Yoga By Mercedes Aspland / July 27, 2013 I thought I would share with you the affect that yoga has had on my life and hopefully give you some advice to get the most out of your yoga practise. So the main question has to be why did I start practising yoga in the first place. Well basically in 2007 my alcoholic father committed suicide and it sort of tipped my whole world upside down. I realised I was suffering from stress and depression and I was looking for a way to deal with this. I initially started my yoga practise at home from DVDs that were specifically designed for stress relief and this saw me doing something once a week. As I developed I would practise 20 minutes of yoga before bed and follow a routine that was put together to help with relaxation and to reduce insomnia. Eventually a gym opened within walking distance from where I lived and at the end of 2010 I began yoga classes there, for the first year just going once a week. I have gradually increased my practise to 4 times a week. So what effect has all this had on my life? The answer to that is it has completely changed the way I think and feel. This was a gradual process and I did not notice it happening but if I look at myself now then I can hardly identify with the person I was 6 years ago. My stress levels are much lower and I have learned to live in the present moment a lot more meaning I experience a lot more happiness. My life now revolves around the things that I enjoy doing and I guess the biggest thing would be a sense of contentment within me that I have probably not felt since I was a little kid. It is something that is hard to describe on an emotional level and I know that I am still on the journey to enlightenment but rather than it being a struggle it is now a joy. On a more practical level I have also made significant changes to my life that have developed from my practise and the way I feel. Over the last 3 years I have lost weight, total changed my diet so that it is a lot more healthy than it ever has been. I now think about what I eat and the benefits of eating it, things I would have snacked on in the past, like a bag of crisps, are now no longer desirable to me. Even more significantly, in February this year I decided to give up smoking and I gradually cut down a limited my smoking, then on 12th April I stopped and have not gone back. The strange thing about this is unlike other smokers I have no interest in smoking anymore. I am always progressing and am now working more on self-help and improving my emotions further through daily habits of meditation, visualisations and affirmations. I now know that things are in my control and how to get pleasure from everything that I do. If you are thinking about taking up yoga then it is worth knowing that it brings your mind and body in line. As you gain more strength and flexibility in your body the same thing happens in your mind and life becomes so much more enjoyable. Take time with your practise and make sure you focus on staying present in the moment. Once you get the hang of this you will not look back. Most of all enjoy your practise, love yourself and appreciate where you are in your journey.