When I was in high school, I was very inactive. The only exercise I got was in my mandatory gym classes and water polo, my sport of choice. Then I graduated high school and my first two years of college were even more so inactive. I did not have a gym class or sports team to keep my healthy and in shape. Naturally, I put on weight and started to lose muscle form in my body. To put it delicately, I “let myself go”. Byyyyye body. My junior and senior year, I tinkered with was to exercise, from running like a rat on an elliptical, to swimming laps in the pool. Nothing really clicked with me, and I was doing these exercises more to lose weight rather than for the enjoyment of the activity. After college, I discovered yoga. A while back, I thought it would be an interesting activity to try. I started myself off with Erin Motz’s DoYouYoga 30 Day Challenge. This gave me the task to finish it through to the end (thanks OCD for this one). At the end of 30 Days, I was a new yogi junkie. I never realized how many amazing benefits there are to yoga, and this activity has been a wonderful, positive change in my life that has helped me in many ways.
Here are some amazing benefits that I discovered about yoga:
1. It is a Great Form of Exercise: I used to be under the assumption that yoga was just some white girl workout that woman did for social bonding rather than actual exercise. Boy was I wrong. Yoga has helped me tone and tighten my entire body, building my muscles through the various poses. That is one great thing about yoga…it works your whole body. Not only is it good for toning, but it can be a cardio workout as well, especially when doing one-breath sequences or vinyasas. Granted, this type of cardio isn’t equal to running, but I have found myself with a racing heart at the end of some of these videos.
2. It Helps you Relax: Some yoga poses can be quite relaxing and sleep inducing, but the relaxing qualities of yoga do not stop there. Yoga has also helped ease my overactive mind. When doing yoga, I shift my attention to my body, keeping my posture correct, taking deep breaths, and being aware of any tightness in my muscles. I am listening to my body. This is a form of mindfulness for me, and I can fully enjoy the moment when I am practicing yoga.
3. Amazing Health Benefits: Due to it’s stupendous versatility, yoga can help with many different types of chronic disease and improve your overall health. Yoga has been shown to help with reducing heart disease and high blood pressure, reducing anxiety and depression, as well as pain relief and aiding insomnia. One of Erin’s videos is about twist poses. Doing twist poses helps with digestion and increasing your metabolism. There are also poses for balance and flexibility.
4. Connected me to my Chi: Whether it’s Chi or Chakras, yoga has allowed me to connect with my energy field. Through focused yoga/meditation, I have been strengthening my energies and energizing them too. There are great poses, such as warrior poses, that give me this powerful energy. There is also specific yoga, such as kundalini yoga, which awakens the energies within us from the root to the crown chakra. I have even placed healing crystals and stones on my yoga mat to connect to a specific chakra, or on a nice sunny day, I take my mat outside and get the added benefits of nature to energize and strengthen my chakras.
5. Increases your self-esteem: For me, yoga was this amazing tool that not only transformed my body, but my mind as well. My mood improved dramatically and I can’t quite explain why. Perhaps it was the fact that is shifted my attention outside of my mind and let it focus on the present, that it made me pay attention to the tiny details, that it toned my body, helped me sleep, relieved my achy body…I could go on. Like I said, yoga has been this life altering practice that has impacted every part of my being: body, mind, and soul.
I encourage you to try Do You Yoga’s 30 Day challenge, or any form of yoga to get you started. Take a class, look for a video on youtube, whatever your method maybe, and watch this activity work its wonders on you!