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Jun 15, 2017

Healthy Living: The Surprising Benefits of Yoga

As the celebration of International Day of Yoga approaches, a number of people are looking forward to taking advantage of a first time experience at the multiple gatherings planned for Saturday. There are a number of benefits, both mental and physical, that have been tied to the practice of yoga; but there are a few that are less talked about that people only realize after they start the practice. In tonight’s Healthy Living, we speak to one yoga instructor about the unexpected benefits her students have experienced.

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Om Shanti Belize first opened in February 2014. Owner and operator Michelle Williams has been promoting the practice of yoga for the multitude of benefits it can have on the mind and body; hoping Belizeans would give it a try. Three years later, Williams says she’s definitely seen a growing interest.

 

Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams, Owner/Operator of Om Shanti Belize

“One of the things I noticed of the bat, is that the interest from men. We have sometimes four men in our class and these are of all ages of all body types so men are actually finding the benefits of yoga and that’s encouraging.  The medical profession is actually promoting the science of yoga. We have medical science, we have science based evidence that’s backed that we can use when we promote yoga and yoga practices. So we have that. And because of that people are being referred to come to yoga classes for different ailments, physical, maybe stress reduction. There’s definitely a wider array of people.”

 

Through the nonprofit Rhythm of Change that works to spread yoga and mindfulness across Belize, Williams and other yoga instructors have even been invited to work in the prison and the youth hostel. Within her classes at Om Shanti, though, students have been able to recognize the lesser known benefits of yoga when off the mat. For those who are still on the fence about trying yoga, we asked Williams to share some of these experiences.

Michelle Williams

“Someone said to me “Michelle yoga actually kinda like saved my marriage” and the person was very honest and very open and was very sincere in the comment and I asked her to give me reason how this has happened. And she basically said she has learned to access her parasympathetic nervous system. Of course she didn’t say it like that she said “I’m calmer and less reactive and that’s one of the things that yoga does. So instead of always reacting to a situation or maybe an area of conflict she was able to – she learned and organically so to take a step back to breathe access that system calm down press pause and so there’s less conflict in her marriage. I’ve heard people express the advantages in the bedroom. It’s the more you practice yoga. The more you become more confident in your body. You have more body awareness. Flexibility also help.  Scientifically, yoga helps to promote the release of hormones; so, you’ll find that men the production of blood to the different genital areas.; for men that helps with erections for women it helps with lubrication and also yoga in general strengthens the pelvic floor which increases the enjoyment of an orgasm.”

 

In addition to the benefit within relationships; another area students see improvement is in their eating habits and digestion.

 

Michelle Williams

“Also with overeating or stress eating, yoga promotes mindfulness. It is a mindful practice. So you learn really to eat slower, to be more mindful of what you’re eating, to be mindful of your breath and to be mindful of why you’re eating, why you have these cravings, why you feel like stuffing your face and again you’re able to press pause. Digestion for sure. There are specific asanas that are directly related to digestion and of course if you have poor digestion or slow digestion you find as though your energy is really low because all your energy is going into your body digesting your food. If you’re digestion is faster and is working at optimum levels, you’re energy goes into how you can use throughout the day.”

 

Tapping into the mindfulness of the practice has even helped the creative process for some of her students as well.

 

Michelle Williams

“When you’ve got mental clarity, you’re able to be more creative. You’re not so overloaded with chatter in your mind. So you’re able to be more creative, more open more expressive and through yoga comes confidence and when you’re confident you’re able to express yourself in a courageous manner.”

 

While more than a workout, yoga is fundamentally a practice of mind, body and spirit connection. The United Nations has declared June twenty-first as International Day of Yoga and for the past couple years Belize has been one of the one hundred and fifty countries that celebrates it. Williams invites all Belizeans – those who practice and those willing to give it a try – to come out and share in their celebration on Saturday. Across the country, in Belize City, Placencia, San Pedro, Punta Gorda and Corozal, yogis will converge in one location to commemorate the day.

Michelle Williams

“All the events start at eight a.m. They are free and we asked that you bring comfortable clothes, a towel and an open mind and positive energy.  Come out and try one class. See how it is for you. I always say that I always draw from the five agreements and one of the five agreements is never make an assumption. Always check it first. Do your own research experience it and if you’re assumption is right then you’ve done the research. If it’s not then you’re missing out on a whole lot of benefits and an enjoyment a practice that can really improve yourself and your family life.”

 

You can find the details of this weekend’s event at International Day of Yoga Belize’s Facebook page.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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