Benefits of Yoga

IMG_3873.jpg

I started yoga consistently in the summer of 2015. I took a hiatus for about 6 months while I tried other activities like barre. I've started strength training again which I feel is so important and it's really what made me feel better about my body and how it looked and felt. But I am missing something. I'm missing how yoga made my mind AND body feel. Yoga really helped me understand my body. It's so hard to explain until you start practicing. I've added the practice to my schedule along with my regular strength training sessions.

I have heard that strength training and yoga don't mix which is I why I did quit strength training while I was doing yoga. But I don't believe that anymore. I'm not going to extremes (like competing as a bodybuilder) on either activity so I think doing both is just fine! I love doing both and feel so much better physically and mentally!

Here is a great article from the Yoga Journal about the benefits of yoga. They list 28 of them and they are all on point! Here are a couple of benefits directly from the article that may surprise you:

HELPS YOU FOCUS: An important component of yoga is focusing on the present. Studies have found that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores. People who practice Transcendental Meditation demonstrate the ability to solve problems and acquire and recall information better—probably because they're less distracted by their thoughts, which can play over and over like an endless tape loop.

MAINTAINS YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM: Some advanced yogis can control their bodies in extraordinary ways, many of which are mediated by the nervous system. Scientists have monitored yogis who could induce unusual heart rhythms, generate specific brain-wave patterns, and, using a meditation technique, raise the temperature of their hands by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. If they can use yoga to do that, perhaps you could learn to improve blood flow to your pelvis if you're trying to get pregnant or induce relaxation when you're having trouble falling asleep.

GIVE YOU INNER STRENGTH: Yoga can help you make changes in your life. In fact, that might be its greatest strength. Tapas, the Sanskrit word for "heat," is the fire, the discipline that fuels yoga practice and that regular practice builds. The tapas you develop can be extended to the rest of your life to overcome inertia and change dysfunctional habits. You may find that without making a particular effort to change things, you start to eat better, exercise more, or finally quit smoking after years of failed attempts.

HELPS YOU SERVE OTHERS:  (service to others) is integral to yogic philosophy. And while you may not be inclined to serve others, your health might improve if you do. A study at the University of Michigan found that older people who volunteered a little less than an hour per week were three times as likely to be alive seven years later. Serving others can give meaning to your life, and your problems may not seem so daunting when you see what other people are dealing with.

ENCOURAGES SELF CARE: In much of conventional medicine, most patients are passive recipients of care. In yoga, it's what you do for yourself that matters. Yoga gives you the tools to help you change, and you might start to feel better the first time you try practicing. You may also notice that the more you commit to practice, the more you benefit. This results in three things: You get involved in your own care, you discover that your involvement gives you the power to effect change, and seeing that you can effect change gives you hope. And hope itself can be healing.

So besides the expected benefits of flexibility, give yoga a try for some of the other unexpected benefits. You will be glad you did!