The short answer is yes - in more ways than you can imagine. But here are at least three ways yoga can change your outlook on life.
Yoga Helps You to be Present
One of the most life-changing things that yoga teaches you is how to be in the present moment. By bringing together your mind, body and breathing, you learn how to anchor yourself in the moment. You learn to experience whatever is going on for you right now. For many people, this is a revelation. We spend so much time worrying about the future or ruminating on the past that we forget to be present. When we use yoga to become more mindful, we start to recognize how much we’ve been missing by not being here. In doing so, our outlook on life becomes calmer and appreciative of the lovely stuff that’s going on that we hadn’t even noticed of before. (Read more in 6 Techniques to Staying Present.)
Yoga Helps You to Accept
An often tough lesson from yoga is the lesson of acceptance. The second yama of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is santosha, which means “contentment." This might be easy to cultivate when life is good and everything is going according to plan, but yoga teaches us to find santosha even when things are difficult or not going as we want. We can practice this on the yoga mat when we wobble in tree pose, or don’t yet have the strength for chaturanga, or feel less flexible in forward folds than we did yesterday. We remind ourselves that even though our body may not be as flexible as we want it to be, it’s where we are and we can choose to embrace that anyway. When you take this outlook, you learn that suffering arises from our resistance to situations, rather than the situations themselves. It might not come naturally, but practicing santosha in all situations is a skill that can help you to feel happier, more relaxed and open. (Read more on santosha in Overcoming Loneliness.)
Yoga Helps You to Overcome Fears
Fear can be a healthy emotion, helping us to recognize and avoid danger. Yet, if we let it take over, fear limits us, potentially even holding us back from attempting things we want to do. Yoga provides multiple opportunities to face our fears. Take learning to do a handstand, for instance. Inversions bring up fear in many people and the prospect of falling can be a scary thing. But what if you changed your mindset from “I can’t do this” to, “Which bit of this can I do, at least?” Instead of skipping handstand, you may realize that you can take downward-facing dog and lift one leg. You might try an assisted L-shaped handstand with a wall. You may even be able to kick up to the wall, with a yoga bolster for extra cushioning and reassurance. Whatever the modification, when you shift to thinking about what you can do, you’ve already won a big part of the battle. This approach can help you to face all scary situations in life with more confidence and more courage. (Learn more in The Nature of Fear.)