Whether you practice at home or at a studio, prefer a standard vinyasa or like to mix it up in a hot environment, you likely already know the euphoric feeling that hits you once you’ve finished with a yoga sequence. You feel more flexible, strong, and connected to your inner self, but for many of us, there are so many reasons to practice yoga on a regular basis.
It can be restorative or a form of strength building (and often, it’s definitely both), and that’s what makes yoga one of the most reliable forms of fitness.
But if you need more reasons to bust out the mat and get to flowing, here are the top 10 reasons you should be practicing yoga, starting today:
In a standard yoga session, you’ll work multiple muscle groups at a time. From fold to bends, and even stretches, you’ll get into moving parts of your body that you normally wouldn’t, paying special attention to target areas that could use a little extra movement. You can customize your flow to focus on areas that tend to be tighter than others — hips, hamstrings, calves, etc. — and make sure that you target the ones that need a little extra love.
If you spend most of your day at a desk, sitting at a chair, you likely have noticed that your posture has been waining in recent years. Maybe you hunch a bit, or your lower back is giving your problems, but chances are that if you tend to sit for the majority of the day, your posture has taken a serious hit. Luckily, yoga is there to help straighten out your spine and to give you the flat back you need.
For most of us, stress seems to be a regular part of our daily lives. Whether its at work or in our personal lives, it seems like stressful moments of anxiety-prone activities are just a normal occurrence, so finding ways to fight back against those overwhelming emotions is key. Enter, yoga. Previous studies have shown that yoga can effectively fight back against stress, and it mostly comes down to breathing techniques. One of the first things you’ll go over in a class is how to breathe during the moves — the inhale, exhale will become second nature to you as you move through poses. And with stress, often the first thing we learn to do should a panic or anxiety attack occur, is to breathe. Simply focusing on our breath, and taking the time to appreciate our body for giving it to us, is an important part of the practice.
And we’re not just taking about finding and showing love as a result of your connected breath. Yoga can go far beyond that. In fact, studies have shown that people who practice yoga regularly tend to have much a lower blood pressure than those who did not. On top of that, a consistent yoga practice has also been shown to help reduce the levels of LDL and cholesterol, helping your heart stay healthy, for much, much longer.
If you’ve been fighting chronic pain for a while, finding more natural ways to help fight and treat it can seem like an impossible feat. But by combining breathing and low-impact movement, such as yoga, you can help to fight through pain and inflammation, one move at a time. But the key to making sure that your yoga doesn’t increase the pains you’re feeling is to simply listen to your body. If a stretch seems to extreme or a move is too tough to get into, simply stop and get into a comfortable “home base,” or child’s pose, for example. Or, if you’d like to attempt the stretch, simply use a block to help you reach the desired position without over-straining your body.
Just like all workouts can help improve your sleep, so can yoga help you fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer. Studies show that yoga is a powerful way to help fight insomnia, and it has actually helped people sleep longer because it stimulates the production of melatonin — which helps you sleep deeper and in higher quality than before.
If you’re looking for a healthy and movement-focused way to fight aging and to boost the production of collagen in your skin, yoga could just be your answer. By incorporating more inverted moves into your sequence, in particular, you can help to increase the blood flow to your face, which stimulates your blood vessels and oxygen flow to your face, promoting more movement to your skin — all ways that you can boost your skin’s natural appearance.
Your gut, as we know, can control and affect nearly every other organ in your body. That means taking care of it, and giving it the love it needs, can help to make it work even more properly and efficiently. So by getting more twist moves into your practice, especially, can help to give your gut and internal organs the right, ahem, movement, they need for proper digestive movement.
If weight loss is your goal, consider adding yoga into your workout schedule. While not the most typical weight loss workout — HIIT workouts and cardio sessions tend to win in popularity here — but yoga helps to build up strength, which, in turn, helps with weight loss. Any kind of movement, especially one which promotes heart health, will help with shedding some serious pounds.
A 2009 study showed that having a consistent yoga practice can help to prevent binge eating, and actually helps people make healthier food and eating choices. Just like yoga incorporates mindfulness while you’re on the mat, the same mindfulness will stay with you post-savasana, a study shows. After you’ve left the studio and rolled up your mat, the study shows you’ll be more likely to opt for healthier foods and dishes, overall.