12 BENEFITS OF PRACTICING YOGA
People often tell me that they want to try yoga but don’t because they aren’t “flexible enough,”
I tell them yoga isn’t about attaining the perfect pose.
Poses can always be modified or props added to support where needed to help you feel comfortable in your own body.
It’s not about being “good enough” or “right”.
Yoga is about letting go of judgement and allowing us to be present to who we are now.
I may be biased being a yoga teacher-but there are SO many positive outcomes of yoga that everybody can benefit from…
1. STRESS RELIEF
Yoga reduces stress and anxiety, which in turn reduces the physical effects of stress on the body.
By encouraging relaxation, yoga helps to lower the levels of the stress hormones which send the body into flight or fight mode.
Other related benefits include lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion and boosting the immune system.
2. RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW
In our busy lives we spend the majority of our time thinking about the past or the future (regretting, worrying, planning), or submerging ourselves entirely in social media.
Yoga helps us to unplug and learn to switch off from frantic thoughts about the future or past and focus on what’s going on in your body right now and find an inner peace.
Happiness can only be found here and now.
Yoga is a full-body workout, which targets all the muscles of the body with both static holds and dynamic movement.
You’re supporting your own body weight, which builds functional strength in areas where you really need it.
4. BETTER SLEEP
When we are less stressed we sleep better, and when we sleep better we are less stressed!
Physical activity and mental relaxation fuel this positive cycle.
A variety of studies have shown that yoga can improve sleep quality and quantity in people struggling with insomnia too.
5. INCREASED MOBILITY & FLEXIBILITY
Flexibility is often discussed in yoga, but what’s really important in our daily lives is mobility – the functional flexibility that makes it easier for you to complete everyday movements that require kneeling, bending or reaching – or maybe just cleaning the house!
Yoga increases your functional mobility so that you can bring more ease to your movement and don’t feel so stiff in your body.
This increase in mobility and the process of regularly stretching and lengthening muscles during yoga practice also helps to prevent muscular injuries-great if you have active hobbies like running or cycling.
Physical activity stimulates the organs and muscles, which helps them to carry out their functions and detox the body.
Also breathing techniques used in yoga such as Deep yogic breathing improve the function of the lungs.
Any sweating too is a great detox function for the body!
7. GET TO KNOW YOUR BODY
We only get one body to live in, shouldn’t you get to know it better?
Yoga enables us to focus upon what our body is feeling right now.
Where are your legs and arms? What are they doing? Which muscles are active?
This practice develops you skills of proprioception, which in turn leads to things like better posture and better balance.
In addition to helping us relax, deep breathing has been proven to physiologically impact the heart, brain, digestion, immune system — and maybe even the expression of genes.
Deep breathing also alkalinizes the body, keeping it balanced in its naturally slightly alkalinized state.
Helping the body to become more alkaline is important in our modern lives.
Acidity in our bodies is on the rise as environmental stressors, pesticides in foods, sugary foods, and air pollution become more rife.
Learning and practicing breathing techniques in yoga can help to right these imbalances within the body.
Try a yogic breathing technique:
Pranayama are breathing exercises in yoga.
One of these is Nadi shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, is a simple technique that we can use in addition to asana.
Nadi means “channel,” and shodhana means “cleansing” or “purifying.”
It is said that it cleanses the left and right sides of the brain and balances Yin and Yang energy.
Helping to reduce stress, lower the heart rate and prepare, the body for meditation.
1. Find a comfortable seated position, perhaps crossed legged in -Sukhasana (Easy Pose), or sit on a blanket or pillow. Create a nice long spine by lifting from the crown of the head. Rest your left palm on your left knee, moving your right hand towards the nose.
2. Using the right thumb, softly close the right nostril, and inhale as slowly as you can through the left nostril, then close it with your ring finger. Pause. Open and exhale slowly through the right nostril.
3. With the right nostril open, inhale slowly, then close it with the thumb. Pause. Exhale through the left nostril. Once your exhalation is complete, inhale through the left. Pause before moving to the right.
4. Repeat this pattern five to ten times, and then release the right hand to the right knee. Ease back into normal breathing.
9. TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT?
Yoga is exercise, and you do burn calories doing yoga.
Even slower styles of yoga such as Yin yoga can help you to control your weight by reducing stress, helping to bring mindfulness to your eating habits, and providing a heightened sense of well-being and self-esteem.
10. BETTER POSTURE
By combining core strengthening with core mobility and proprioception, yoga helps to improve posture.
When we have good posture it can reduce anxiety, improve productivity, reduce back pain, and also helps us to breathe better.
11. IMPROVED CONCENTRATION
Distractions and ‘multi-tasking’ are commonplace in our modern lives.
Concentration is being able to calmly move your focus from many things at once to one thing at a time and not get stressed whilst doing so.
In yoga we turn our focus inward to the body, raising awareness of the breath and the emotional and physical feelings we feel throughout the yoga practice.
This helps to teach our minds to focus upon one thing at a time.
If you observe your breath, it will slow down, as the breathing slows down, the mind will too.
Over time practicing how to focus and build concentration will shift you into a restful but aware state, this meditation recharges the mind and can help with enhanced brain power and creativity.
Yoga practice encourages us to approach new and challenging situations with curiosity and playfulness instead of ego and frustration.
Being adults we rarely attempt new things, like balancing on our hands or spending time with our legs up against the wall.
Taking on physical, mental and emotional challenges as part of a ‘practice’ helps us develop a ‘child mind’… where we are less goal-oriented and living life in the moment.
So there you go 12 FANTASTIC reasons to give Yoga a go - Enjoy!
Re-Root Yoga xx
Sally Anker is a qualified yoga instructor based in The New Forest with experience teaching different styles of yoga and helping students with a diverse range of needs and aims.
Get in touch today!