7 Principles of Yoga That Can Make You a Better Person ...

As an avid yogi and student of five years now, I’ve progressed so much throughout my life by practicing the principles of yoga. Many times, when I have an inner confliction, I indulge in a yoga session to relieve stress and tension, and gain a new perspective on a situation. I also love doing yoga because it teaches me to try new things, embrace flexibility and it helps me treat my body with kindness. Try enhancing your life with some principles of yoga that I think you’ll not only benefit from, but also grow from. I know I certainly have.

1. Practice Patience

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One of the best principles of yoga that I have learned thus far is to practice more patience. Many times, I want to rush a pose in yoga or shorten the length of time I hold a pose. Yet, I learn that as I am made to stay in a certain pose, I not only learn patience, but also growth. I’m terribly impatient by nature, but yoga teaches me to be different. It is a wonderful way to apply your physical patience to your emotional patience. Stressed or angsty about making something happen? Take it to the mat and get your downward dog on.

2. Learn to Let Go

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Yoga is not about tense movements, or perfect form. Yes, form is very important in yoga, but it is more about learning to flow with your body and move in a way that teaches your body to let go. Unlike lifting weights, yoga is about freeing your body to glide fluidly through the movements. Let your body guide you into the movements and just let go. Much like dancing, yoga can lighten your mood, and help you learn to loosen up a bit. Life is short- don’t take yourself too seriously!

3. Accept Your Imperfections

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No one who starts out practicing yoga will be perfect at it. It takes years to achieve a perfect yoga practice, and that’s the point! Yoga teaches you to embrace your imperfections and just enjoy the growth process. Apply this to life and learn to continue to push yourself to grow, and always aim to achieve, but enjoy the process along the way. If you fall out of a pose or can’t stretch in ways you wish you could, it’s okay! Yoga isn’t about being perfect; it’s about growing through your imperfections.

4. Connect to Your Spirit

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I have a ritual I like to do when I practice yoga. I cover up all my mirrors, or practice in a room where I can’t see myself. Unlike weight training, this allows me to connect with only my spirit to guide me through the movements. I also like to do yoga in the dark or under low lighting as well. Not only does it help me relax, but helps me let go of everything else in my head, and just learn to connect with my spirit to teach my body to move. I always perform better this way as well. You can do this in silence, to relaxing music, or to a DVD video. Learning to connect with your spirit is so important. It prevents you from making decisions out of impulse, pressure from others, or from the wrong motivations. Connecting with your spirit helps you hear your inner voice, which gets drowned out so often in today's fast-paced, success driven world where we often lose ourselves in the name of money, crowded schedules and success.

5. Achieve New Goals

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Through yoga, you’ll always be wanting to try a new pose to perfect. You’ll also see that as long as you keep setting targets to master a certain pose or style of yoga that may be more difficult, you’ll consistently learn to set and achieve goals. This is a great principle of yoga to apply to your life. Sometimes we can get so burnt out that we just stop caring. Always looking towards the future for brighter, better goals keeps us motivated, happy and inspired.

6. Practice Kindness

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When I recovered from my eating disorder, and even right before, I loved how yoga helped me to be kinder to myself, my body and even to others. I came from a relationship with exercises that was obsessive, intense and unhealthy. Incorporating yoga, walking, Pilates and other calming exercises not only improved my mental attitude towards myself, but also toned my body better than other forms of exercise I tried before that left me in pain and stressed. Practice kindness and gentleness to yourself through yoga. It will help you be a more gentle, peaceful person, which also helps you be kinder towards others.

7. Be Gentle

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As I said, yoga creates a gentle spirit inside of you, or ignites a gentle spirit inside that already exists within you. Learning to be gentle on your body and not force yourself into certain movements also helps you learn to practice gentleness in life towards yourself. Don’t stay at your office 14 hours a day, live off 6 hours of sleep night after night, or maintain a constant ball of stress. Also, teach yourself not to get caught up in pleasing everyone, which is so hard for me! Learn to be more gentle to your spirit and your body by relaxing more and promoting calm throughout your life. You’ll be a much happier and healthier person too. The world will not end if you don’t attend everything you have on your agenda and accomplish everything in one single day. I promise!

If you’re new to yoga, be sure to find a good teacher that you enjoy. I like DVDs by Kathryn Budhig, which are fun, lighthearted, and challenging too. Tara Stiles is also another popular yoga teacher to try if you’re new to this practice. If you practice yoga, what is your favorite principle of the practice?

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