The most important benefits of yoga on your body and mind!
“We have to learn to love what’s good for us.”
This applies to so many things in life, but especially for exercise, it’s probably truer than true.
I’ve talked with people who hated exercise, who just couldn’t stand sweating, who could make up millions of excuses in order to avoid a 30-minute workout. Until someone – a friend, a family member, their doctor, their own strong will – talked them into adding exercise to their lives. And they slowly started realizing the benefits. They felt the results on their bodies and their health. And now they’re hooked.
That’s what learning to love what’s good for you is all about.
Exercise, like all healthy living aspects, is a personalized choice. Each and every one of us has their own favorites. What works for your friend doesn’t necessarily work for you. And how will you know what works for you? Simply by trial and error. Not everyone is cut out for running and not all of us will fall in love with kickboxing. But how will you know if you don’t try it?
There are innumerable options of exercise that you can choose. Some will seem appealing from the very beginning and some will get rejected on the spot. But there is one type of exercise that you really have to try, if you haven’t already.
There are some common misconceptions about yoga even among people who would like to try it. Some of them think that it’s only for super-flexible people and unimaginably fit yogis who can easily twist their bodies in and out of a knot! Others think that yoga is a really low-intensity workout that doesn’t raise the heart rate, so it has no benefits for our cardiovascular system. Although these two statements can be true to some extent for some specific yoga workouts, they are definitely not general truths about yoga.
There are many types of yoga for different fitness levels, different ages and different levels of expertise. And if you think of its intensity as a walk in the park, I can reassure you that some yoga workouts can get you drenched in sweat and drive your heart rate through the roof!
I’m sure you’ve read articles with millions of reasons on why to try yoga. And there are countless benefits, for sure. But the most important reasons are the ones that we can really feel on our bodies. The changes that we can experience and love. The things that will make us realize that yoga is good for us and we need to learn to love it.
Do you believe that you were just not born flexible?
Partially, you‘re right… Flexibility is a characteristic that people are carrying into their genes. Some are born with the qualities of an elastic band and some others are simply unbendable. Luckily most of us are somewhere in between. And as years go by our flexibility slowly descends if we don’t try to preserve it.
But don’t rush to label yourself as “stiff”. Flexibility can be improved. And yoga is the best flexibility training you can find. As you probably know, yoga poses force the body to maintain a specific position that usually keeps muscles stretched. This improves the muscle’s ability to extend. That’s one of the reasons why yoga is considered an excellent type of warm-up and cool-down by many athletes.
If you’ve been looking for a way to strength-train without gym equipment and without spending money on weights and dumbbells, look no further. Yoga works miracles on your muscle strength! Just a few sessions of yoga and you’ll discover muscles you never knew you had. Soreness will hit you hard but don’t worry, it’s temporary. The reward will be the strong, long, lean muscles of your dreams.
How long can you stand on one leg? Let’s try it!
Stand, with your feet together and bring your hands in front of your chest in prayer position. Looking straight ahead, slowly lift one foot from the ground and bring it slightly in front as if you are about to make a step. Try to keep your balance there. All good? Now close your eyes and try to keep your balance for longer.
Easy? Great! Kind of difficult? Your balance needs a little bit of work. Like flexibility, it can be tremendously improved with proper training. And yoga workouts usually have a set of exercises specifically designed to improve your balance.
How easily can you focus on a task without being constantly distracted by your own thoughts? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It happens to most people nowadays and it’s a consequence of the crazy rhythms of our daily living. We’re all trying to be better at multi-tasking, not realizing that it wreaks havoc with our ability to concentrate. And this is something you’ll immediately realize if you start yoga. Concentration is crucial for most of the poses and sequences and if you let your mind drift, so will your body. By practicing yoga, you get the extra benefit of practicing concentration and gradually you really get the hang of it again.
5. Peace of mind
This is probably the benefit mostly attributed to yoga. And also the one most difficult for some people to believe. But if you think about it, it’s just the consequence of all the above things that we already talked about. When your body starts getting strong and flexible, when you achieve balance of the body and the mind and when you regain your lost sense of concentration, inner peace is inevitable. All the above benefits of yoga combined with a tranquil environment, calming music and the company of people who are in search of the same qualities in a workout as you are, can lead you to a better understanding of yourself and your thoughts and even if meditation was not among your goals, you’ll probably experience it.
If one or all of the above things are important to you, then you must try yoga. And if it seems difficult or feels weird at first, give it a second chance. Allow some time for it to unwrap the gifts it has for you and your body.
What are your experiences from yoga if you have tried it?
And if you haven’t, do you think those reasons are good enough to make you think about it?
I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below!