Let us start with the biggest mistake people make in their perceptions of yoga. People look at yoga classes and see mostly fit, toned individuals and are quick to categorize it as something only for the athletic. While it is true that many athletic people dabble in yoga, it is also true that many people got athletic thanks to yoga! I personally started yoga when I was overweight and unfit enough to climb two to three stories of stairs in one go. I may not have a six-pack, but I am a lot lighter and way fitter than I was before starting yoga.
Yoga is a very ancient practice, and it traces its origins to India, thousands of years back. Yoga was and is meant to help achieve a more positive outlook on life and a focused, permanent sense of serenity and peace. The word “yoga” itself means “union” and “union with the divine.” But in our age, we have stripped away the spiritual part and are focused the jaw-dropping positions assumed by some yogis.
While with practice and dedication one can achieve those jaw-dropping poses, yoga is a lot more than that. People of all body shapes and sizes do yoga and adapt it to their needs.
4 Reasons to Start Practicing Yoga:
1. Yoga relieves stress.
Improved focus means improved stress management. Try our tutorial for improving focus.
Yoga helps to relieve stress. And in our fast-paced, challenging world, this is something everyone needs help with. Many people tend to go gym or hit a punching bag to relieve stress, but such methods often tire you out physically or make you more aggressive (indeed, you cannot punch your way out of anger!). Yoga, on the other hand, employs a number of relaxation techniques that with regular practice help you to be calm and have a generally improved mood.
Yoga trains both the mind and body. The physical aspect is challenging and can only be achieved if you focus. And that focus helps train your mind. And once you improve your focus, you’re better equipped to handle stress.
If you are practicing yoga (properly), you will be away from your cell phone, meaning no emails and no calls for 30 to 60 minutes, which keeps you away from common stress triggers. Harvard University’s research has also shown that besides assisting in stress management, yoga is an excellent antidepressant.
2. Yoga improves sleep.
Yoga has a few sequences of poses and movements that are intended to be done right before sleep. But even besides these poses, studies show that practicing some light physical exercises before bed helps us doze off faster and sleep better. We’ve got a lovely tutorial for you that combines a series of restorative poses to help prepare you some deep zzz’s.
3. Yoga improves your posture, which improves your outlook–and your look!
Standing in tree pose is a great way to summon your inner goddess.
Yoga will give you a healthier posture, and a good posture makes you look bold, tall, smart, and more confident. Many yoga exercises revolve around seated positions and a straight back accompanied with breathing exercises. Every beginner starts off slouching, but stick at it, and eventually yoga will help you sculpt a posture that shall bring to mind the Greek goddesses.
4. Yoga is very easy to start.
Yoga can be practiced wherever you enjoy spending time.
All you need is a mat. And frankly, you do not even need the mat! You can practice yoga on the carpet, sand, or grass–or wherever you are comfortable. This is so unlike a gym where you need free weights and machines for training.
What about yoga classes? Well, there are so many options catering to different styles of yoga and a range of physical ability. Plus, you can even go online and register for a free class and practice yoga in the comfort of your room! (Here are a few digital resources for yoga to get you started. This list isn’t exhaustive by any means.) There are also several yoga books that can inspire your practice. It’s worth trying a few options to find what you enjoy most.
Start practicing yoga today!
There is no need to delay. If you suffer from any issues like back pain, then do take your doctor’s advice regarding which poses you should avoid. There’s still a good chance, however, that several yoga positions will still be available to you and may even help you through your discomfort. Yoga is for everyone–no matter what ails you or how old you are.
What inspires you to practice yoga?
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Related: 10 Inspirational Yoga Quotes
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Photos: Mary Hood Luttrell, Zoey Greco, Zyana Morris