Wednesday 26 June 2019

Four Benefits of Yoga to get you onto the Mat

{collaborative content} Are you a yoga avoider? Do you feel like you might like to give yoga a try but suspect you’ll look funny with your hands and feet on the ground and your tail in the air? Or lying on your back with your feet in the air? Do you find it hard to sign up for yoga when it doesn’t look like those slow movements would help you lose weight?

Yoga can be quite intimidating if you’ve never tried it before. And if you’re someone who doesn’t like to follow the crowd, the fact that fifteen million other people in the world are doing yoga won’t be enough to get you to sign up for your first class. If you’re someone who likes to choose things for yourself, understanding the benefits of yoga might be the push you need to get your feet above your head and your elbows under your knees. Here are four benefits to tempt you onto the mat.

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Beat Stress And Enhance Your Mood
Most versions of yoga integrate the practice of certain meditation techniques, which help you calm the mind. Focusing on your own breath works to quieten the incessant chatter that goes on in your head all day. The sense of stillness in the mind helps you relax. While many people choose to do yoga postures without focusing on the breath, performing the breathing along with the postures changes the practice from a beneficial physical exercise into a powerful way to calm down and reconnect with yourself. The breathing also boosts your brain’s oxygen levels, which can make you feel more content in your day-to-day life.

Mega Body Confidence Booster
Yoga is often referred to as a moving form of meditation because of the focus on stilling the mind. Performed in a meditative state, yoga can boost your confidence dramatically. Rather than criticising your body for what it can’t do, or how it looks, in yoga you are encouraged to focus on the here and now, which means accepting what your body is like in the moment. This mindset helps relieve tension in the mind as you practice. You stop worrying about what your body looks like in favour of experiencing the body as it is. This allows you to feel more content and confident in your body. The resulting sense of wellbeing enables you to forge a meaningful connection with your body. You will stop seeing it for what it is not, and start seeing it as it is.

Kicking Bad Habits
Overeating is an unhealthy habit that many people struggle with. While our image-obsessed society might encourage you to think that the main reason you should lose weight is the way you look, yoga practitioners know that there are many more subtle issues at play when the body is carrying too much weight. If your weight is cause for concern, you may be experiencing profound imbalances in your daily life, which could be primarily stress-related. Regular yoga practice will enable you to relax deeply and connect to your body. A state of heightened awareness of your body and mind creates the perfect conditions for giving what your body needs and avoiding things that will cause it harm, like overeating, drinking alcohol, or smoking. If you’re trying to to stop smoking, yoga is a brilliant companion to the other measures you are trying to put in place to help you towards that goal. Whatever bad habit you are trying to kick, a closer relationship with your body will help you stop obsessing about your bad habits and naturally move toward more healthy practices.

Reduced Injury Risk
Yoga is one of the best companion exercises for other sports, and can be gentle enough to practice on your days off. If you’re a runner, for example, you know that there is a risk of injury if you do not stretch adequately, or if your body is imbalanced in some way, or if you do not have sufficient strength in the muscles that support the joints. In fact, running may be causing many of these imbalances, rather than improving them. One of the focuses of yoga is balancing opposing muscle groups. The idea is to remove imbalances from the body by stretching and strengthening the whole body equally. What could be better for a runner? Another way yoga helps avoid injury is that it is a low impact exercise. If you’re playing impact sport all the time, you’re more likely to injure your joints over time than if you switch out one of your training days for yoga.
Whether you’re afraid of looking weird, or you’re dubious about the culture surrounding yoga, remembering these benefits will encourage you to give it a try.

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