Mind, body and soul become in tune with one another, as yoga taps into all the sensations of the self. There is a feeling of full body awareness and consciousness, and it is the perfect way to recharge your batteries any time during the week. Give yoga a try, even for just 15 minutes per day, and you will reap some serious yogi benefits.
Yoga is a very individual practice. It is not team-based, and there is no one right way to do anything. It is important to recognize and be aware of this when starting a yoga practice, as there is no competition in yoga. Everyone’s body is different, so everyone’s practice will be different as well.
Steven A. Russell, a yoga teacher based in New Jersey, struggled with yoga when he first tried it over ten years ago. Being a male, he found that his body was less limber than the women around him. Thus, he tailored his yoga practice to his body’s needs, and eventually found the benefits of practicing yoga to be so enticing that he became a certified instructor.
Improve your body
The physical benefactors of practicing yoga are pretty much infinite. All parts of the body reap some sort of benefits, and more so if yoga is done on a regular basis. Those who practice yoga have better posture, steadiness, balance and flexibility, and they are able to hold their breath for longer periods of time.
Yoga is also a great way to recover from and prevent bodily injuries. Total body awareness is essential, and easily attainable, to preventing injuries during your yoga practice. Muscles also become more toned when yoga is incorporated daily.
Reach and maintain a healthy weight
Studies show that those who practice yoga on a regular basis are more likely to be at a healthy weight than those who neglect to include it as a part of their routine. People who engage in practicing yoga are much more in tune with what is good for their body, and this extends to their diet. Less junk food is consumed by these people, as they often opt for more healthful and nutritious options, sometimes unintentionally. Russell states that one of the greatest advantages to practicing yoga is the increased “awareness of the implications of the food we eat upon our health.”
Also, the practice of yoga itself is a great workout. There are more different types of yoga than I can name myself, and each one is different. There are restorative practices, which focus more on stretching the muscles. There are also more intensive practices, which may consist of quick transitions and series to create a cardiovascular workout, which is a great catalyst for healthy and maintained weight loss.
Calm your mind
The chanting and meditation is not for everyone, nor is it essential to become attuned to your mind. Simply becoming aware of your breath while practicing yoga has immediate effects on calming the mind. Stress, anxiety and depression levels decrease, as well as blood pressure and respiratory rates.
People who practice yoga are happier and have stronger feelings of a peaceful mind and body. Yogis have better sleep, and many moves in yoga promote digestive health. Concentration levels improve as a result. If that doesn’t convince you, I’m not sure what will!
Make new friends
Think the benefits of yoga are limited to improving your body and spirit? Think again! There are tons of aspects of your life that gain advantages of making yoga a part of your routine. I’ve met tons of new connections, and Russell has also admitted to having “met some very interesting and special people through yoga.”
Any time you join an activity that involves a group of people getting together for a common cause, a networking opportunity presents itself. Making friends at yoga class can help you to find deep connections with others or simply a friend to have a quick chat over coffee. Most people who practice yoga are health conscious and partake in other healthful activities. Yoga can be your gateway practice into a whole new plethora of positive pastimes.
How to get into it
I tried yoga three times before I decided it was right for me. My first two attempts failed to persuade me to start regularly practicing yoga, and I think that it was due to the instructor. Russell also confirms the importance of finding a good teacher. His first yoga class in 2000 was taught by a woman, and he didn’t think he did very well, being that he could not do all the poses that she and the other students were doing. He then sought out a yoga studio with a male instructor, and he “became hooked.”
He also urges those new to yoga to find beginner series. It can be discouraging to jump into an advanced class where you cannot keep up with the skill level of those around you. Find something that is right for you, and stick with it.
Maximize your yoga practice
Yoga is not always a good thing. “People can easily get hurt,” Russell admits. However, we need to listen to our bodies and not let the ego convince us to do things our bodies are not ready for. “When you breathe fully and learn to listen to your body and focus inward and touch the inner self deeply, you can guide yourself safely.”
You don’t have to be in class to practice yoga. Simply becoming aware of breath is a practice of yoga itself. Russell recommends you take what you learn from yoga and apply it to your daily life; take long and deep breaths while you’re driving, working, watching television, or anything in your daily routine.
Incorporating yoga into my daily routine is a change I’ve made in my life, and I have no plans on going back. I leave class every day feeling happier and healthier, knowing that I’ve made yet another step to improving my health. What are some of the things that you love about yoga?