To me, yoga is health, and here I am talking about yoga as a whole, so postures, movement practice and meditation, all included.

The close link between yoga and health became really clear to me a couple of months ago. By the way, I am in no way a super-healthy person. It is more that my health has improved without me changing anything! Except for one thing though: I have decided I am healthy. Here are a few things that have happened recently and which have made me realise something is different:

My dentist tells me my gums and teeth are in better condition now than a year ago, and I don’t eat, drink or brush differently. The acupuncturist I see regularly tells me I am healthier than I used to be – yes, it is fantastic to allow oneself an hour of calmness – it has probably had its effects! My hairdresser says my hair has improved. And of course I can see things for myself. I have noticed that my skin and nails are better, and I also feel really well. I got injured during a fall a few weeks back, and I just overdid walking with super flat shoes on hard surface and had something happen to my knee. But overall, I just know I am healthier.

With no particular changes in my life – no change in diet, still too few hours of sleep than what is recommended, challenges in life coming up regularly (as we all experience), and same amount of yoga and meditation every week – I firmly believe this improvement of health comes from stress levels coming down and down thanks to my daily yoga practice. Which means: I am allowing my nervous system to do its real job. That is, to take care of my body.

With yoga or meditation in your life your stress levels will go down, and you will find yourself more often in the rest and relax mode of your nervous system (the parasympathetic nervous system). This is giving goodness straight to your body. You are allowing your nervous system to take care of areas in the body that needs fixing! This will make you will feel better, and feeling good will give you better health. You will spend less time worrying about your problems and what’s not working in your life. So less stress and more time for your body’s nervous system to do what it is supposed to do: making sure the body gets repaired where needed.

Apparently most Westerners find themselves in the fight flight mode of their nervous system 70% of their day (the sympathetic nervous system). That equals to super-short time for the body to heal itself and be healthy and well. Lowering stress levels is possible for all of us, but most of us need to do something different to make it happen, such as introducing a regular yoga/meditation practice into our lives.

Why not try it for yourself? I teach yoga in Wimbledon and will be starting up my regular yoga and mindfulness classes in September. There will be two additional yoga classes at The Wimbledon Club on Wednesday 21st and 28th of August (9.30am) in addition to Sunday outdoor yoga classes before school term starts. Come join me if you are around!

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Annette Wiik

My name is Annette. I am a Yoga Academy Certified Teacher (BWY-Accredited School) and started practising Hatha Yoga over 20 years ago. Holding a certificate from Bangor University to teach mindfulness-based courses, I incorporate my knowledge of mindfulness meditation in all my yoga classes. I have two grown-up children.