In case you ever wondered, Yoga is one of the most ancient ways to train both your body and mind at the same time. It has its origin in India, where only there, the outstanding culture and religion could create the perfect environment for such a powerful practice to be born.
By yoga, we don’t just mean the physical practice, but also the philosophy and religion behind it. This practice combines breathing exercises, asanas (poses) and meditation techniques.
As such, the benefits of yoga are not only targeting the body, but the mind and soul as well. Let’s see together what yoga is all about and why it has gained so much popularity in the West over the last decades.
Physical benefits of yoga in the mornings
The following physical benefits of yoga can be easily seen by those who practice it. These benefits show up almost instantly, after about a week of you practicing every morning.
- Muscle strength is the most noticeable one. There are many asanas in yoga that really aim to boost endurance all over the body, without using any gym equipment; just your own body. Which makes it fascinating.
- Flexibility is another benefit which you will notice after regular practice, and which you don’t acquire at the gym (don’t expect miracles unless you are a child prodigy or something).
- Good posture comes also with practice. Most of the asanas tend to open up your chest, stretch your upper back and shoulders and leave you with a great self-confidence to walk around.
- Core balance is also improved, as you learn not to fall that often and you become aware of the space around you. Balance on the mat brings also inner balance.
- Protection or healing from injuries. It’s true; many athletes practise yoga as a complementary workout to prevent themselves from injuries or to relieve aches after training.
- Breathing/Respiration improvement. It has been found that through breathing exercises yoga may relieve asthma symptoms and create healthier lungs. Deep inhalation/exhalation is one of the first things you learn when starting yoga, in order to filter the air and breathe better.
Other benefits have been researched extensively but the results have been doubted. Yoga may cure, up to a point, arthritis and headaches or migraines. It can also lower the blood pressure if you happen to be hypertensive, and get your heart rate up if you follow more rigorous training.
Another thing is that it relieves the lower back pain with the help of certain asanas. Lastly, digestive disturbances seem to be alleviated with yoga poses. (This is also one of the benefits of being Vegan)
These are only some of the functions that yoga applies its therapeutic properties. Successfully or not, is yet to be confirmed.
Mental and emotional benefits of doing yoga
- Stress/anxiety relief. Perhaps the most important mental benefit, which actually made yoga so famous nowadays. It helps to calm down your anxious mind while using the ‘living in the present’ motto. As a result, you get a better/deeper sleep.
- Mental well being. Meaning feeling a happier person and possessing a great positive attitude towards life despite the troubles and obstacles (well, I know you are not a superhero, but try to smile more)
- Body/Self-awareness. Both the asanas and the meditative part of practising yoga play their role here. By calming your mind, you might be more in a position to realize if something is wrong within, which makes for a great self-tool.
- More focus. In case you find yourself rather inattentive or have difficulties with concentration, yoga might be able to make things a lot easier. The good news is that together with concentration you achieve coordination and better memory as well.
- Inner strength. Same with making you strong physically, it can also make you a strong character. Yoga has the power to transform your inner self, by giving you tools to change anything you don’t like, care more about yourself or even be more kind and open to others.
- Higher self esteem. Not to be underestimated; Quite sadly, confidence is not a trait that everyone possesses. Building it over time requires much effort and persistence, and it does make you feel better and ready to conquer the world should you wish.
Can children practice yoga?
Yes indeed. It seems that more and more schools have started including yoga on their curriculum since it has numerous benefits for the kids. Yoga for children though is done through a more fun and playful way, using songs or story-telling to keep them engaged as they tend to be easily distracted.
Except for the physical strength, the kids also learn about mindfulness, how to concentrate better, as well as coordination and balance. Isn’t it great to learn how to be mindful and happy from such a young age?
Some common questions about yoga
Is yoga dangerous?
It can be if you don’t know what you’re doing. When you do any movements or balancing that involves being upside down, or in a strange position, it can be dangerous but you just need to use common sense and not push yourself beyond what you think you can do.
Can yoga prevent you falling over?
Believe it or not, yoga can actually make you less likely to fall over. This is especially useful for slightly older people who might be more prone to falling. It works by strengthening your lower body and core, meaning you’re less likely to fall over!
Can yoga build muscle?
Yes. By practicing yoga in the right way, you can develop and strengthen all of your muscles and get very toned. But, you have to actually practice it! The best time to practice is first thing in the morning while you’re still relaxed.
Am I too old for yoga?
Nope. If you can still move, you can do Yoga, and that’s the great thing about it. You can build from whatever level of fitness you currently have and just improve from there.
What if I’m not flexible enough for yoga?
Everyone can improve their flexibility, so even if you’re not very flexible when you first start out, you’ll soon improve and be able to do those complicated poses you see girls doing on Instagram!
Can you do yoga while pregnant?
Yes you can, but while pregnant you need to be careful with which positions you attempt. You’re limited by your body and how much you can move, so make sure to ask your instructor what you should and shouldn’t be doing. Don’t try and practice yoga alone while pregnant.
The list with the benefits is probably endless. Remember that everyone has a different body and mind that reacts also differently when stimulated. Feelings and sensations when someone practises Yoga might differ as well. Discover for yourself how you can benefit from yoga and explore this beautiful body-mind connection.
The risk for physical injuries also exists, as with all forms of exercise. Pushing yourself too hard or not being mindful, will only harm you. So, take your time and don’t rush to see results. There is no winner here; enjoy the journey and forget the destination.