Have you ever considered taking a yoga class, because all your friends are doing it or they’re offering a free class at the gym? Yoga dates back 5,000 years to the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India, but today it’s evolved into a combination of fitness, flexibility and meditation that has a great variety of life-changing effects. Let’s take a look at some of the remarkable ways that yoga can change lives.
Yoga isn’t something that you normally associate with getting your heart rate up — but that doesn’t mean that it can’t make you stronger. There are poses that target specific areas of your body — from planks and boat poses that target your core, to warrior and goddess poses that target your legs and glutes. Repeating these poses and holding them for extended periods of time helps to use your own bodyweight to increase your strength.
Yoga poses might look intimidating, with hyper-flexible yogi’s posting pictures doing splits or twisting their legs behind their heads. You might not start out flexible but practicing different asanas will help to improve your flexibility and posture. You stretch before and after regular exercise to release lactic acid from muscle cells. Practicing yoga can do much the same, whether you start your flow before or after your workout.
Don’t let those skilled yogis on social media intimidate you. The nice thing about yoga is that you can modify any pose to fit your practice. Don’t give up — modify!
Self-confidence is something that can be difficult to obtain in today’s world when we judge ourselves through the lens of social media. It’s something that we all need to be truly happy with ourselves, which is where yoga comes in. Practicing yoga a few times a week and you’ll start to see how strong and capable you’re becoming. That, in turn, translates to self-confidence that you might not find anywhere else. If you’re struggling to find confidence in yourself, try a yoga class.
The practice of yoga isn’t just about standing on your head or twisting yourself into mind and body-bending shapes. It is also a form of meditation, focusing on your breath and heart rate as you move in and out of these asanas. You learn to be mindful of your breathing, keeping yourself in the moment instead of focusing on what you did before your flow or what you have to do after.
The point of yoga is to be in each movement and in each moment and that, in itself, is the essence of mindfulness. Many people use yoga to let go of the worries they face in their work and personal lives. In fact, yoga is commonly used as an alternative healing method by people recovering from addiction. The practice helps them relieve stress and anxiety without the need for drugs or alcohol.
Yoga is the practice of awareness. As you give yourself over to each of these movements, you’ll start to become aware of your body and your breath — how you move, how you draw air in and release it, how each muscle group responds to a different asana. It gives you a level of understanding that you won’t find anywhere else, once you get out of your own head and stop thinking about each pose so much.
It takes some practice — when you start, you’ll find yourself counting your breaths to help you figure out when you can release that downward dog and move on to the next pose. As you practice, you’ll become aware of your body and you’ll start holding poses until your body tells you that it’s time to move on to the next one. You’ll be able to stay in a downward dog for minutes at a time without even batting an eye.
People don’t start a yoga journey with the idea of getting fit or healthy, but that ends up being one of the side effects. Connecting your mind, body and breath helps to reduce stress, improve health and turn you into a happier individual. Yes, you will lose weight if you practice regularly, but doing yoga will also improve your overall fitness and increase your energy levels while helping to improve your mental health.
We’re so afraid of being judged in our daily life. We tend to avoid trying new things unless we know that we’ll be good at them right off the bat so we can avoid looking like a fool. Yoga is something that no one ever masters. No, those Instagram yogi might be so flexible that they can tie themselves in a bow, but they’re still just practicing. Yoga is a lifelong practice. If your balance sucks or you can’t stand on your head or you can only hold a downward dog for five seconds before you fall on your face, you’re not alone. Taking a yoga class pushes you out of your comfort zone and can spark a sense of adventure that you might have forgotten you had. Next thing you know you’ll be signing up for a yoga retreat in Bali!
If you’ve never tried yoga before in your life, now is the perfect time to start. Find a local class or if you live in the middle of nowhere, check out YouTube for some beginner flows to help you get started. Yoga won’t just help you get fit — it will change your life.