Yoga in its root form has been around for centuries. The traditional practice consists of '8 Limbs', or components that include, but are not limited to, asana (the physical practice), pranayama (breath practice) and various forms of meditation. Many of us when referring to yoga are talking about just one of those elements - the physical practice - which continues to shift and evolve from tradition with many new styles emerging. While many of these styles receive criticism for ‘westernising’ the practice, I’m a big believer in the benefits of yoga, however you get on the mat.
While many begin yoga for its known positive impact on strength and flexibility, the impact of a regular practice on the mind is gaining greater awareness, both scientifically and socially.
Science tells us that our happy neurotransmitters increase by 27 per cent after a single class. Meaning? Yoga is both a calming and mood-boosting activity. Plus, just 27 minutes of mindfulness per day actually shrinks the amygdala (the brain’s fight-or-flight centre) and strengthens its connection to the pre-frontal cortex helping to settle the stress-response in triggering moments.
“The breathing techniques in yoga activate the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation.”
Mindfulness is a pretty massive buzzword. But I think we’ve all had the experience of being here but not being here; of talking with someone and thinking about something else; of getting home with no memory of the drive. Yoga encourages us to fully experience the present moment and let it go once it’s passed. For many students (myself included), this is a huge gift. It can be easy to get stuck reliving and over-analysing the past or creating undue anxiety around the future. Yoga helps to shift those habitual thought-patterns, creating more ease and generating more positivity.
I remember my first class. I kept falling out of a pose, angry and embarrassed I wasn’t ‘good enough’ to hold it. I see this in students all the time; the negative self-talk that follows us through our lives tends to show up on the mat, and as we’re focusing on the present moment we can really listen to how we treat ourselves.
Yoga becomes a great place to practice a new way of being, as the more we practice compassion, for example, the stronger the neural pathway becomes making compassion a more naturally-occurring response. It’s no surprise then that people start yoga for the body and keep coming back for the mind. The benefits of a regular practice go way beyond the studio with the power to generate fundamental and positive shifts in our life.
Having learned yoga from world-renowned teachers Baron Baptiste and Paige Elenson, Renee Canzoneri has since combined her passion for yoga and her understanding of self-development to lead classes, run global retreats, and train teachers. Currently living in Melbourne, Renee teaches at Happy Melon Studios in Melbourne.