'Yoga, that's like stretching right?' is something that I hear quite often from people who have never done yoga before. People who say this are partly correct, however there is so much more to yoga than what people first think. The great thing is that the benefits are available to everyone, whatever age, body shape, fitness ability, flexible or not flexible. There are so many benefits to start practising yoga and it will help improve your life. Here are my 6 main reasons why everyone should start practising yoga:
1. It puts you in a better mood
Many of my students always say they 'feel better' after their yoga classes which just shows how beneficial yoga can be for your mood. I find with yoga there are many options available for certain poses which makes it accessible for most people. There is also no judgement in yoga; so if a student is feeling tired and just wants to rest in child's pose that is completely acceptable. At the end of day, practising yoga is about doing what is right for you, which will always make you feel good.
2. It helps quieten the mind, making you feel more calm
In this day and age we live busy lives where we are constantly doing one thing after the other, thinking about things we've just experienced and planning what we have to do next. At the beginning of most yoga classes, there is time to settle into your yoga practice, taking time to settle the mind and focus on the right here, right now. Throughout the practice, people find their mind and thoughts become more at ease. After practice, many of my students tell me they feel much more calm and things they were worried about are no more. People can gain a different perspective on things and see things in a different more positive light.
3. Helps you stay focused, improves concentration and be more present
In ancient times, the reason we practised Asana (postures) was so that we could enhance our capacity to sit and meditate for long periods of time with as few distractions as possible. It was a way of making it harder to concentrate and focus physically, so that our mind could grow stronger. In modern times, this may not be the main reason why we practice Asana, however it is still very relevant. While holding a challenging posture (like Warrior 3 or Half Moon Pose) a person has to really focus and concentrate, using the breathe really helps to focus the mind and body, being completely present in what is happening right now. Taking this away from your yoga practice, many students say there are able to focus and concentrate much better in their daily lives. They are able to become less reactive to certain things, accept and take things as they come.
4. It makes your body physically strong, balanced and flexible
This is probably the most well know benefit of starting yoga, it is great for your body. Yoga is well known to help stretch out muscles and over time improve flexibility. This is probably the main reason why most people start doing yoga; because they 'can't touch their toes', however most of my students are amazed by how their strength, stability and balance improves through doing yoga and how physically challenging yoga can be. As their bodies get stronger doing these postures, so does their mind.
5. It will improve you posture
With correct alignment, yoga is a great way to help correct postural problems we suffer from in modern day society. Simple asanas like Tadasana (mountain pose) teaches us how to stand properly, ground through our feet and activate muscles we have forgotten how to switch on through repetition of improper alignment. Other postures will help open up our chest and bring our shoulders back and realign our hips. You will learn how to activate muscles you didn't know you even had. All of this together will make you more aware of your body, how it moves and how it should be aligned in certain postures.
6. It will make you mentally strong as well as physically
With continuous practice, many people not only find that their body has become physically strong, but they leave class feeling mentally stronger. As explained before, yoga helps train the mind to be more present, focused and able to concentrate for longer periods of time. Yoga helps us to become more aware of ourselves and everything around us. It makes us more aware of what really is important, accept the good or the bad and be grateful for whatever life brings us. Over time yoga can help train the mind to make better choices, be less reactive to certain situations, and to accept whatever life brings to the table.
If you would like to start practising yoga, I run classes at ReSET Gym, Cheltenham, Tuesdays at 6pm and Thursdays at 10:45, beginners welcome.
I also run private yoga classes either 1-2-1 or with a maximum of 3 people to be booked in at a day and time that suits your schedule. Pop me a message if you would like more information.