By Carrie Vittitoe
There is no doubt that participating in a yoga session can make you feel relaxed. Slow-tempo music, stillness, and stretching can help a person regain a sense of inner calm. However, Shelli Carpenter, co-owner of Eternal Health Yoga, says consistency is the key to making yoga have long-term health benefits, such as reductions in blood pressure, improved flexibility, and increased lung capacity. “Having a consistent yoga practice is where the benefits come in,” she says.
Consistent yoga practice is really part of an entire lifestyle. Doing an occasional class might make you feel better for an hour or even a day, but if you eat poorly, smoke, get minimal sleep, and don’t drink enough water, the long-term benefits will likely stay out of reach.
Shelli, who is studying for a master’s degree in the Traditions of Yoga and Meditation at SOAS University of London, says yoga “was a spiritual practice originally, to still the mind and reach a higher level of enlightenment.” She says flexibility, heart health, and stress relief are the side effects of a spiritual lifestyle.
One of the most beneficial aspects of yoga is that “it causes people to become aware of things that aren’t good for them,” Shelli says. Yoga practitioners develop a deeper sense of awareness about what their body and heart need to feel good.