You think yoga might not be for you then I urge you to reconsider. Here are 10 of my top reasons why you should start doing yoga as soon as possible. I really hope reading through this article helps you to incorporate yoga into your life.
We can’t eliminate stress, but certain breathing techniques, a regular mediation practice, different relaxation techniques as well as Restorative Yoga can be an effective treatment to reduce anxiety, tension and negative thinking. When we are anxious or stressed our nervous system is involved. The autonomic nervous system has two branches – the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for fight-or-flight responses and short-term survival, while the parasympathetic nervous system controls bodily functions when a person is at rest. Some of its activities include stimulating digestion, activating metabolism, and helping the body relax. Chronic stress, anxiety, and panic can keep the body’s sympathetic nervous system in a near-constant and over-active state. Learning to calm the sympathetic nervous system and strengthen the parasympathetic nervous system relaxation response is an important part of stress and anxiety reduction. Asana, the physical aspect of yoga can be also very beneficial helping you to relax. Stretching allows your muscles to loosen up and to let go of where you are carrying stress in your body. And by constantly alternating between different postures your focus will be on your body and your breath and you don’t have time to worry so much or to get lost in your thoughts.
Only a few Sun Salutations are already a wonderful full-body workout in itself and a nice cardiovascular exercise benefitting your whole body. But there are also various yoga postures and exercises you can do to built strength in your core, shoulders, arms and legs. And since you usually work with your own body weight in yoga, your muscles are built up in a gentle and natural way. Strong and toned muscles not only look good, but also contribute to your general health and fitness and aid in the prevention of injuries.
The wonderful thing about yoga is that you not only train and strengthen your body but also your mind. The holistic practice of yoga improves your inner focus and sharpens your senses. Mindfulness mediation practice can be an important tool to anchor you more in the present moment, which frees you up from your worries about the past or future happenings. It is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Slowly and consciously performed yoga postures can improve your focus and sharpen your senses as well. Especially in balancing poses you will notice when your mind starts to wander and you lose focus, you lose your balance also. If you are anchored in the present moment and stay focused, you will often have no problems holding your yoga posture. Through a deep connection with yourself you will be more aware of your inner world and what is happening around you.
Yoga is not a panacea, but has been demonstrated to help people with chronic pain and to improve physical function. Yoga can reduce pain perception, decrease inflammation and improve mobility among people with neck, shoulder, knee or back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraine and many other types of chronic pain conditions. Yoga may help relieve chronic pain not only through movement, but also through deep breathing and meditation. It reduces stress and helps to take your mind off your pain. Diminishing stress is important as stress can make pain worse by lowering your tolerance to it and by increasing cortisol, a body chemical that causes inflammation.
Getting a good night’s rest is essential in order to be able to function properly the next day. Unfortunately for many people, getting to sleep and staying asleep isn’t as easy as it should be. Anxiety and racing thoughts might keep you awake. Yoga is a great way for you to improve the quality of your sleep as well as improving the duration of your sleeping hours, because of its combination of physical exertion and relaxing meditation. A physically challenging yoga practice tires your body out and can make it easier for you to fall asleep. But also particular restorative yoga poses will help relax your nervous system and encourage your mind to unwind from your day’s tension. The meditative side of yoga allows you to relax and de-stress, making it easier for our mind to wander to sleep at night. Also focusing on your breath can help your sleeping pattern by distracting yourself from daily worries and reduce anxiety and stress.
I often hear the statement “I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible”. This excuse makes about as much sense as “I can’t shower because I’m dirty.” To start yoga you don’t need to be able to twist yourself into a pretzel. Yoga poses and exercises can help to enhance your mobility and flexibility. You are moving your joints in all directions and your body is encouraged to hold stretches for a period of time, allowing your muscles to go deeper into the stretch. In Yin Yoga poses are held for even longer periods of time, so that the deeper tissues such as fascia, joints and tendons feel the positive effect of the stretches as well. In the long run, mobility is essential because it allows you to function normally through your daily activities. And if you do other sports, good mobility supports and increases your performance and reduces the risk of injury.
In yoga you will discover your limits and get to know your body to develop a better body feeling. In particular yoga beginners can often not really control their own body. Yoga emphasizes good postural alignment, so you’ll get a great understanding of how to sit, stand and flow through movements. Keeping up your yoga practice will help you to gain control over your body and to improve your body awareness, motor skills and coordination.
Often we don’t even notice that our breathing is quite shallow. Excessive worrying and anxiety can subconsciously affect our breathing. But also tight clothing, slouched sitting, incorrect posture and lack of exercise can interfere with breathing and decrease adequate oxygen intake. Breathing the right way increases the capacity of your lungs and supplies your body with more oxygen. To stimulate your metabolism, reduce toxins in your body, strengthen your immune system, improve your digestion and reduce stress practicing various breathing techniques in yoga can be very effective.
Yoga and immunity go hand-in-hand as yoga helps by calming your nervous system and lowering stress hormones, which affect the immune system. It also strengthens your lungs and respiratory system, as well as stimulates your lymphatic system to get rid of toxins from the body. Yoga also helps bring oxygen-rich blood to all your organs thus ensuring that they function optimally. All of these factors lead to an overall stronger, healthier immune system.
There might be times in your life where you feel knocked down and your self-confidence disappears. It becomes difficult to go through your daily routine and it often affects both your personal and professional life. Low self-confidence can also lead to stress, which will in turn lead to other physical and mental issues. Practicing yoga can increase your self-esteem and self-confidence. It sends a positive message to your heart and mind, which means you care about yourself. By improving your posture, building physical strength and moving up to more challenging poses, you will feel stronger on the inside.
Of course there are many more reasons why you should do yoga but I hope I was able to convey why yoga is more than just a sport and has a positive influence on your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. No matter if you are young or old, sick or weak, everyone can start with yoga. Yoga is suitable for both sporty and untrained people. Whether in your own home, in the yoga studio, on a business trip, in the office or on vacation – you can practice yoga anywhere and you don’t even need a yoga mat for many exercises. So no excuses anymore – give it a try!