You’ve probably been to a yoga class or two, or at least checked out a yoga video online. Maybe you have a friend who loves to talk about their weekly yoga class. However you’ve become familiar with the practice, you might not know about all the benefits of yoga. Beyond the cute yoga pants, fancy poses, and trendy photos online, yoga is a far more expansive wellness practice than you might imagine.
Yoga originated in ancient India over 2,500 years ago. This kind of long history and heritage makes it a tried and true practice for many people over a long period of time. Yoga isn’t just the physical flexibility moves you see in western yoga classes, either. It’s part of a spirituality system that’s evolved over many, many centuries.
Yoga can be very physical, but it can also be very meditative. It can also incorporate actions taken during the regular day, as a mindfulness or wellness practice. It’s a sister practice to Ayurveda, another ancient healing practice that originated in India.
How to Get Started with Yoga
Yoga can seem intimidating if you haven’t yet participated in a class and don’t understand what it’s all about. There are so many different styles of yoga, too. How do you pick?
The best part is that there’s a style for everyone, regardless of your age, gender, body type, ability, or background. If you don’t like the first type you try, go to another class and give another style a shot. You’ll find your fit eventually.
It’s a great idea to start with a basic Hatha yoga class. You’ll find a slower paced class that adjusts for different levels and abilities. Some teachers even bring in chairs for those who can’t get up and down on the floor. Don’t be afraid to ask for accommodation in a class that’s designed for beginners and all abilities.
If you’re really worried about being able to do the moves, try out a restorative or gentle yoga class geared toward those with injuries or who need support. And if you’re ultra-athletic, you might enjoy trying an Ashtanga or vinyasa class that will test your strength.
Benefits of Yoga
Once you get going with a regular yoga practice, you’ll start to see all kinds of benefits showing up in your life. Lots of research studies have been undertaken to show how yoga can truly benefit different aspects of health and wellness.
Here are a few benefits of yoga you will look forward to in your regular practice.
1. Greater flexibility.
This is the most obvious benefit that most people are aware of. It’s true that when you get started, you might not be able to do the full moves due to lack of flexibility. But as time moves on, your hamstrings will begin to stretch and other muscle groups will begin to allow you to go deeper into the moves. Flexibility is good for preventing injury and giving you better control over your body. You’ll feel great!
2. Less anxiety and depression.
The mindfulness aspect of yoga can help calm an anxious mind. It can also bring a feeling of greater peace, which can decrease depression. This benefit will carry you throughout your day, bringing a great sense of wellness into your everyday life. You’ll also learn how to practice mindfulness, which you can do at any time.
3. Increases body awareness.
When we move unconsciously, we tend to be more likely to get injured. Yoga teaches us proper posture and conscious movement. Over time, you’ll become more graceful and aware of each move you make. That might make those of us who have a tendency toward being clumsy to feel a lot calmer when moving through space.
4. Releases tension.
Yoga teaches you to calmly lean into specific poses and to breathe while holding the pose. This encourages your muscles to relax and release, which can seriously reduce tension. Going through these moves can help re-teach your muscles how to do their work with less stress. Yoga can also strengthen muscles so they are less prone to unnecessary tension.
5. Helps with sleep.
The calming aspect of yoga, the physical nature of the poses, and mindfulness practice can help you when it comes time to go to bed. This is especially useful if you practice a calming, meditative style of yoga right before bed. If you’re struggling with insomnia or just plain falling asleep, you might want to try a little yoga before sleep.
6. Improves balance.
Many yoga poses depend on you maintaining your balance while holding the pose. This is a great way to strengthen your body and gain greater control of your muscles and coordination. Since falling can cause serious injuries (especially as we age), developing better balance is an important practice to add to your wellness plan.
7. Increases blood and lymph flow.
The various poses in yoga have you twisting, turning, and even going against gravity. This is great to massage the circular and lymph systems, pushing blood and lymph fluid around. From Downward Dog to Headstands, you’ll find a pose that can help create better circulation in your body and warm up those hands and feet.
8. Improves posture.
Each pose that you do in yoga requires proper posture for it to work. That means that you have to consciously think about the way you’re holding your body for almost an hour or more. Over time, you’ll find your posture-related muscles have strengthened and you’re holding your body in better form.
9. Improves strength.
One important way that yoga can help is by increasing your overall strength. Since you’re moving and using your body weight, this kind of strength is a functional type. It’s the kind of strength that will serve you well outside of the yoga studio. You’ll get a more peaceful mind and a great workout!
Get Started with Yoga Today
There are so many benefits that yoga can bring to your life. You don’t need to jump into a difficult yoga class or feel intimidated by yoginis who have been doing yoga for a long time. Find a friendly yoga studio that is more interested in being inclusive to all body types, ages, genders, and abilities. They’ll welcome you with open arms and help you find the class that’s perfect for your interests and abilities. Give yoga a chance and it can help create beautiful change in your wellness practice.
If you’re ready to become a Holistic Health and Wellness Coach, you’ll enjoy the IAWP’s unique program that includes powerful systems and support for your continued success. Reach out to an admissions advisor today to find out how to get started.