If you want to do yoga there has never been a better time to start especially with so many resources and tools available. There are many benefits to yoga and you probably want to experience them if you are thinking of starting on this path.
The great part about yoga is that you can begin practising at home. Many newcomers feel overwhelmed when they imagine yoga to be this acrobatic, aerial sport. In fact, yoga is perfect for anyone, at any level they start at, and achieving those perfect poses is not the end goal.
What is yoga?
Yoga is a floor-based workout where you don’t need any special equipment other that a comfy mat. Even so, a soft carpet or rug can be quite enough to offer support for practising yoga. Yoga has a very old history as it has been around since ancient times.
In its place of origin, namely, India, yoga is part of a spiritual practice. This metaphysical part of yoga has mostly been stripped away, in the west at least. But yoga is still a spiritual practice in a sense.
You can do yoga as an actual workout
In the beginning, you could have a hard time with yoga as you build up flexibility and endurance. It can be quite the workout throughout your practice so if you want to do yoga just for the workout, you can. Yoga is structured in a series of movements or flow so it works much like reps at the gym.
You can pick and choose your own flow depending on the level of exercise you find yourself at. Most often you don’t count reps or seconds to sustain a pose, but you may count deep breaths.
Some yoga flows target specific areas of the body and that works nicely, especially in the beginning. Over time, this workout builds up and increases endurance and strength.
Yoga improves breathing
When you begin to do yoga, you will see just how much focus is placed on the breath. Deep breaths accompany everything in yoga and it applies a certain intentionality to every movement you make. Deep breathing is associated with anxiety relief and yoga can offer the base for practising it.
Back pain relief
Much of the basic movements from yoga help improve mobility and as such improves back pain. A lot of the warm-up yoga flows focus on the spine posture and breathing cycle, which in turn relieves pain. The cat-cow pose is one of the very first poses every beginner will try and it is also very efficient.
Other stretches will derive from the basics and warm-ups that will make a difference in the long run.
Certain exercises are perfect for waking up or gearing down to go to sleep. Back pain is quite difficult to manage during the day, but it gets increasingly worse at night for some. Possibly due to ageing or the fact that we don’t move around as much in our sleep. All this makes falling asleep harder and waking up painful.
Yoga has this little bonus benefit that it brings along. A few stretches before bed can help alleviate pain and prepare your body for a longer sitting in your sleep. Over time this makes sleeping far more enjoyable and less painful.
Building up strength
Yoga primarily uses your own body weight during each session or pose. It may not seem as intensive as lifting weights but it still counts toward building strength. The stretches poses, and yoga flows you go through not only build up strength but also help relieves muscle tension.
Yoga improves posture
Posing, breathing and seating straight with head over heart and heart over the pelvis, as the practice usually begins, improves posture. Repetition is important in yoga and these small things repeated over time benefit your posture.
If you want to take up yoga just to improve your posture, then it’s worth it for that alone. People that work desk jobs are the ones that are most affected by bad posture. Yoga is the way to go in trying to get a better posture.
Wanting to be flexible is not the biggest goal for many of us. Although flexibility is also not something you would want to miss out on. Of course, the end goal for many of us is not to be able to contort in difficult poses. Flexibility can just mean being able to bend down and reach your toes just so you can tie your shoes.
As simplistic as it sounds, some of us aren’t very flexible or certain medical conditions can inhibit flexibility. Yoga is a means to achieve better flexibility, both to be able to perform some more difficult poses, but also to feel more comfortable.
When you do yoga you will most likely enter some sort of meditative state. Whether on the breath, your body’s movements, or an image of tranquillity, yoga is a medium of meditation. Meditation as part of the workout is an integral part of yoga and as a result, it also has side benefits.
With meditation, you give the mind time to process certain events, and feelings. It can even offer a small time-out away from any active thought. This is a great way to know your body and feel its limitations or abilities. Each stretch or pose feels deeper or more intense when paired with meditation.
Working out in general is a stress management technique, but yoga seems to take it one step further. Breathing exercises in combination with meditation and physical work-out make yoga quite a powerful tool to manage stress.
There are so many good reasons to do yoga with many health benefits attached to it. Working out is a healthy endeavour regardless, but yoga can bring varied benefits to your health.
Yoga can be as intensive as you wish and you can start at any level. Meditation, deep breathing, stretches and sustained yoga poses all come together in a yoga flow to bring many health benefits. You can gain such benefits as improved sleep, less back pain and much less rigidity.