Yoga is a physical, spiritual, and mental practice with roots back to the sixth century BCE. In Indian tradition, the practice is much more that a complementary exercise – it’s a deeply meditative practice and means by which to reach enlightenment. It exists in several forms, including Karma, Raja, and Mantra Yoga, each representing different practices by which to improve one’s health and spiritual wellness. It’s also often considered a sister practice to Ayurveda.

While the lessons of yoga are bountiful, here are 3 big lessons taught along the way.

Lesson 1: Stillness Inspires Peace of Mind

Much of yoga deals with analyzing life around you. Questions about morality, existence, and happiness are brought up in the literature of yoga, and if you’ve attended a few yoga classes, you’ve likely noticed this philosophy coming into the classroom. Among the chief lessons learned by this is the art of meditating on one idea, or on nothing at all, in order to grow understanding and attain peace of mind.

Here, one seeks to find stillness by moving away from thoughts and sensory experiences. No doubt, they will occur, but through practice, calming the mind and finding that mental “silence”can achieved. In practicing this, you’ll find that your mind is calmer throughout the day – more at peace.

Lesson 2: Physical Awareness

The physical practice of yoga is also enlightening for the awareness of body it teaches the mind. For many, this is one lesson of yoga is becomes almost immediately evident. Contorting your body in new ways, aligning breath with movement, and maintaining balance requires immense physical and mental concentration. Many instructors illustrate this by encouraging your to “feel” your body awakening in new ways, focusing concentration on specific muscles, joints, and parts of the body.

With yoga, you’re able to understand your body in new ways. This can be applied to every aspect of your life, from its incorporation into other physical activities to posture while at work. Being aware of where your body is tight, relaxed, or strained is one of the most valuable tools you can use to extend life, longevity, and your energy levels.

Lesson 3: A Path to Alignment

Yoga, in its holistic sense, also provides a path to alignment of body, mind, and spirit. By practicing Hatha yoga (the physical practice), you gain a greater sense of your body-mind connections; by practicing Karma yoga, the practice of having good actions and thought, you grow your love and connection with those around you; mantra yoga, the practice of repeating words, phrases, and thoughts, helps align your attitude to your beliefs; Jnana yoga, the practice of attaining wisdom, helps you accurately understand the world around you. With a devoted practice to each of these, yoga provides a truly holistic sense of enlightenment, understanding, and calmness.

Begin Your Journey

If you have yet to try yoga, consider these few lessons above. Begin reading, practicing, and immersing yourself in the philosophy, and perhaps signing yourself up for a yoga class at a local studio. In a short time, you’ll soon meet the Great Teach of Yoga.