The other night I decided to try Jillian Michael’s Yoga Meltdown (you can try Level 1 for free on YouTube). I never though yoga would ever be a good workout. I figured it would be a great way to get some stretching in but didn’t realize just HOW MUCH body strength it takes all around and how much it would raise my heart rate at parts. The entire workout is about 35 minutes and runs in circuits, like most of her workout DVDs. I found the video easy to follow and felt mega relaxed afterwards and even during parts of it with certain positions.
All of this is to say that I am looking forward to exploring more yoga videos and maybe even a class at some point. Here are the 6 top benefits of practicing yoga:
1) Relaxation – yoga encompasses a variety of poses that stretch out your body in new ways. I always do my regular stretches after a cardio workout but many yoga moves put you in new poses and positions you’d never be in otherwise. I found myself relaxing and having to focus on my breathing more to hold the poses, and became relaxed in the process. Yoga encourages you to take deep breaths and hold your stomach in and your back straight for good form.
2) Focus & Mentality – Many poses can be uncomfortable or extremely difficult at first. You may find yourself having to focus on your breathing, your balance, and your mind frame as you enter into a pose. This makes us more aware of our bodies as well as the multitude of body functions that have to come together to make a single stretch work. The more you practice and focus your energy in yoga, the more you’ll be able to focus in real life at work, in relationships, with alone time, etc. It’s like working a muscle in your body and mind at the same time. Yoga can also help improve your mood. As you become more relaxed and aware of your mind and body, it can be easier to have a clearer conscious and be more observant instead of instantly reacting to things negatively.
3) Flexibility & Balance – I was amazed at how much balance and strength it took to do a lot of the poses in the video. I can only see this improving over time. Flexibility can help in many ways as well, I always sleep better when I’ve been stretching regularly.
4) Stress Relief & Mental Calmness – Yoga can be extremely calming and relaxing. Just take a couple deep breaths in and out as you read this and you’ll instantly feel more at ease. Postures have also been shown to help with anxiety and help improve your sense of well-being. Check out some of the best poses for stress relief.
5) Pain Management & Relief – regular yoga sessions can help strengthen your back and help with muscle soreness and tension. Lower back pain is a huge issue for many individuals and most people tend to ignore the back when hitting the gym. Yoga focuses on your entire body and a lot of attention is given to strengthening and loosening up your back and your flexibility. It’s also been shown to help with migraines and headaches.
6) Increased mindfulness – as we become more aware and in-tune with our bodies, we also become more mindful of how we treat them and the ways in which different foods and activities make us feel. A study at the University of Washington showed that regular yoga practice increases the connection between the mind and the body and makes individuals more aware of how different emotions and foods make them react in daily life. This means that many people were able to better handle food cravings through regular yoga practice.
Here are some basic poses to start with. Try to hold each position for 20-30 seconds. If you can’t do the full extent of one, that’s fine, do what you can. In about a week you’ll start to see how flexible you become!