Everyone experiences days when their temper short-circuits, and they can’t quite figure out how to be patient — whether it’s with their coworkers, kids or significant other. The occasional snap at a friend or family member is normal, of course. But that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable.
When you learn how to control your stress, you also learn how to be patient — or, at least, how to be more patient. One approach that many find useful is the regular practice of yoga. The ancient tradition might be the key to unlocking an extra supply of patience.
What Is Yoga?
If you’ve never set foot in a yoga studio before, you may not know much about the athletic endeavor and spiritual practice. Yoga wasn’t created specifically to teach practitioners how to be patient — it was a bit more complicated than that. When Indian healers designed yoga approximately 5000 years ago, it was to enhance the general wellbeing of anyone who practiced it — mind, body and soul.
Yoga is equal parts physical movement, internal meditation and focus. It takes many different forms, from classical hatha yoga to more contemporary iterations like hot power yoga. Regardless of which version you practice, it produces a slew of benefits.
How Can It Help You?
A calmer mind. A stronger body. A more compassionate mentality. These are just a few of the potential perks of practicing yoga regularly. If you’re concerned explicitly with growing your reservoir of patience, here are three ways yoga can help you to do it.
1. Slows the Mind
Modern people move at an advanced pace. You might rush from work to the gym to dinner, then straight into bed. You wake up the morning and follow your hasty routine all over again. When you stop, slow down and force your mind and body to do the same, it’s easier to have more patience with others.
You don’t have to go to a yoga studio to find your Zen. There are short, simple yoga sequences you can flow through right in your home without any prior experience. Use photos or videos online to guide you as you move through cat and cow pose, downward-facing dog, child’s pose and chaturanga dandasana — a mix of plank, cobra, and downward-facing dog — before trying a few standing poses such as tree and Warrior III.
2. Requires Grounding and Flexibility
When you come to your mat to practice yoga, you inevitably must bring some patience with you. And patience is like a muscle — the more you exercise it, the bigger it gets. Yoga creates a higher reservoir of patience every time you practice.
Your patience serves as the grounding force that helps you to clear your mind and focus on the poses. You might have to redirect your mind 30 times in the first few minutes, but if you’re patient, your focus will shift from the outside world to just your mat.
Patience also allows you the flexibility to set aside your to-do list and exercise.
3. Teaches Self-Love
Sometimes, impatience toward other people stems from impatience toward yourself. You might feel frustrated with how you react to a situation or maybe even frustrated with your level of physical strength. Regardless, a significant focus of yoga is to teach practitioners that they’re beautiful, inside and out. This self-love serves as a fount from which love and patience for others can freely flow.
Now that you know the basics of yoga and the reasons why it helps to improve patience, there’s only one thing left to do: Start practicing. Whether you try a YouTube video at home or start at a beginner class at your local studio, you might be surprised by the ways your capacity for patience increases every time you come to the mat.
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