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Why haven’t you started yoga yet?
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone say they can’t do yoga because they’re “not flexible.” Like they really believe that everyone who does yoga was given a gift of flexibility.
Yoga will make you flexible – it’s one of many benefits of yoga. But, it’s like anything else. You start yoga, you practice yoga and you become more flexible.
A Few Benefits of Yoga
Benefits of Yoga #1 – Start Yoga to Decrease Stress & Anxiety
Yoga is well known for its ability to lower stress, decrease anxiety and increase relaxation.
Yoga is often used in combination with meditation to further reduce and manage stress and anxiety.
Yoga promotes relaxation and anxiety & stress reduction because of the way you contract and relax your muscles during practice.
Furthermore, yoga promotes the importance of being present in the moment. This is thought to help with stress and anxiety reduction.
A 2018 study on the Effect of Yoga on Stress, Anxiety, and Depression in Women concluded that “Yoga has an effective role in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.”
A 2009 study on Effects of yoga on depression and anxiety of women concluded that “Participation in a two-month yoga class can lead to significant reduction in perceived levels of anxiety in women who suffer from anxiety disorders.”
If you suffer from stress or anxiety, start yoga today!
Benefits of Yoga #2 – Start Yoga to Sleep Better
Need better sleep quality? Start yoga and start sleeping better!
Sleep is a universal complaint. 9 out of 10 people I know complain about their sleep in some way. Some have trouble falling asleep, some have trouble staying asleep. You have people who toss and turn all night long. Snoring, light sleeping, not enough sleep. The list of sleep complaints goes on and on.
Poor sleep quality has negative effects on your daily life. But it also has been associated with numerous health disorders.
Yoga can help improve the quality of your sleep. It won’t make more time for you to sleep, but it can help with the sleep time you have. Numerous studies have demonstrated that yoga can promote better sleep.
A 2004 study of the effects of hatha yoga concluded that yoga can be used to increase melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that helps to regulate sleep.
Benefits of Yoga #3 – Start Yoga for a Positive Body Image
I once heard a woman say she liked yoga because people who do yoga aren’t judgemental. I laughed (not out loud) because that’s absurd. Yoga is not going to make you a nicer person. However, yoga classes are (usually) pretty free of body shaming.
There’s no “yoga body.” People of all shapes and sizes rock amazing yoga poses.
And general yoga classes (the ones that aren’t specifically for advanced yogis) usually have a variety of capabilities.
Also, the nature of yoga means that you’re going to hear some sounds (and potentially smell some smells) in every class. Nobody is going to bat an eyelash or judge.
Benefits of Yoga #4 – Start Yoga and Be a Better Breather
Yoga puts you in touch with your breathing. You’re encouraged to breathe deeply, slowly and through your nose. All things that people need to be doing a lot more of.
Breathing through your nose is better for you than breathing through your mouth. Your nose filters the air that you breathe so you take less pollen and dirt into your lungs.
Improved breathing will help keep your lungs and heart healthy. It will also help with endurance activities (hey runners!), and more.
Yoga can increase the amount of air that can be expelled from your lungs. An important factor in asthma, heart problems, and lung diseases.
Being a better breather is hypothesized as a contributing factor to why yoga helps with anxiety.
Benefits of Yoga #5 & Many More
There are innumerable benefits of yoga that could be listed.
There’s the obvious – Yoga can improve flexibility and balance. It can also increase strength. Furthermore, yoga can promote healthy eating habits and improve posture.
Yoga may help reduce inflammation. It might help you fight the flu and other bugs. It can also improve heart health.
Yoga can reduce chronic pain. It might help relieve migraines. And, yoga can help you fight depression.
There are so many more benefits that I’m not even touching on here.
All of these benefits of yoga can lead to a huge improvement in the quality of your life.
Start yoga! Reap the benefits of yoga!
Start Yoga Resources
There are many ways to practice yoga.
In Person Yoga Classes
The best yoga resource is going to be a qualified, amazing yoga instructor – IRL (in real life).
If you’re a beginner to intermediate, a quality yoga instructor is one that will correct your form. A yoga instructor that spends the whole class doing the yoga routine is not an instructor, they’re a guide. This isn’t useful for a beginner.
A good instructor will demonstrate the pose. While the class is holding the pose, the instructor will wander around correcting form. They might ask to touch you to correct your form (you can say no) or they may just give verbal instructions. The key is that they’re giving you feedback. This feedback is the reason why an in-person yoga class is a better choice than doing yoga on your own (aka self-practice).
Yoga studios will offer a variety of classes. They’ll offer different styles and levels. Classes will occur at a variety of times throughout the day.
Instructors at yoga studios will typically be highly knowledgable about yoga.
However, yoga studios can be quite pricey. They’re also not always convenient.
If a commercial gym offers classes, chances are good they’ll have yoga. Commercial gyms are typically far less expensive than a yoga studio.
You don’t need a membership – most gyms and studios will offer a day pass. So if you can’t afford (or don’t want) a membership, you could take a yoga class once a month to check on your form.
During the warmer months of the year, a lot of studios will offer special outdoor classes. They’ll go to the park or the beach. These classes are often offered as a fixed price for the whole set.
A final option, most yoga instructors are freelance workers and work at multiple locations. They’re often willing to do private classes. If you have a group of friends, and the space, you could arrange your own private class. Costs will vary depending on where you live. Most instructors will have a maximum number of people they’re willing to teach at once.
Self-Practice (aka On Your Own Yoga)
If you prefer to practice yoga at home, you’ll need to pay more attention to your form. Make sure nothing hurts – stretching shouldn’t be painful.
Youtube is the obvious resource for yoga videos that you can do at home, but it’s not my preference.
I highly recommend DoYogaWithMe. It’s an amazing website with high-quality, professional content and a wide variety of different yoga styles. They offer plenty of free content – you’ll find what you need without ever paying. However, they also offer a monthly membership which gives you even more content plus some other benefits.
Note: I am not an affiliate or involved with the site in any way. I’m just a very satisfied user.
There are over 500 videos on the site. Happy Hamstrings by Fiji McAlpine (21:50) is one of my favorite routines to do.
The Sun Salutation
The Sun Salutation is a cornerstone of yoga. Nearly every yoga program will run through it (or a variation of it).
If you don’t have time for a full yoga class, add a sun salutation (or two or three) to the beginning and/or end of your regular workouts.
Here’s a two-minute sun salutation video.
A Solo or Social Practice
Yoga can be done by anyone. Anywhere.
You can practice alone or you can practice with people.
If you practice alone, make sure you never feel like you have to be alone. This Bitch would love to hear about your yoga successes (and struggles).
Yoga for All
Yoga is truly a workout for anyone. You can start yoga with nothing (although a mat is highly recommended). You can do it anywhere. You can adjust for any level.
Seriously. Why haven’t you started yoga? Go! Start yoga now!
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