(5) Benefits of Yoga
By Hana Engel
One could write a book on the benefits of Yoga, however, let’s try to keep this as short and sweet as possible. As tough as it is to break down the benefits of a regular practice, I’m going to do so by expressing the top 5 benefits that can be experienced from a regular Yoga regimen.
Whether you start off by incorporating 2-3 classes a week or going everyday, you will notice a difference in your overall being. Yoga has many different styles such as Hatha, Ashtanga, Hot Yoga or power. It is up to you to challenge yourself, take advantage of the practice and reap the benefits. The benefits listed below are only the tip of the Yoga iceberg if you will and individuals may not see the same benefits in the same order. Just as each individual is unique so is each Yoga practice and Yoga experience.
1.Weight Loss: From personal experience it is possible to lose a significant amount of weight through the addition of regular yoga practice. Keep in mind much of this initial loss is water weight, however practitioners often feel lighter and ‘cleansed’ post practice. Vinyasa yoga practice in a hot room only emphasizes the need for increase water intake (hydration) before, during and after your classes. This is an added bonus as it is well known that increased water intake aids in weight management and fat loss.
2. “Leaning Out”: Working so hard in the gym could be a complete waste of your time if you don’t take care of yourself out of the gym. Like time spent in the kitchen organizing your clean diet- time on the mat could be just as important to accomplishing your fitness goals. You will notice your muscles start to lengthen after beginning a regular practice. Your muscle recovery process will occur properly, and they will thank you by looking awesome! Regardless of the style, Yoga works and assists the muscular system way more than most people realize. You’ll be feeling, and looking stronger than ever!
3. Flexibility: This is one of the huge generalizations about yoga. You do not have to wrap your legs around your head to be “good”!!! Of course, with more experience you become more advanced and eventually your flexibility will improve. Aside from increased flexibility in your everyday movements, you will also feel accomplished when you begin to include more complex poses on your mat. Your body begins to loosen in areas you didn’t even know were tight!
4. Breathing: The most important technique for staying focused, and in tune with your mind and body (especially while practicing in a hot room) is breathing. Breathing is not the easiest part of the practice. It does take time to learn and adjust to the different breathing techniques, as there are a few! The Uyaji breath, which is a common technique used amongst yogis, is a personal favorite. I find myself using this louder breathing technique in situations that freak me out, or require calm nerves. Breathing is so important and will maximize your ability to do anything. Whether it is dealing with a stressful or anxious situation, or lifting heavier in the gym, breathing right is key and often underappreciated.
5. Happiness: Last but certainly not least. A happier life can be achieved by connecting the mind and body; yoga is much more than the exercise induced dopamine effect, it is a lifestyle change to improve your overall health and happiness. Once you become comfortable going through the flows, and stepping into the studio, Yoga will become something very enjoyable. Applying these fluid techniques to everyday life offers a great opportunity to develop a calmer and happier outlook on life.
Yoga is way more than a ‘sitting with your legs crossed, eyes shut, hands to your heart, “Om” chanting,’ experience. Why not try something that could be so beneficial to your overall well-being? Especially for those working long days in the office, or in class- taking an hour out of your day could be all you need to get that extra liveliness and brightness to your body.