Yoga has been around for thousands of years, originating in India as part of a spiritual and meditative practice. Today, the Western world has thoroughly embraced yoga as a popular form of meditation and exercise. You can do yoga at home alone, with a group outside or in a studio led by an instructor.
There are many kinds of yoga that combine breathing techniques, spirituality, body positions, flows and more. Over time, it has been discovered that yoga can assist in relieving or managing a great number of health conditions and improve your overall physical and mental wellness.
If you’ve never tried yoga, now is the perfect time to start. Here are eight reasons you should start doing yoga right away:
1. Stress relief: One of the key components of yoga is meditation, where you quiet your mind and focus on your breathing to center yourself. Meditation and yoga are well-known for their ability to reduce stress and anxiety. These problems can manifest as health conditions later in life if they aren’t managed well. If you suffer from chronic stress, anxiety or other similar challenges, yoga can help you unwind, breathe, focus and feel calm.
2. Gentle exercise: Yoga is not just about breathing and standing in poses. It also challenges your muscles and gives your lungs and heart a workout. Yoga can be a great form of gentle daily exercise to get you up and moving, even if you do a quick flow in the middle of the day. The movements can also be altered to suit your comfortability level, so you can challenge yourself more over time as your body gets used to the poses.
3. Build strength: Your muscles—particularly your arms, legs and core—will be challenged and strengthened the more yoga you do. Many poses have you holding positions for a certain period of time, building endurance and strength. And, since yoga uses a series of body weight exercises, you can strength train without needed extra equipment!
4. Increase flexibility: Yoga includes a great number of stretches designed to elongate your muscles and improve your flexibility. If you’ve ever seen a picture of someone doing a handstand or tucking their legs behind their ears and balked, know that you, too, could achieve this level of flexibility if you continue doing yoga.
5. Manage chronic pain: Many doctors and personal trainers recommend yoga as a form of gentle exercise and stretching for patients with chronic pain. Studies have indicated that chronic pain patients have shown improvements in their comfort levels after continuous yoga. The techniques are also ideal for people with osteoporosis, arthritis and similar conditions because the exercise is weight-bearing but not high-impact.
6. Boost your mood: One of the many benefits of yoga and its meditative properties is improved mood, since it calms and relaxes you. Additionally, exercise helps release endorphins in your brain, which combat stress and improve your mood.
7. Get better sleep: Yoga is known to improve sleep, especially in people with insomnia. Thanks to deep breathing, calming music and slow, relaxed movements, yoga can get your body in a state for sleep if you do a quick flow right before bed. Stress relief, exercise and reduced anxiety also contribute to better sleep, which are also benefits of yoga.
8. Improve your posture: The movements involved in yoga can also help you improve your posture over time. By strengthening the muscles in your back and neck and increasing endurance by holding difficult poses for extended periods of time, you should see a difference in the way you sit and stand. This can have a huge impact on minimizing back pain and reducing potential back problems in the future.
Make yoga a staple in your daily life
One of the best things about yoga is that it can be extremely versatile. You can do a short yoga session in your office before you begin work for the day or use it as a relaxing period to center yourself before bed. Creating “me time” through yoga can make you more mindful, happy and calm.
Yoga can also be a social activity. Tons of people meet up with friends to take a yoga class at a studio or even create their own gatherings at their homes or in public places like the park. If you need some accountability, get a small group of people together to do yoga once a week.
No matter how you choose to embrace yoga this year, you have so many opportunities to reap the benefits it has to offer. Enjoy a calmer, stronger you this year thanks to yoga.