What Yoga is Good For

Needless to say, yoga has been found to be pretty beneficial. Scientists have learned about a great deal about the benefits of yoga, and they’re still discovering new ones everyday. (Here is a list of 54 health conditions benefited by yoga compiled by Dr. Timothy McCall, updated this month-Jan 2011. [PDF])

Different people get different things from their yoga practice, so I can’t speak for them. But for me, one thing, one big thing, that yoga is good for, is that it gives me a process, a technique, to work to cultivate my ability to pay attention.

As part of Generation Y, well known for our ability to talk, roll our eyes, and chew gum at the same time, I grew up honing the craft of multitasking. I do it well, and I like it. I won’t be quick to condemn multitasking. I’m grateful for certain times of multitasking, even, like driving and listening to NPR, or climbing with my headphones on.

The problem with multitasking is that I use it too much, and I single-task too little. It’s like any skill in life, when you don’t use it, you lose it. I’ve been reading the book The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, and the author, Dr. Tony Swartz says:

“Because a short attention span and fractured focus are now so widely accepted as the norm, we’ve failed to recognize that attention is a capacity that must be both intentionally trained and regularly renewed.”

So, I would say that my yoga practice helps me sit, and sitting is a way for me to intentionally train and regularly renew my capacity to pay attention for a prolong period. I’ve got a long way to go, and the uphill incline is steep. But, I guess it’s all about taking that proverbial first step.