I’ve always enjoyed exercise but never enjoyed spending time at the gym. Growing up I practiced ballet and loved every bit of it - the discipline, the routine, the structure, the competition and opportunity to constantly improve. After getting older I still enjoy attending classes but ballet is really hard on my joints. I moved into taking long walks hiking and finally made the decision to go to a free yoga class. After the first class back in October 2018 I decided to enroll in a yoga studio (because they had a newcomer special) and sign up for unlimited classes. I started going almost every day. Within 3 months I noticed significant changes in my body, mind and soul. Yoga gave me all of the benefits of cardio, stretching and meditation leaving me after each session with a better appreciation for my body and a clearer mind. Here are the five life-changing benefits of yoga I’ve experienced.
Yoga is about progress not perfection
Being a highly competitive OCD spirit, I tend to overachieve in anything I put my mind to. Yoga changed my perception of exercise. No longer was I consumed with perfecting each movement or pose. Instead I learned how to measure progress. Many of the poses you learn to hold in yoga take time to build physical strength and making a connection between your body and mind. How refreshing! I could show up to a class, focus on doing my best, taking breaks if needed and over time I experienced improvement! The pressure of being perfect started to disappear and improvement started showing up more and more in my body. I started feeling better, lighter and stronger.
Provides a moving meditation for busy minds
If you are new to meditation and find sitting still for just 10 minutes is difficult, then consider yoga. Yoga provides a way to move your body and clear your mind. Meditation creates focus and clarity by training your mind. I found that during yoga sessions I focused on aligning my body, moving through each pose, and awaiting the next instruction from the yoga instructor. I focused on aligning my body, moving through each pose and awaiting instruction. I listen and follow the instructor without judgement but appreciation for my own body. Eventually, I was able to carry that same clarity into other areas of my life including seated meditation.
Significant increase in muscle tone and definition
Yoga works all of your major muscle groups when you are doing a full body flow to build strength. But what about definition and toning? Well, yoga has an added benefit by working your accessory muscles. Accessory muscles are the tiny muscles in the body that when you work them, they create those stream toned lines you see in ballet dancers, swimmers, and yogis. Depending on the type you decide to practice, you’ll be able to quickly build strength and definition in your arms, legs and abs.
Yoga uses resistance training with your body’s weight to build strength
One was how of the surprising changes I noticed was how yoga improved the strength of my body. When I started out last October my body felt heavy as I would lower down from plank through a vinyasa. Moving through positions were sometimes so difficult that I’d have to take frequent breaks. I’d leave class and my arms would feel shaky. Over time (a matter of weeks) I was able to execute each move with more ease. I noticed if I lifted something heavy at home I did it with ease. After a few months, I was able to venture into arm balancing positions that required much more strength.
Improved concentration and sleep
Getting my mind to chill is a lifelong struggle. Yoga improves anxiety after just one session. Everyday I practice yoga I get a better night of rest. I feel happier and relaxed. I am able to fall asleep with little tossing and turning. When I decrease anxiety and manage stress I am able to get better rest. The quickest results I’ve experienced has been as a result of yoga. When I’m relaxed and have a clear mind sleep improves. When sleep improves, anxiety decreases. They go hand in hand.
Since those first three months I now practice yoga in my home and lead groups of women in recovery for substance abuse. I have a goal to become a certified instructor so I can share this practice with a broader group. I’m hosting an online event with my friend Brittany sharing info about ZIYA. I’m wearing ZIYA workout gear in today’s photos and they are 1/3 of the cost of Lululemonwear made by the exact same manufacturer. Shoot me a Facebook message or email and I’ll add you to the event! It’s running from now until Sunday!