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Some people think that Yoga is all about standing in strange and uncomfortable positions while chanting the “Om” mantra and surrounded by incense, but that’s not really the point of it. Yoga is an enormous complex of physical, mental and spiritual activities and practices that can’t be narrowed down to just the aforementioned stereotypical associations, even though they actually make some sense.
People that are not quite familiar with the subject tend to underestimate the impact that yoga can have on both your body and spirit. After all, even the world itself sounds a bit strange, doesn’t it? To sort that out, let’s take a look at some great and unexpected reasons to start practicing yoga right now, for a better physical and mental fitness!
Image Credit: Pixabay
- Yoga increases your strength and endurance better than the gym, in a certain sense. Just imagine this: during most of your day (week, month, year, life…) you’re repeating over and over the same movements and positions, and that leaves a great portion of your muscles in a dormant state. Your body can do SO much more than that. Every single time you put yourself in a position that feels physically uncomfortable, you’re actually waking up the muscles that have been dormant for some time, while in the gym you mostly do the same movements as usual, but with some additional weight. Meaning that a good portion of your muscles are still asleep for good. When practicing yoga, you’re increasing your physical potential. Do this regularly and you’ll soon see how much your strength and endurance can rise!
- Yoga reduces the risk of diseases of your musculoskeletal systemassociated with aging and sedentary lifestyle. By increasing the level of physical activity, it’s possible to slow down natural degenerative processes in your bones, muscles and joints. Basically, this means that you’ll stay younger for a much longer period of time.
- Yoga increases blood supply to your brain, making it work faster and more effectively in general. Ever felt that stiffness in your neck and shoulders which usually leads to a headache in a short time after that? This is explained by a decrease in the blood supply to the brain due to clamping of muscles in the neck region. Simply speaking, these muscles “squeeze” your arteries, lowering the blood flow through them, which results in brain hypoxia (low oxygenation), headaches and a diminished mental capacity. Yoga helps your muscles to relax, thus solving the issue.
- Yoga increases muscle definition, makes your body slimmer and more graceful. While not enough alone to help you build significant muscle mass, this system of physical exercises is sure to help you get the most out of your natural body resources.
- Yoga helps you to lose weight. Although being a moderate-intensity kind of physical activity (meaning you won’t cut off a significant amount of fat by going with it alone), yoga can help you to significantly increase the effectiveness of some other weight-loss programs, especially those that don’t need much physical performance – like the hCG diet, for example. Use yoga as an additional approach in your weight-loss course to achieve better results overtime.
- Yoga relieves your stress and improves inner balance. Though not being exactly the same as meditation, proper practice of yoga demands an almost absolute concentration on your posture and movements, meaning that you’ll leave aside everything unrelated, forget your problems for a while and lose yourself in that majestic moment of physical excellence.
- Yoga improves your sleep. That’s right, there are many researches like this one, for example, that have revealed yoga’s great potential to improve sleep efficiency, total sleep time and sleep onset latency, among other sleep-related factors.
- Yoga increases your flexibility. Reach your body’s full potential, expand your boundaries overtime and take some astonishing photos for your Instagram while you’re at it! With some experience in yoga, you’ll soon bend like a willow in any desired direction.
- Yoga gives you extra air. Literally. The lower segments of your lungs are not used actively because they “open up” mostly during deep slow breathing. Which is what yoga demands from you in many cases. Moreover, in certain positions your chest and arms will be fixated in a way that will improve the movement of your rib cage, eventually helping to lead air into the lower segments of your lungs.
- Yoga makes you more energetic. Through disciplined physical activeness, mental concentration and effective breathing techniques, yoga mobilizes your inner resources and helps you to use them intensively, boosting your metabolism and giving you extra energy.
As you see, there are quite a lot of reasons to start practicing yoga, but in fact we’ve barely touched the subject. Besides the benefits on your body and mind, there’s also quite an interesting background of spiritual and religious teaching behind the many kinds of yoga. Some of them are more exoteric and mysterious than the others, so it’s up to you to chose how deep you want to explore the matter.
But even if you decide to just go with the physical part of yoga and leave aside the spiritual aspects, you’ll see very soon how great its effects on your body and mind can be. After a couple of lessons already, in fact. And this double-sided approach is what ensures the long-term results, because we all know that body and spirit can’t be ultimately separated, so the health of one will always affect the well-being of the other.
And one of the greatest parts: yoga can be practiced anywhere, with no additional equipment. Well, of course, for a comfortable practice of some poses having a special matt would be preferable, but that’s not a “must”. It’s just your body, your mind and the vast world around you. Practice in your home or in the garden, on the roof of your house or in the parking lot before driving to work, do some yoga during your launch break or before going to sleep – everything is possible.
Just 20 minutes of yoga per day can make you feel like a whole new person.
The trick is to make the first step – and go with the flow.