32 Benefits of Yoga & Why It Will Change Your Life

          When I sat down to write this article, I wanted to come up with 10 reasons why yoga is beneficial for you. However, 10 reasons came to mind so quickly that I decided to keep going and tripled my original goal! #whoopwhoop

Let’s begin with the first benefit of having a yoga practice:

1.Yoga is holistic – promoting wellness for your body, mind, and soul.

The word yoga means “to yoke”. Practicing yoga is bringing awareness to all three aspects of yourself: physical-self (body), mindful-self (mind), and spiritual-self (spirit).

The cool thing about practicing yoga is that you can tailor it to your needs and desires. For example, if you want to focus more on the strength building aspect, you can attend a power yoga class. Or, if you’re more in need of relaxation and calming the mind, then I highly suggest a restorative yoga class.

Benefits of Yoga for Your Body

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2. Makes you stronger.

The physical exercise of yoga builds your strength due to body weight bearing poses.

3. Improves your flexibility.

I’ve often heard, “Oh I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible.”  (-__-) This type of argument is like saying, “Oh I don’t lift weights because I’m not strong enough.” In the latter situation, you work with what you can lift and build strength from there. Gaining flexibility works in a similar manner. You stretch and breathe to where your body can go and over time you become more flexible. #idontwannahearanyexcusespeople

4. Aids in weight management.

Any and every body shape and size can practice yoga. Some people lose weight when they begin a regular yoga practice and others build strength. I am in the later group. I haven’t lost weight but I am much stronger and better able of carrying my body weight.

In addition, there are various poses that can assist in activating your thyroid gland, the liver, and kidneys. When you activate these organs through twists, compressions, and releases, you are gently reminding them to do their job. For example, the thyroid gland releases a hormone that is responsible for activating your metabolism. Certain yoga poses can gently remind your thyroid to do this.

Regardless of whether you want to lose weight or not, the asana (pose) practice of yoga helps your body to healthfully carry your weight and activate your organs. #yogaforeveryBODY

5. Improves your breathing.

In yoga class you are reminded to take slow, full, and deep breaths with an emphasis on relaxing as you exhale.

6. Improves lung capacity.

Sometimes various breathing techniques are taught in yoga class that require you to hold your breath and release it. These exercises can improve and expand your lung capacity.

7. Is good for your heart in helping with blood circulation.

As you breathe deeply and transition from pose to pose, your heart is pumping and you’re creating space within the body for your blood to circulate. These cardio benefits greatly depend on the style of yoga you’re practicing. But even if you choose to practice a restorative style of yoga, legs-up-the-wall-pose is wonderful for improving blood circulation in your legs with minimal effort. #apersonalfavorite   

8. Improves what happens in bed – sleep and the sexy love part 😉

As you learn to take slow deep breaths, your body relaxes, lets go of unnecessary tension, and

a. allows you to fall asleep and have better quality sleep.

b. allows you to have a better connection w/your partner because yoga teaches your body to relax (and not be so self-conscious).

9. Improves your balance.

Yoga not only improves your balance by standing on one leg or your arms, but it also teaches you how to achieve balance in your life!

10. Is detoxifying.

When you sweat, your body releases toxins. #yesss

11. Teaches you to listen to your body.

Yoga is not merely a workout where you do a certain number of moves, exercises, reps and call it a day. During your practice you’re constantly building awareness, you’re reminded to be in the present moment and check in to see how your body is doing. This teaches you to listen to your body’s signals in the moment and this translates to everyday life.

Your body is constantly giving you signals of how it’s doing. Tense shoulders and tight hips probably means you’re stressed. Overstuffed belly that induces a food coma is your body saying, “You fed me too much buddy. Now you’ve gotta stop whatever you were doing so I can fully concentrate on digesting all of this food.”

When you practice listening to your body in class, it becomes easier to listen to your body in everyday life.

12. Practicing yoga sculpts your muscles simply using your body weight. #getit

13. Builds body confidence.

You cannot be confident in something or someone you do not know. The physical practice of yoga teaches you to know your body and as you grow in body awareness, you grow in body confidence.

Benefits of Yoga for Your Mind

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14. Can reduce stress.

Various studies have concluded that yoga can reduces stress, you can check them out here and here.

15. Improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Because yoga can tame your stress response, it also improves any symptoms of depression and anxiety.

There are even particular yoga poses that can help with depression and others for anxiety. For depression you’d practice more heart-opening/back-bending poses such as cobra, camel, or a standing backbend. If you’re anxious then practicing grounding poses such as child’s pose and tree pose can be very beneficial.

16. Improves mental clarity and is calming to the mind.

Focusing on the your breath forces you to let go of negative self-talk. Instead of thinking “I can’t do this” you’ll notice the rise and fall of the belly as you take deep breaths, find it comforting, & think “it’s going to be okay, just breathe”.

17. Builds self-awareness.

This is the first step in improving one’s self-esteem and sense of identity. By building self-awareness you learn how the body-mind connection works. If you are mentally thinking, “nobody likes me” your physical self will probably be walking around with shoulders slumped and eyes looking down. In a yoga class, not only are you improving your posture, you are paying attention to your thoughts and letting go of the negativity.

Simply stated, your body carries your emotions and you learn how your emotions, thoughts, & feelings influence your body & vice versa.

18. Brings you into the here & now.

Yoga practice teaches you to focus on the present, rather than freaking out about your to-do list, or dwelling on things of the past and of the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” situations.

19. Gives you the power and control to test your limits and push yourself.

Yoga practice isn’t a race and there’s always room for improvement. This mindset gives you the freedom to push yourself when you are ready and find relaxation when you need.

Benefits of Yoga for Your Soul

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20. Teaches you to accept yourself.

Acceptance is being at peace even if it’s not how you planned or envisioned.

21. Cultivates an attitude of gratitude & fosters self-love.   

As you practice yoga, you come to the realization that your body is for you. All of your cells, organs, your brain, and everything is working very hard to keep you alive and as healthy as possible. By becoming grateful for the body you’ve been blessed with, your actions towards yourself begin to spring from love.

22. Teaches you patience.

Not every single pose will come naturally to you. Heck, stretching and moving may not “feel” natural but our bodies were created to move. Yoga may cause initial thoughts of, “This is hard”, “I can’t do this”, or “I will never be able to do that.” But as time goes on, you will learn to be patient with yourself.  

23. Gives you the opportunity to let go.

This goes hand in hand with patience. As you practice patience with yourself you learn to let go of self-judgement.

24. Helps you overcome fear.

You will face yoga poses that can be scary at first. But as you build your strength, gain flexibility, and understand your body, you will gain the confidence to face your fears.

25. Makes you hustle.

When I say “hustle” I’m referring to the ability to get back up and try again if you don’t succeed the first time. It’s gaining the courage to try new things, poses & shapes you didn’t know you were capable of. Every time you show up to yoga class you’re making the choice to overcome fear, doubt, and try something new. #hustle!  

26. Reminds you that life is a journey.

Your yoga practice is a journey and the possibilities are endless. Realizing that yoga practice is a journey parallels with the realization of life being a journey. There ups and down and that’s okay.

27. Learn to connect with your true self.

Remember the whole breathing thing I was talkin’ about earlier? Well, when you intentionally allow your breath to guide you through movement, not only are you connecting with your physical self, but you’re connecting with your mind and soul as well.  Thus experiencing the “yoking” or yoga of the three.

28. Teaches you to slow down and listen to your inner voice/intuition.

This is similar to building self-awareness for the mind but it goes a bit deeper by acknowledging your emotions, thoughts, and what your inner voice is telling you. For instance, when poses get difficult in class you’re intuition might be telling you to get a few breaths in child’s pose and then join in again. The opposite is true as well, maybe your inner voice says “just go for it” when trying something new. Yoga is the only physical form of movement I am aware of that encourages you to listen to your inner voice throughout the whole class.

Other Random (but Important) Benefits of Yoga

29. What you learn on the yoga mat translates into real life situations.

Let’s use the benefit we talked about in number 22 as an example. You first practice patience with yourself. As you develop patience with yourself, you’re capacity to be patient with others and situations in life will grow as well. Afterall, you can only give to others what you already have within you.

30. Yoga gives you the opportunity to connect with others.

Whether you attend a class or share your progress via social media, the yoga community is very warm and welcoming.

31. Find a mentor or teacher who guides you through your practice.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we all need someone to guide us along a new journey at times. This is what a yoga teacher can do for you. He or she will teach you the importance of breath work throughout your practice and they will give you cues specific to your body’s needs. Not only will your yoga practice accelerate at a much faster pace with a teacher, but he or she will also ensure that you are practicing the poses safely with correct alignment.

32. You can find a style of yoga to best suit your needs.

There are SO many styles of yoga y’all! Do not be turned off by one teacher or one style of yoga, because yoga is for everyBODY – you’ve just gotta find what works for you. Take a look into your local studio(s), look at their class descriptions, and find the one that best suits your needs. You are SO worth this new experience.

Yoga will change your life in the best way possible. After reading these benefits, what is the most important reason for you to begin or continue a yoga practice? Did you read the article and think I missed something? Let me know in the comments below! 

Remember, love is an action and it starts with you.

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