Whether you’re looking to improve your posture, build your confidence or boost your mood, the health benefits of yoga are endless.
Yoga is one of my favorite forms of exercise but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, I never stepped foot on a yoga mat for the first 25 years of my life. My love affair with yoga began eight years ago, shortly after I embarked on my weight loss journey. For the first time in my life, I was working out regularly by going to Curves three days a week. Since that left me with four open days, I decided to pick up a cheap Yoga for Beginners DVD that I could do from my apartment any time of day, any day of the week. The rest was history and I was hooked almost immediately.
Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or interested in learning more, here are nine reasons why I make it a priority to practice yoga regularly. Like anything, it typically takes about six weeks to form a new habit so I encourage you to give it a try and stick with it. Before you know it, you’ll be doing #YogaEveryDamnDay too.
Opportunity to Unplug: In the world of technology and social media, it can be hard to unplug. Yoga is one full hour of being completely tuned out and disconnected from the never-ending social media hamster wheel and I absolutely love it. Guess what I’m thinking about when I’m doing the frog pose? Hint: Not Twitter. Pictured above at the #ChiTownRetreat with two of my favs: Monique and Lynn.
Prevents Injury: As much as I wish I could do #YogaEveryDamnDay, the truth is, I like to do a wide variety of exercises to avoid boredom. That means some days are spent doing wall squats or kettle bell swings while other days I go to kickboxing or boot camp. All of this wear and tear on my muscles actually causes them to shorten and tighten which, if not properly stretched and lengthened, can cause injury. Yoga helps to gently elongate and strengthen muscles which increases blood circulation and helps prevent injury.
Encourages Mindful Eating: At the beginning of my weight loss journey, tracking every bite of food I ate and counting every calorie burned from exercise was, hands down, the reason for my success. Now that I’m at a healthy weight and in maintenance mode, I rely more and more on mindful eating and being aware of my body’s natural cues. Practicing yoga has helped me learn how to slow down and be more in tune with my body’s natural hunger signals.
Increases Flexibility: While I was born with a good amount of flexibility (I’ve always been able to do the splits), that doesn’t mean that I want to lose it as I age. Interestingly enough, science hasn’t yet proved that yoga itself increases flexibility; rather, yoga trains the nervous system to allow yourself to relax enough to enjoy a deeper stretch.
Mood Booster: One of my yoga instructors said it perfectly recently after class: “Hopefully all of you are leaving in a better mood than you came in with an hour ago.” I’ve never left yoga in a bad mood, ever. I won’t bore you with medical studies but research suggests that practicing yoga causes the brain to produce certain chemicals that help reduce anxiety and improve your mood.
Better Posture: Whether you sit at a desk all day or spend too much time checking your cell phone, chances are we can all use a little reminder to keep those shoulders back and sit up straight. Not only does improved posture make you look taller and slimmer but it is better on your spine. When I am at my desk or sitting anywhere for a long period of time, I always use a BackJoy cushion which helps tilt the hips upright for better posture.
Improves Bone Health: Believe it or not, after the age of 30 we begin to lose bone mass slowly as we age. To help keep our bones healthy and prevent Osteoporosis, practicing yoga is an effective weight-bearing exercise to promote bone growth which helps fights against the inevitable bone loss over time. However, unlike running and various other weight-bearing exercises, yoga doesn’t stress the joints or damage cartilage.
Builds Confidence: Let’s face it, you feel pretty bad ass when you finally nail a pose that took months and months of practice (or years in the case of the flying bird pose above!) Yoga requires patience and acceptance of the fact that if you’re not falling on your face every once in awhile, you’re not growing. This self-acceptance and sense of accomplishment with each advancement is a huge confidence booster.
Quiets the Mind: One of the most valuable lessons you’ll learn from practicing yoga is learning how to breath properly. Of course, learning proper breathing techniques is only possible if you slow down and force the brain to be still. This sense of calm and peace that I experience during yoga is pretty much the exact opposite of the rest of my day spent working from home juggling client deadlines with my one and three year olds crawling on my lap. Yoga is my me time and I cherish every single quiet second.
So now that I’ve shared a few reasons why I practice yoga regularly, I want to hear from all of you. Why do you practice yoga? If you’ve never experience yoga before, why do you look forward to trying it out? I’d love to hear from you. And be sure to tag @TheLemonBowl on Instagram if you are sharing any yoga photos!