My first yoga experience was while I was contesting in a beauty pageant. I remember thinking it was a waste of 30 minutes, cut away from my much needed “beauty sleep”. Why did I have to get out of bed to stretch and meditate when I could just find it on my soft, plush bed? In the end, it was simply 30 minutes of failed pose attempts that ended up in giggles from most of the long-legged girls.
We were told that it would help “increase the flow of our prana, strengthen our chakra and bring energy up our spine”. This made us laugh more than anything else.
Fast forward to the end of boot camp and beyond, and I’m actually thankful I picked it up. Yoga can be a very relaxing way to start or end a day. Even if you think the chants are weird, and sometimes they are, they can still be very relaxing. Here are a few reasons why.
It helps with weight control
Believe it or not, yoga IS exercise. Science used to be of the opinion that aerobics such as cycling, running and other things that keep your heart rate up were the gold standards of exercise. But it has been proven that yoga helps with weight loss and general metabolism. Helping you to burn fat and build muscle. The way it works is that yoga reduces stress levels. And if you’re less stressed, you’re less likely to indulge in stress-induced binge eating. So if you aren’t that into the type of exercise that makes you pant and sweat, try yoga!
Yoga helps to improve your day
A few minutes of Yoga early in the morning wakes up your senses and stretches your body. It helps you feel relaxed as well as alert. It sharpens your senses and makes you more in tune with yourself and your surroundings. That way, you aren’t groggy or tired when you are ready to start your day. Successful people like Oprah Winfrey and Jeff Bezos have been known to have yoga in their morning routine.
It helps you sleep better
Of course, if you do regular exercise, you already know that it helps you have better rest at night. It is the same with yoga, except your body isn’t under that much duress. Yoga at night relaxes your senses, clears your thoughts and declutters your mind. Think of it as closing all the tabs that your brain left open throughout the day. There’s nothing like sleep after yoga.
It perfects your posture
If I had a penny for every time my mom ever said, “Don’t slouch!”, I’d be rich and retired. If I discovered yoga much earlier, I know my case would be much better. The poses in itself, when done properly, help you not to slouch. It strengthens your spine and so helps you sit and stand up straight. If you do yoga consistently, you will find yourself retaining that good posture throughout the day.
It encourages blood flow
Imagine perfecting poses like the handstand(that is still a dream of mine), that turns your body literally upside down. Your blood flow is immensely increased with poses like that and also, the lymph nodes are generally drained. This helps the lymph nodes fight infections and destroy cancer cells.
It makes you happy. I’m not sure I can explain this one. Yoga just makes me feel like I have more space in my lungs for air. It makes me breathe deeper and feel lighter. Yoga definitely makes me happier. Actually, I can explain it. Studies show that yoga increase Serotonin levels and so reduce the risk of depression.
Yoga also helps regulate blood pressure, decrease blood sugar, regulate adrenal glands, helps you focus…etcetera.
Taking into consideration, all the numerous benefits, yoga can be one of the best things you can do for your mind, body and spirit.