During my first year of college, I was hired to be a yoga instructor for my school's gym and recreational center. I was so excited to finally share my practice with students aspiring to become a practicing yogi, or even advanced students that want to widen their knowledge of yoga! Unfortunately, not a lot of people realize how great yoga truly is for the body, so I am writing today to talk to you about why you should be practicing right now. For those wondering whether to practice yoga, here are a few health benefits of yoga that may surprise you.
1. It builds muscle strength.Giphy
There are many poses in yoga that build strength. For example, holding strong warrior poses can increase your muscle strength and endurance, especially in the arms and thighs. Chaturangas are also known to build strength in the arms and in the core!
2. It helps improve your posture.Giphy
When you practice yoga regularly for a long period of time, you will actually develop a more proper posture naturally. Yoga will help you sit and stand up straighter, bring your shoulders back and lift your head.
3. It eases anxiety and depression.Giphy
This is the main reason why I started practicing yoga. At the time I was going through a bad breakup and needed help finding myself again by starting a new hobby. I also had developed an anxiety problem when I was younger. When I heard that yoga eased stress and anxiety, I immediately looked into practicing. Since then, I've been happier, my anxiety symptoms have lessened, and I've been able to sleep better!
4. It helps you focus.Giphy
Yoga can help clear your mind of stress and negativity whenever you practice, so getting rid of that stress will help you focus on the more important things in your life. You'll be able to get things done more effectively!
5. It brings you to a state of true relaxation.Giphy
Yoga doesn't just help your body relax, but it also helps your mind relax as well. A post-body workout combined with a meditation practice will make you feel more relaxed than you've ever felt before.
6. It increases your heart rate.
This gif is an accurate representation of how I feel about creator Valerie McPherson.Giphy
Many people believe that yoga is just a bunch of stretching and breathing. In reality, more intense methods of yoga have the ability to get your heart rate up. It adds in a bit of a cardio workout to your flow.
7. It increases blood flow.Giphy
Moving and stretching every part of your body is what gets that blood flowing! Relaxation helps the blood in your body circulate, and different inversions can help blood flow from your lower body to your head.
8. It improves flexibility.Giphy
Okay, so this one isn't really a surprise. This one is probably the most well-known fact about yoga. However, many people believe that you have to be flexible already to practice yoga. When I ask my friends about why they don't consider practicing, the #1 excuse I get is "I'm not flexible enough!" Yoga BUILDS flexibility; you don't have to be flexible at all to practice yoga. Before I started, I wasn't even able to touch my toes. Everyone has their own starting point; it's how much you improve yourself that really matters.
It doesn't matter how tall or short you are, how much you weigh, how flexible or strong you are, whether you have a disability, or where you are emotionally. With time and a place to move around, absolutely anyone can practice yoga. Youtube offers free yoga practices made by yogis from all around the world, and you can even visit your local gym to see if they offer in-person classes. So go out there and practice to your heart's desire.