The Benefits of Yoga
Unless you’re already a firm believer, you might have heard people talk about all of the wonderful benefits of practicing yoga and have been skeptical that a few stretches here and there could really improve the quality of your life. As it turns out, the benefits of yoga are actually quite visible in many aspects of life—not only can yoga improve your physical health, it can also make you happier, less stressed, and more self-aware than before. And while it may not be a cure-all for any and all symptoms, incorporating even just a few minutes of yoga into your day certainly can lead to an improvement in your physical and mental health over time. Here are just some of the many ways your body and mind can benefit from practicing yoga.
- Be more flexible– One of the most obvious benefits of yoga is that it can help you to become more flexible. When you first begin practicing yoga, you might find that you’re not able to easily achieve every position, or that you struggle to breathe properly when doing so. You might find yourself looking around the room and wondering how others are standing on their heads and bending over backwards without flinching! But don’t let that discourage you; it takes time and lots of practice to get to that point. Getting your body used to stretching and moving will help you become more flexible over time, and you will definitely start to notice a difference the longer you stick with it.
- Prevent injuries– While practicing yoga can make you more flexible, active, and mobile, it can also prevent injuries in the future. Strengthening your muscles and improving your body’s ability to bounce back from injury are some of the best benefits of yoga, especially for older folks who may suffer from things like arthritis, which inhibit your ability to move easily. Allowing your body to ease into yogic poses does more than just give you a stretch, it also makes you more nimble, which can prevent a fall or accident from causing serious or permanent injury.
- Be happier– Yoga can not only make you happier in the moment, but it can also translate to a more positive life. Yoga can help to uplift and regulate your mood, allow you to relax, and even change your outlook on life in general, making you more appreciative, optimistic, and motivated. Practicing yoga can help you to find the silver lining in tough situations, and teach you to overcome small obstacles that once clouded your entire day. Yoga can help you to achieve this by allowing you to clear your mind of negative thoughts and emotions, and deliberately welcoming encouraging and intelligent thoughts that can bring you motivation and positivity. It’s amazing what your mind can do once it flushes out all of the clutter that builds up throughout the day!
- Gain self-awareness– You’ve probably heard that yoga can be extremely mentally therapeutic, giving people a sense of enlightenment and making them more aware and conscious of the world around them. Practicing yoga can allow you to be more in tune with your thoughts, feelings, and motivations, as well as rationalize your inner wants and needs. Self-awareness is important for not only taking responsibility for your actions, but having peace of mind that you’re making the right decisions. It can also help you to gain perspective, something that is especially important for getting through periods of transition, change, or loss.
- Sleep better– That’s right, yoga can actually help you sleep better at night. Not only can you get more hours of sleep, but the quality of your sleep can improve significantly as well. Restorative poses that encourage quiet reflection can be just what you need to end a long day at work. Train your body and mind to “shut off” and embrace the benefits of meditation. Many people who suffer from insomnia view yoga as a great natural way to achieve a sense of calm and get themselves to fall asleep faster. Forward bends can be used to calm the nervous system and make it easier for you to doze off at night.
- Gain patience and an open mind– Yoga is a lifelong journey of learning, transformation, and self-improvement, and a yogi is never truly finished the journey to a better body and mind. Embracing the journey, including all of its setbacks, triumphs, and revelations, are what yoga is all about—so have fun and enjoy the ride!