Why Yoga? Why Not?
I came to yoga for a workout. I stay for everything else.
I truly believe that the mind, body and soul connection in Yoga makes me a better person. I am more flexible now than I was in my teens and 20s. I have a better understanding of my body. I have learned to love myself as I am. I can better manage anxiety and depression. My list of reasons to do Yoga goes on and on. Here are my top 7:
1) Improves Mental and Physical Strength - Part of Yoga is working on your body’s strength and endurance so you can sit for long periods of time in meditation and reflection to attain enlightenment.That is the flowery explanation.But, anytime you are actively move and stretching your body you are strengthen it.In Yoga, the stretches and postures held for any amount of time activates your muscles.Add this to a mindfulness practice of sitting in meditation and tapping in to your brain, how can you not improve mentally and physically?
2) Increases Flexibility - Flexibility if something many people think of when the think of Yoga.It is also a big excuse I hear people use and why they don’t think they can do yoga.Well, I am here to tell you I never expect my students to stand on the heads and touch their toes to their nose.Yoga class is not a circus performance.Yoga does helps to improve flexibility and mobility, increasing range of movement and reducing aches and pains. Many people can’t touch their toes during their first yoga class. Gradually they begin to use the correct muscles. Over time, the ligaments, tendons and muscles lengthen, increasing elasticity, making more poses possible. Yoga also helps to improve body alignment resulting in better posture and helping to relieve back, neck, joint and muscle problems.
3) Stress Relief -In the midst of a jam-packed schedule, committing to the relaxed space of a yoga class might be the only way for some to slow down and breathe right. Breathing exercises calm and tame that endless stream of thoughts. This leads to greater concentration as you work your way through each yoga pose and life itself.As an anxiety sufferer, I find I can use yogic breathing to control my fight or flight response during stressful situations or when I feel a panic attack coming on.
According to the Yoga Alliance, by encouraging relaxation, yoga helps to lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Related benefits include lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion and boosting the immune system as well as easing symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, asthma and insomnia.
4) Improves Your Posture -Yoga is pretty effective at helping you develop some premium, proper posture, since a lot of the breathing and seated positions require a straight back for proper effect. I focus a lot on alignment in my yoga classes and in my personal practice. Over time, your body holds the memory of that alignment. Eventually you will lose your old slouching habits and an aligned stance will be second nature. You will naturally fall in to a poised posture that will have you automatically walking tall.
5) Better Breathing and Improved Circulation - Yoga teaches you to take slower, deeper breaths.This helps to improve lung function, trigger the body’s relaxation response and increase the amount of oxygen available to the body.Obviously, you need oxygen to live.Your cells need that oxygen.When you are moving, your oxygenated blood circulates throughout your body to better support your organs.Different yoga poses open up your body to allow the blood to flow more easily.For example, an inverted pose will use gravity to force the blood down and back to your organs.
6) Focus on the Present – This is a big one for me.I am a worrier.Yoga teaches us to be on our mat in the moment, and set aside anything that came before of will come after.Yoga helps us to become more aware and to help create mind body health. It opens the way to improved concentration, coordination, reaction time and memory.
7) Inner Peace - The meditative aspects of yoga help many to reach a deeper, more spiritual and more satisfying place in their lives.According to Yoga Alliance, many who begin to practice for other reasons have reported this to be a key reason that yoga has become an essential part of their daily lives.
As BKS Iyengar, considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world, once said, “if you don’t want your world to change, don’t step on your mat.”