Yoga is often a science of misconception. What I thought yoga was about when I started practising many years ago has changed many times over the years and in fact the whole idea of yoga is open to interpretation. Having said that everyone can find something they need in yoga whether it is toning and flexibility, a calm mind or stronger mind, undestanding thoughts an feelings, a complement to their sporting regime, better mental health, focus and concentration, physical and emotional balance, spiritual fulfilment etc etc. or they may want all of these things.
I started when I was preparing for my GCE's at school when a fellow pupil told me a friend of theirs only needed 2 hours sleep and had amazing concentration skills because of yoga. I was impressed and curious and wondered if yoga could do the same for me. I wasn't totally sure whether to believe the sleep thing but some adults at the time said it definitley had a connection with calmness and relieving nervous tension which I had loads of! I just had to try it. I must say that very early on I felt a bit special knowing that I was now a "yogi" practising this ancient mystical discipline and revealed it only to those very close to me. They thought it was just a phase I was going through. Well, many years later I'm still with it.
Yoga definitely helped me through my GCE's then later A Levels and subsequent examinations by practising the postures, the breathing, relaxation and meditation. If not at the time, I probably came to realize much later how it all worked. How the postures began to make me feel physically more comfortable. The relaxation putting me on better terms with my feelings and emotions and the meditation bringing the incredible benefits of sitting in stillness. That also impoved my patience! The breathing sort of glued everything together.
The greatest thing of all at that time when under the control of a structured school and later college regime and still at home under parental house rules so to speak, was that yoga began to give me a growing sense of self empowerment. When I was in a tight corner in class, in the exam room or with the occasional family or friend confrontation I could just connect with my breath and find that calm abiding that all the great yoga sages talk about. It takes daily practice over time but it gets stronger. Cultivating that growong sense of physical awareness and the subtle power of the breath and stillness can help your own yoga practice evolve in a personal and individual way.
You get on better terms with feelings and emotions and the continuous self enquiry improves the relationship you have with yourself and this translates onto relationshigps with others. You see things coming that bit quicker than the next person, you become less reationary and you begin to get over those day to day mini traumas more quickly so you can get on with your life in a more positive and creative way.
So try yoga. By all means try it to get more toned, flexible and strong. To get calmer and more focused. To improve concentration. As a psycholigical buttress. But always remember that thread that runs through all practice that thread of self empowerment. Yoga can be that life long friend and rock from hereon in. The one nobody else sees but can sense it in your demeanour and the way you deal with life.