gentle process. You will never hear a yoga teacher say, "Get down and give me 10 more pronto." You'll probably hear soft music and smell incense in your class, all combining to create a rejuvenating experience.
"Yoga is not about the shape of your body, but the shape of your life. Yoga is not to be performed, it is to be lived. Yoga doesn't care what you have been; it cares about the person you are becoming."—Aadil Palkhivala
P.S. I am not a yoga teacher. I am just a learner. I have learnt wherever, whenever and from whomever I could. It's been 10 years but there is still so much knowledge to be gained!