If there was only one thing I could recommend to people willing to have a healthier lifestyle, it would definitely be yoga.
First, be aware that I’m not going to describe what yoga is here; you can probably find a bunch of information on its origins and principles online.
No, what I want to talk about is actually the number of different benefits you can get, at so many different levels, just by including one or two yoga classes into your weekly routine. Trust me, doing that will have a significant impact on your life and it will pay in the long run.
Alright, so before I start, I would like to break some prejudices I have heard too often about the practice itself:
- I can’t do yoga because I am not flexible enough.
Well, I would say that this is EXACTLY why you should start to do yoga. Of course, you will not directly be able to look like the kickass ballerina executing a perfect split right next to you, but who cares ? This will get even worst if you’re actually not doing it at all ! You really need to be patient here, you need to take your time, and if you are sufficiently consistent, you will see a relatively fast improvement in your flexibility.
- I’m too fat to do yoga.
What can I say to that ? Really ? No, get rid of that stupid idea from your mind, do it, now ! You’re not too fat. Yoga will actually helps you to reconnect with your body, no matter how you look from the outside. Period. No debate on that.
- Yoga is only for ladies.
“Yoga ? You’re kidding me ? Men need to do workouts that require real physical efforts.” (obviously something you could hear from men). Honestly guys, if you think yoga is not going to work out your muscles enough, you are wrong. I can guarantee you that you will sweat like hell at your first yoga session. I’ve been doing martial arts, including lots of free weights training, plyometric works and so on for my entire life, but I have to say that I discovered some new muscles in my body the first time I tried yoga. Obviously, you are not going to yoga classes to build muscle mass, but most of the work done there is made in an “isometric” way, which is well known for actually increasing your overall strength, as well as contributing in burning fat and building muscle faster… So in the end, it is actually a great complement to your other workouts !
By tackling the myths, I actually already gave you quite an overview of why yoga is an amazing thing. But let’s not stop here, let’s see what are some other benefits you can get out of it:
- Yoga is the perfect complement to any other sport you are doing.
It is a low-impact and a good calorie-blasting activity; it is known for improving the durability of your joints and muscles, while increasing your range of motion and bringing you big gains about your global flexibility. All of this is going to help you to stay away from injuries. About that, there is a sentence from YuMee Chung (a recovering lawyer who teaches yoga in Toronto) that I really like, which is “Yoga shines a spotlight on all the blind spots you’ve developed from years of training”. To me, this is such a relevant sentence. I’ve been an athletic person for a while, but only until I started to do yoga did I discover my weaknesses. Try it, and you’ll understand what I am talking about !
- It’s a good way to relieve stress.
Some people see yoga just as a stretching and “holding-stances” activity, but it is much more than that. Practicing yoga promotes relaxation, serenity, and helps to manage stress and anxiety we’re accumulating from our busy daily lives. You will learn to control your breath by using different techniques (what they call “pranayama”), which will help you to breath more effectively, by using your diaphragm muscle to fill your entire lung capacity. Just by doing that, your connection between your mind and your body will be improved, you will feel more balanced and harmonious.
- It will improve your posture
But what does this mean exactly ? Well, in other words, I could say that yoga is good for your back (i.e. your spine). In this modern world, with the evolution of our societies, we became sedentary. We are spending more and more time on sofa watching TV at home, and most of us are sitting all day in front of desk because of work. I’m not even talking about the arrival of the smartphones era, where you can see everybody head down on their devices in public transportations everyday… Both together are not good for your health, and can even in the long run cause you to have what is called “hyperkyphosis” (and trust me, you don’t want to have that). By having a good posture, you will not only avoid this kind of back issues later on your life; it will actually allow you to use your muscles more efficiently, improve your breathing, as well as make you look better (it will boost your confidence) !
There is probably a lot more that you can get from yoga; I didn’t talk about all the spiritual aspects of it for example. Feel free to dig a bit more on that. About what I said, I personally believe that it is the best complement that we all need to add into our lives, to actually reach another level of growth and accomplishment. So go out there and find a yoga studio, give it a try, and let me know how it feels !
Hope you like the article, and feel free to give any comments or suggestions !