Are you looking for a physical pursuit that provides you with the feel-good high of instant gratification, while also enriching your life in the long run? Yoga could be the answer to your practical wellness prayers. There's a reason why this ancient practice has taken the western world by storm, and that's because it's benefits are seemingly endless.
Although adopting a daily yoga practice might seem intimidating at first, it's actually one of the most universally accessible exercises available. Yoga classes are available in private studios, gyms, and even online for free. All you need to begin reaping the feel-good benefits of yoga is yourself and a mat. Feeling intrigued? Here are a few of the transformational benefits of yoga that you can start enjoying as soon as today.
Decrease Stress and Anxiety
One of the most profound effects of yoga, and one that many new yogis notice after just one class, is a calmer, clearer mind. Yoga gives us a rare opportunity to seek asylum from the chaotic outside world and go deep within. Mindfulness, or being present in the moment, is one of the pillars of a traditional yoga practice; which incorporates elements of meditation. The ability to silence and control unwanted thoughts is a skill that can be harnessed through training and intention during your yoga practice and will continue to benefit your mental health long after you roll up your mat.
Another way that yoga notably decreases stress is by giving special attention to how we breathe. When we become tense, we often take short and shallow breaths, which can exacerbate anxiety. Yoga trains us to take long, slow, and purposeful breaths, using the full capacity of our lungs and diaphragm, which provides an instant soothing effect.
Another piece of yoga's anxiety inhibiting puzzle is the movements themselves. Specific yogic postures, such as child's pose, are known to have a profoundly calming effect on the central nervous system, which is comprised of our spinal cord and brain and is responsible for controlling most functions of the mind and body. This trifecta of mindfulness, deep breathing, and self-massaging postures have been proven to provide instant zen.
Increase Strength and Flexibility
Yoga teaches us that there is incredible strength in stillness. Although it is sometimes misconstrued as a slow-paced and sluggish series of movements, yoga is actuality a pretty kick-ass workout that combines elements of strength training and cardiovascular exercise.
There is a variety of yoga poses that are implemented to stretch your muscles and assist you in increasing your range of motion; and although yoga is not considered to be an aerobic exercise, studies have found that it can be just as effective in improving people's overall physical fitness and health. Anyone who has ever chaturangaed their way through a few sun salutations will tell you, it takes an incredible amount of strength to hold your body in a balanced pose while also maintaining proper posture.
On top of building muscle, yoga also helps increase flexibility. Many people carry a false belief that they're not capable of adopting a yoga practice because they're not flexible when in reality, that in itself is a great reason to get started. People don't do yoga because they are flexible; people do yoga to become flexible. Yoga helps improve flexibility by conveying your joints through a wide range of motion, making them heartier, less susceptible to injury, and better able to withstand impact without problematic or long-lasting consequences.
Having a robust and limber body isn't just awesome for showing off in crow pose, it can also help enhance your other physical activities. Yoga is a favored method of training by many professional surfers, who often consider yoga to be an extension of the same movement patterns executed in the water, which ultimately helps them perform better when the hit the waves.
May Promote Other Healthier Habits
When you start incorporating activities that make you feel empowered into your daily life, it tends to have a domino effect. Yoga is the practice of bringing harmony to mind, body, and spirit; which may invigorate you explore other wholesome avenues of euphoria. Because the definition of happiness is just as unique as personalities, this will mean something different to everyone. Perhaps yoga will inspire you to clean up your diet, eliminate toxic people, pursue what you love, or finally kick an unhealthy habit that no longer serves you. The feel-good possibilities that yoga tends to inspire are endless and will undoubtedly encourage you to lead a more vibrant, energized, and balanced life.
Already a seasoned yogi? Share your favorite yoga pose in the comments!
Written By: Sera Ansardi