I honestly believe my life could be divided into two parts: before and after I started practicing yoga. Before, I went through life feeling anxious 24/7. Everything was stressful for me: work, family, relationships, traffic, bills… My muscles were tense and I wasn’t sleeping well. As a result, I turned to bad habits, such as excessive drinking, to get relief and ‘rest’. Little did I know it was only making things worse.
And then I discovered yoga and meditation and my life took a 180-degree turn. I was resistant at first, I didn’t think practicing yoga could really make a difference. But I was wrong, and now every time someone tells me they’re having health issues or an emotional problem, I recommend yoga as the best solution.
Here are 6 benefits I got when I started practicing yoga and I hope you can get them too.
1. No More Stress!
Life is stressful, we all know it and we’ve all experienced stress over work, school, family, love and many other areas of life. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time to deal with everything.
Even though stress is a natural response to challenging situations and sometimes it may even be productive -it can give you the drive and motivation you need to do something-, experiencing it at very high levels, like I was, can be very harmful to your physical and mental health.
Yoga exercises are based on conscious breathing, and mindful meditation techniques implemented in yoga will help you clear your mind from everything that’s perturbing it; in my experience, meditation helped me the most when I was struggling to quit alcohol, as it helped me understand my situation in a more objective, calmer way and make better decisions for myself.
2. Weight Loss
Practicing yoga regularly helps you burn calories. There are certain yoga exercises and routines that are more aerobically demanding and which you can burn more calories with, such as Surya Namaskar and Pranayama Kapalbhati.
In addition, practicing yoga tends to make you more sensible and conscious about the kind of food that’s best for your body and when you should eat it, which also helps you regulate your weight.
3. Flexibility And Good Posture
Yoga exercises increase flexibility and joint and muscle agility, in addition to decreasing atrophy. It also stretches, strengthens and tone up your muscles. I can’t say my muscles are like those of a bodybuilder, but after a couple of years of regularly practicing yoga, they are definitely toned, I’ve gained arm and shoulder strength, and my cellulite has reduced exponentially, which consequentially has improved my confidence and self-esteem.
In addition to this, with regular yoga practice, you adopt an effortless upright posture, which helps to avoid the deterioration of vertebral discs.
4. Better Sleep
While doctors recommend 7 to 8 hours of sleep in order so your body can fully recharge, millions of people don’t get near that. According to a national survey, over 55% of people who do yoga confirm that it helps them get better sleep.
As mentioned above, yoga exercises are based on conscious breathing, which helps you clear your mind and relaxes your nervous system, making it easier for you to fall asleep. There are some simple yoga poses that can help you fall asleep easier, and be well rested.
Also, here’s a quick tip that really helped me on those nights when I couldn’t fall asleep: try to concentrate on your breath for 5 minutes, focus just on inhaling and exhaling, and clear your mind from everything else. This is a simple meditation technique that can help you fall asleep quicker and get a deeper sleep through the night.
5. More Energy
Since yoga helps you get quality rest, you may feel more energetic during the day and you probably won’t find yourself falling asleep in the middle of something important because you didn’t rest enough during the night.
In addition to this, some yoga poses can help adjust the cortisol hormone, which, when it’s not secreted in the right amount, can drain your body of energy.
6. Better Relationships
It comes as a result of all the benefits listed above, and I feel it’s very important to mention it as this is one of the things I’m more grateful for. I was abusing alcohol, constantly on edge, angry, stressed, and of course, my relationships suffered some damage.
However, once yoga led me through the process of inner peace, I became a more serene, relaxed, understanding and compassionate person, and in return, my relationships with my friends, family, and colleagues improved drastically. When my mind became clear of everything that was perturbing it, I stopped snapping at everything and worrying about the little things.
These 6 benefits are already enough to change your life, but there are much more! Through yoga, you learn to control your mind while your body becomes stronger, agiler and more functional. It only takes a few minutes every day to practice yoga and mindful meditation, but the physical and spiritual results will last forever.
Other benefits you have experienced through yoga? If you have any suggestions for me, please leave a comment below.