Today I’m bringing you another ‘5 Reasons to…’ post, and this time I’m taking a look at yoga. I’ve practised yoga on and off for a couple of years, and I’m trying to make 2016 the year it sticks. Looking at the benefits helps to make it more of a priority, and it’s something that I know makes me feel good. If you’re interested in reading more about my journey, all my yoga posts are here.
#1 – Physical Changes to Your Body
If you’ve never tried yoga, you’ve probably underestimated just how much of a workout it can be. Just a few of the physical benefits include increased strength, flexibility and balance. Yoga uses your own bodyweight to build strength; throughout one session you’ll be holding your body in positions such as plank, low lunge, squat and these all work your muscles. You’ll feel your own body getting used to holding your own weight for extended periods, and with practise comes the ability to get yourself into lifts and moving with ease. And hey, it may even help you to lose a few pounds.
#2 – Helping Your Mind
Feeling stressed? Yoga is all about deep breathing and relaxation techniques. Taking time out on your mat, even just 10 minutes, will help you to quieten your thoughts, centre your focus and control your breathing. It makes you feel good. Meditation is good for your mind, and through regular practise you will develop increased focus, patience, and self-awareness.
#3 – Improves Posture
I know I have terrible posture and it’s not something I really noticed or paid attention to until I started doing yoga. Whether you watch videos or go to a class, you’re constantly being reminded about good posture, keeping your back straight and shoulders back and relaxed. I bet even now you’re hunching over a computer/phone/tablet, right? Paying attention to your posture regularly throughout your practise makes it feel more natural in every day life.
#4 – Sleeping Aid
Yoga helps you to unwind, and at the end of a busy day, that is exactly what you need. The practise helps you to relax both your mind and your body, releasing all that pent up energy and helping your physical aches. Restorative routines can be found online and these will include poses such as forward bends (uttanasana), corpse pose (savasana), legs-up-the-wall pose (viparita karani) and child’s pose (balasana) – to name a few.
#5 – Yoga is for Everyone
Yoga is for anyone at any stage of life – you don’t have to be super fit and you don’t have to be super flexible. In most classes the teacher will show you a pose, give you ways to make it easier, and also ways to make it more challenging. Don’t worry if you can’t get into the full pose straight away because that will come with practise. Seated forward bends and triangle pose – I can’t do them at all. It’s something I’ll be working on in the coming months. When you see those fancy yoga photos and poses online, just remember that these people all started at nothing too. They didn’t get that good without first going through the frustrations, the struggles and those times when you just can’t keep your balance and fall over. If they can get to that point, then so can you.