Everyone has their favorite way to exercise and it’s pretty typical for people to look down on the way others do things. I have been scorned, looked down upon, and flat out laughed at when I told people I practiced yoga. There are reasons it is my go-to workout, though, and I just want to take a minute to explain why I do what I do. Also for anyone that doesn’t think yoga can be a workout, I challenge you to try Kundalini yoga. You will definitely get a mind and body workout you likely have never experienced before.
It Helps Reduce Stress
Many forms of exercise can help reduce stress because they get endorphins going. That being said, yoga is particularly useful at reducing stress because as you stretch you are easing the tension out of the places in your body it was being kept at the same time you are meditating and being mindful of your current situation.Yoga allows you to work out the strains of stress from your body through both posture and breathing techniques.
Most people I see working out at the gym or jogging down my street have music blaring and are not really being mindful of their surroundings. If you don’t believe me look around you at the gym next time you are there or see how many joggers run into other people or things as they go. Make an extra effort to be mindful however you exercise, but know that it’s likely going to be easiest when you do yoga.
It Increases Flexibility
You have all seen the pictures of yogis in crazy poses it looks like they shouldn’t be able to humanly do. I do not strive for this, but I do strive to make myself more flexible than I currently am because I know that means I am toning my muscles. While muscle mass is important it is also imperative that we tone the muscle we do have and help them work for us.
It also comes in useful around the homestead when I need to stretch in what I once thought were impossible ways to do difficult jobs. You never know when your flexibility will come in really handy.
It Improves Circulation
Poor circulation is more common than many realize. For me it manifest itself in the form of cold hands and feet most often. If you have diabetes, blood pressure problems, high cholesterol, or spend most of your time in front of a desk, you may have circulation issues too. Many of the poses including downward dog, warrior II, triangle, and others increase your circulation by releasing your veins while compressing the muscles around them. Your controlled breathing enhances the posture even more and helps your body circulate blood properly.
You may be curious why you need to worry about your circulation. After all cold hands aren’t really a big deal, right? Research is showing more and more that stagnant blood is not good for your body and may even lead to cancer, so proper circulation is definitely important to achieving good health.
It Boosts Self Esteem
When you take time to do a mindful practice you will unlock a part of yourself that is confident and hopeful. You become aware of all the wonderful things your body can do and it is exciting to learn how capable you are. As you see your body get into better shape it also helps you feel more confident. You may want to be skinnier or just more toned. Either way, yoga can help and will help if you develop a dedicated practice that you do regularly.
If you are feeling down on yourself, try a 30 day yoga challenge and see if your self confidence improves. Making peace with your body is a big hang up for some people and yoga is a good way to get to that place. You want you and your body to be on the same team, not fighting against each other, and yoga can help you establish this relationship.
Go forth! Try some yoga! You can get yoga videos from your local library, look up your favorites on Netflix or your favorite streaming subscription, or just find free videos on YouTube. Just try it. It’s such a little thing that can make a big difference in your life!