Why should you try yoga? When someone first suggested yoga to me, I laughed at the idea of putting aside valuable workout time just to stretch a little bit. I was so wrong. Here are some reasons why yoga is an incredible addition to your arsenal:
- Flexibility: Let’s start with the obvious. Yoga makes you flexible. Why is flexibility important? Let me tell you, I scoffed at the idea of stretching. Now, I would be upset if I was inflexible. Once you become flexible, you will love how easier it feels to move about in your every day life. Blood starts flowing better and hey, some people have actually said they’ve gotten taller. Flexibility is important because it helps prevent injuries and you get less brittle as you age (read: it keeps you younger longer). Imagine your body like spaghetti. When it’s dry and something pushes at it, it breaks. When it’s wet, it becomes pliant and if something pushes at it, if just bends. So bend, don’t break. Go with the flow. Be like the water. And any other similarly corny lines.
- Mental clarity: Second most obvious – it’s meditative. Not because you sit there and clear your mind (which is actually extremely hard) but because you end up becoming so focused on trying to stay balanced on that one leg that you push all other thoughts out of your mind and just for that one moment, you are living in the moment. When you are thinking about everything else, you let the moment you are living in slip away. Also, some yoga postures specifically help increase blood flow to your brain and help clear those cobwebs away. Take inversions, for example. Putting your body upside down gets the blood flowing in a different direction but also gets you into different perspectives.
- Strength: Yoga is amazing because it strengthens all these tiny little muscles that get ignored by other exercises. These tiny little muscles are important because they help the bigger muscles gain so much more. Don’t ignore the little people! Yoga is also amazing because the postures require many parts of your body to work in harmony in such minute detail so you get stronger in multiple areas at once.
- Balance: Obviously, you will learn how to balance better. You start balancing on one leg while the other leg is dangling somewhere else, you balance your body on your two hands, and eventually you could balance your body on your fingertips or just your head! I’m not there yet so I won’t be showing that. Yoga also teaches you balance in other ways. You learn to listen to your body and you start to pay attention to which side of your body is different, and in what ways, from the other side. You learn how to back off if need be and you learn how much your body can accomplish.
- Detoxification: We are all storing toxins in our body from everything – the air, the chemicals in our soaps, the food we eat, etc. It takes time for our bodies to get those toxins out and if you are too toxic, the body starts breaking down. Yoga helps give that body the edge it needs. Some poses increase blood circulation, some poses stimulate the lymph nodes and particular organs in the body, some poses wring out your body as if it’s a wet towel, etc. If you try out hot yoga, you also get to have the added benefit of having the toxins leech out of your skin via your sweat. Some of the postures also have helped people release their emotions (in other words, emotional detoxification)
- You’re so vain, I betcha think this song is about you: Yeah, it makes you look better, too. It lengthens your body and makes you more lean. The improved circulation makes you look healthier and improves your skin tone as you shed that dry skin. You may also start eating better. The more yoga you do, the more you pay attention to your body and realize it’s a haven and start wanting to eat cleaner. Or, you do yoga after eating junk food and feel absolutely horrible throughout the postures and realize you never want to feel so disgusting again and swear off that junk food for months. Both have happened to me. And finally, you get to show off to everyone what cool things you can do now and how you can contort your body or stand on one leg longer than them.