Yoga is one of the hottest buzzwords in terms of exercising today. Classes are held at just about every gym and there are even specific yoga centres that have emerged to concentrate on just yoga. But just what makes yoga such a popular exercise? Well, it’s relaxing, improves your muscle coordination and helps you connect with your inner self. There are many different levels of yoga available, from intermediate to advanced courses. There are even courses for pregnant women offered by most – if not all – yoga centres.
Here’s a look at five reasons to do yoga and why you should consider adopting yoga as part of your regular exercise regime:
- Meet New Friends: One of the biggest benefits of doing yoga is that it’s an activity that gets you out of your home and opens the door to meeting new friends. Think of your yoga classes as a community of people that share the same interests as you do, in terms of exercising that is. Signing up for a yoga class can help you acquire new friends, for example if you’re in a pre-natal yoga class where you and your fellow classmates share another common characteristic – pregnancy, or if you are a runner you are likely to meet other runners there too.
- Muscle Strength and Flexibility: Yoga isn’t about lifting weights, doing crunches or burning calories on the treadmill, so you might not think that it has a lot of benefits for your muscles and muscle flexibility. If you’re among those who think this way, well, you’re wrong. Yoga improves muscle flexibility and can help you strengthen your muscles, to boot. You might not be sweating like a grease monkey after a yoga workout, but your muscles will thank you later. Don’t think that you don’t get a great workout from yoga. I often hear someone say: I’m just not flexible enough to do yoga. My answer always is: That would be the reason to do yoga – to get flexible.
- Detox: Yoga stretches the muscles. And when you stretch out muscles, you’re also releasing toxins that are stored within the body. So yes, yoga is a sort of detox and it isn’t out of the ordinary for people to share feelings of emotional relief following a yoga session. Twisting and stretching also moves toxins out of your other organs to help with this feeling as well. So yes, while yoga is a great workout, it’s also good for the body and mind. Yin yoga is also a great way to connect the body and mind. These are mostly floor poses, held for a period of time. In Yin yoga, the focus is a little more on the non-muscle parts of the body – the joints, the tendons, the bones – and because these poses are held, one has to commit to becoming still. That brings in the meditative element – connecting mind and body. I encourage my Yin students to really be present in the moment. To notice how the body feels and how that feeling changes in the duration of that pose.
- Relaxation: It’s said that yoga is good for the mind, body and soul. Some yoga styles aren’t a strenuous workout, per se, but more of a relaxing workout. That’s right – while your instructor is leading you through different routines, stretches and exercises, you should be relaxed. How about that for an exercise? One that is good for you and relaxing. And then again, when doing a powerful workout during a Vinyassa or Power flow (some Hatha and Ashtanga yoga flows can be really challenging!), really exerting oneself – what is more relaxing than the end of class, when winding down toward the meditation element of the class? And again – the quieter style of Yin offers relaxation right throughout class.
- Improve Confidence: This final benefit of doing yoga ties in somewhat with all the other benefits of the exercise. That is, doing yoga improves your confidence. The reasons for this are two-fold. As previously mentioned, stretching releases toxins from the muscles and organs, which in turn improves your mood and emotions. This has a trickledown effect on your confidence. Furthermore, it’s said that exercising first thing every day is arguably one of the best ways to ensure you’re off to a good day – because people just generally feel better about themselves, whether they’re doing yoga or other exercise. And finally, nothing improves your confidence quite like seeing results from all the work you’re putting in. And you’ll unquestionably see a payoff from doing yoga if you stick with it for good. Imagine practising and then mastering a challenging pose like peacock or crow or handstand or the splits (monkey pose)! Just think what that would do for your confidence!
Have a wonderful week! Namaste