Wow, where to begin with this post? I guess I should start by talking about why I do yoga. There are so many reasons and so many benefits that it has been hard for me to formulate this article to say all that I want it to say. That being said, every person who practices yoga at any level will have their own reasons and their own story. If you are even considering trying yoga, I hope this helps nudge you along. ☺
Yoga Pushes You to Be Your Best Self
Growing up I tried just about every sport available to me and none of them ever stuck. I had a wild imagination, was very creative, and loved playing outside with my friends, but the sports thing never did it for me. I tried soccer, basketball, gymnastics, volleyball, swimming, and even ran cross country in high school. Nothing ever felt completely natural. To this day, I’m not very passionate about playing sports and much prefer yoga and the gym. Although I am very driven in other areas of life, where sports were involved, I never quite caught the competitive bug.
This brings me to my first point about yoga. It is never a competition. Some people will argue that it’s “a competition with no one but yourself," but I disagree even where that point is concerned. Yoga is about becoming the best version of yourself, getting out of your head while you are on the mat, and finding a sense of stillness. The flexibility, strength, and health benefits are an obvious perk, but, overall, the practice of yoga is about much more than the physical.
Engaging in a practice with deeper meaning while still reaping the benefits of working out is one of the reasons yoga is so appealing to me. You can be the most physically healthy person on the planet, but if you are lacking emotionally or spiritually, if you feel unhappy and restless, if you lack worth or inner peace, you will remain unbalanced. You cannot be a completely healthy person when you aren’t in touch with your spirit. Physical health is extremely important, but it can only go so far.
A quote I stumbled upon recently sums it up beautifully: “Yoga is not about touching your toes, it is what you learn on the way down.”
Yoga is an Amazing Stress Reliever
I have several methods that I use to relieve stress and anxiety – yoga, meditation, and writing to name a few. But yoga is the only one of these that incorporates the mental, emotional, and physical into one practice. There is something about combining the three that gives you that endorphin rush and melts the stress away in an extremely effective manner.
If you have a stressful day at work, you can leave it all at the door when you enter a yoga studio. If you have such a stressful day that you can’t make it to the yoga studio, you can leave your stress on the mat in your home. Yoga does NOT have to be practiced the way other people think you should practice it. Practicing in a studio with others can be very rewarding, however, I find that when I practice at home I reap just as many benefits. It is also much easier to practice new poses or increase your flexibility when you’re going at your own pace. Just do what you can! You (and your stressed out mind) will thank yourself for it.
Yoga has Physical Health Benefits
If the spiritual and mental benefits are not enough in and of themselves, there are obvious health benefits to yoga as well.
I can say from personal experience that yoga greatly increases your flexibility and strength. Both of which become increasingly important as you age (increased flexibility has even been known to lessen changes of developing osteoporosis). Yoga also helps strengthen your focus, balance, and keeps your metabolism on track.
Although it is not considered cardio by most, more intense yoga sessions have, without a doubt, left me tired and with a racing heart. So it can most certainly be argued that yoga does help cardiovascular health as well. It has also been known to help rid people of symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
The stress relieving effects of yoga are also excellent for decreasing high blood pressure and giving you peace of mind.
Yoga Teaches You to Be Still
One of the most important lessons I have learned up to this point in my life revolves around stillness. As I talked about previously in my post here, there is so much to say for living in the present moment. Being a worrier, it is something I have struggled with most of my life.
I came across a quote from ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu that hit it home for me: “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
I will be the first to admit that I have struggled with living in the future, constantly worrying about where I would end up or the direction I was heading in my life. I don’t claim to have it mastered, but yoga (along with mediation) has helped me more than anything else I have tried when it comes to staying in the present moment. To being still.
Maybe it is the focus on your breath, or the knowledge that you are doing something great for yourself, or maybe even the focus on your movement and body. Whatever it may be, while I am practicing yoga, I’m not in any state of worry. I am completely present. And it is in those moments of being present and still that we can connect with who we are and what we truly want.
So with all of that being said, I hope to use this site to talk more in depth about yoga, its incredible benefits, and show some poses and how-to’s. I love exploring and learning more about yoga, so I hope my fellow yogis or yogis-to-be can follow along and learn something new!