1. Yoga increases flexibility and builds muscle strength
The first thing you might feel is that your body starts to open up. Moving and stretching in new ways will help you become more flexible, bringing a greater range of motion to tight areas. Holding poses over the course of several breaths also help build muscular strength. As we age, our bodies usually get stiff, especially if you spend a lot of time sitting, which leads to pain and immobility. Yoga can help reverse this process by improving our flexibility and strength.
2. Yoga improves your balance, focus, and concentration
Yoga was traditionally a method of preparation for meditation, and yoga classes today still include meditation sessions and mindfulness practices to help you improve your ability to focus. One example is simply practising mindfulness. Giving your full attention to each physical posture your teacher guides you into empowers you to take that same focus into your day-to-day life. Living life with this awareness allows you to focus on one task at a time without distractions. Mindfulness practices have been shown to create changes in the areas of the brain involved in memory and learning processes, reducing fatigue, and improving attention spans.
3. Yoga decreases stress, depression, and anxiety
Yoga classes include a unique combination of physical movement, breathwork, and meditation, all of which have been shown to improve mental health and well-being. Pranayama, or breath exercises, focus on controlling the breath in order to calm down the autonomic nervous system. Giving this attention to the breath gives our body physical cues to relax, decreasing stress and anxiety and creating a sense of control over physical symptoms of stress.
4. Yoga makes you feel more energetic, loving, and kind
Another reason why yoga is so beneficial is that yoga does not ask for perfection - it asks you to accept and embrace your physical and mental state. Not every pose is accessible for everyone, but by exploring your own body through the different asana, you feel connected to yourself and have the opportunity to practise self-love. One example of this is loving-kindness meditation - This meditation focuses on gently cultivating loving-kindness towards oneself and the world around us. It is a wonderful way to begin to plant the seeds of love within, that will also impact our way of being in our lives.
5. Yoga reconnects you to your true self and inner peace
There is so much diversity within the world of yoga; some styles offer the chance to move dynamically and strengthen your muscles, while others ask you to slow down and rest. But all of them require that you reconnect to yourself and inner peace. Yoga is based on ancient philosophies that guide each yogi through this process. Tools such as meditation practices, challenging postures, and breathing exercises encourage you to break free of patterns that no longer serve you. Through exploring the world of yoga, you are able to realign with your authentic self and feel a deep sense of peace and connection.
Want to begin your own practice but not sure where to start? See our Introduction to Yoga program to help you find the perfect practice for you.