I am definitely not a yoga pro or expert, but I do know that I love and believe in the practice and never regret going to a class. I’ve done bikram, hot, flow, summits, vinyasa, hatha, now prenatal and even essential oil yoga. I love it so much that I thought I would do a post on yoga benefits as well as tips for starting out if you are new to it. Because of the somewhat recent rise in popularity, chances are you have heard of yoga and probably experienced a few different types as well. Maybe you loved it, maybe you hated it. Maybe you just did it because it was a free class and you vow to try everything once. Either way, I hope you learn something new about it in this post and possibly give it another try if you aren’t yet sold.
Because of all the different types of yoga out there, yoga can be a bit overwhelming and intimidating if you are new to it. My advice is to start with a beginner’s class and also to try different types if you aren’t feeling the first type of class you take. Just because I love yoga, doesn’t mean I love every type out there. I have found the types I enjoy most and that push me just enough out of my comfort zone. I think the teacher is also a huge aspect of the practice and what you get out of it. I have had great teachers and not so great, but because of this I now know what to look for and what I personally need in a yoga teacher.
Once you try a few different types of yoga, you will also slowly discover the type you are looking for. Are you a fast paced yogi who likes to get a good cardio workout in as well and break a sweat? Or are you a slow, flow, meditative yogi who would rather use the time to unwind and relax your body? I’m definitely the latter, but it took quite a few classes to discover this. Every once and awhile, I’ll crave a more fast paced or intense class though, and it’s good to mix it up and keep your body guessing. Another tip and something that can be difficult is to keep the focus on yourself in class. Try not to compare yourself and your practice to others around you. Each person is at a different level and you should only compare your own practice to your previous one and shift the focus on your own personal improvements.
Yoga can also be hard for a lot of people because it forces us to slow down, focus on our breathing and push out incoming thoughts from the outside world. This can be a challenge especially in today’s day and age of go go go and multi-tasking. “What? You mean you actually want me to just focus on my breathing and tune everything else out for a whole hour?” Believe me, I get it, but just this hour alone can be exactly what our bodies and minds need and are oftentimes yearning and subtly asking for. This leads me to just a few of the myriad of benefits that come from practicing yoga…there truly are so many…
- Improves flexibility
- Builds muscle strength
- Improves posture
- Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown
- Protects your spine
- Improves back pain and other ailments
- Betters your bone health
- Increases blood flow
- Drains your lymph nodes
- Boosts immunity
- Lowers the risk of heart attack
- Relieves depression
- Lowers blood pressure
- Regulates adrenal glands
- Improves mood
- Improves mental focus
- Relieves stress
- Improves balance
- Releases tension
- Improves quality of sleep
- Boosts immune system function
- Increases inner strength and self-esteem
- Builds self awareness and positive transformation
- Aids in fertility
- Eases asthma symptoms
- Fights arthritis
- Improves memory
- Encourages self care
As you can see, there are so many possible benefits for both your body and mind. The last benefit listed is “encourages self care.” I believe in the following trifecta of self care as part of my own healthy lifestyle: yoga, chiropractic work and massage. I think these three practices are so important and often overlooked, so this post is the first in a series of three where I will highlight the benefits of these three self care methods that I feel greatly improve quality of life and overall health.
So what do I personally get out of yoga? Well, all of the above over time and through practice on a regular basis…but what I notice most after even one yoga class is mental clarity and awareness, improved mood and gratuity, flexibility, less tension, less back/hip pain and lastly, I always sleep better the night after a practice. These are instant benefits that I see and feel right away and that are improving me for the better. It’s okay to take time for yourself, especially when yoga is involved. Taking time to improve and care for ourselves is a domino effect towards those we interact with daily and those we love the most. We are happier and healthier and can therefore be our best self for others.
I encourage you to give yoga a first or second try. Have patience in finding a type of yoga you enjoy and respond positively to, find a teacher you like and let your busy mind take a break from the daily hustle and bustle. Give yoga a chance to work its magic and give yourself a chance to feel and see the instant and long term benefits.
Lots of love and good health,
Tasha, The Non-Toxic Newbie