Exercise is my medicine and stress is my enemy. Stress is inevitable in our day-to-day lives and it is all based on how we perceive it and treat it. My friends and family will tell you that I stress about absolutely everything and sometimes it is hard for me to let certian thing go. As I am sure many of you know, stress can cause lack of sleep, lethargy, depressive episodes, and sometimes lack of appetite. I talk a lot more about how I deal with my stressors in this article here. Today I will be sharing with you 7 amazing yoga benefits and how yoga improves my life.
From completing my university career university to trying to discover my career path, you can probably bet that stress has played a huge role in my life! How can you blame me? I put so many things on my plate and create so many different goals for myself. Sometimes all I want to do is curl in a ball and do nothing. Unfortunately, my determination and perseverance to succeed and accomplish my goals get’s the best of me. This results in a lot of sleepless nights which isn’t good for your health.
As you can probably tell by the title of this post, I practice yoga quite often. I am a firm believer that exercise is the best medicine and it can cure a lot of health issues. This may be my biased opinion due to the fact that I am a certified Athletic Therapist as well as I have a degree in Kinesiology and Health science. You can’t argue the fact that what I’m preaching has some truth and scientific facts behind it.
I have participated in many different yoga classes and have actually studied the art of yoga and meditation to a certain degree. While I am no expert on the matter I can shed some light and share the benefits I found yoga has had on me and in my day-to-day life. You’re probably wondering why and how I started practicing yoga, and the answer is simple. I just did it. Like I said in the beginning, I tend to carry a lot of stress on my shoulders and I knew it was not healthy for me or my body. I also was experiencing digestive issues for a long time. After extensive research and trial and error, I found yoga to help it a lot! Let’s dive deep into the amazing benefits yoga has on our bodies!
1.Yoga Helps Me Focus
During any type of yoga class, the instructor will always guide you to focus on the present. Focus on being there in the moment, watching your breath as you breathe in and out. The simple task of just being present and not letting anything distract you has helped me in so many ways. I constantly find myself on a daily basis focusing on the future or reflecting on the past, but rarely do I find myself enjoying and appreciating the moment. This behaviour translates into my career and personal life as well. For example, every time I am working on a blog post or even just sitting down and having a conversation with someone, my mind is constantly racing.
You will often find me writing things down to help set reminders of things I need to do later.. I constantly ask myself ‘ why can I never be in the moment and stop worrying about the past or future‘. By taking a second to close your eyes and focus on your breathing helped me alot. It has allowed me to be present at the moment has really helped me remain focused and less distracted. It has also helped physiologically by reducing my heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension
2. Yoga Relaxes Me
This is an odd one for some people. They just can’t wrap their head around the fact that throwing your legs over your head or twisting your body in, what may seem like, distorted positions can be comfortable. I mean, I can see their point, but it’s like they say “you can’t judge a book by its cover”. I know what you’re thinking with this one, and yes it is easier said than done.
Throughout my years of practicing yoga, I can attest to the fact that it does relax me. Being able to focus on your breathing really helps to slow your heart rate down and relax your muscle tension. Sometimes when I am restless at night and can’t sleep I sit in a child pose position on my bed and just focus on my breathing. The simple practice of slowly inhaling and exhaling has done wonders on my anxiety! If you don’t believe me, try it!
3. Practicing Yoga Helps Me Sleep
How many of us at times find it difficult to fall asleep at night? If you didn’t raise your hand then consider yourself lucky. The perpetrating cause that manages to keep me up at night are my thoughts. This is a common thing for many insomniacs to experience. Now I wouldn’t characterize my self as an insomniac because more often than not I do sleep well, it’s more so for the occasional nights where I find myself lying awake.
By practicing yoga before bed when you have anxiety or associated feelings your body goes back into something called ‘homeostasis’. For those of you who don’t know what homeostasis means, it’s basically a fancy word for maintaining a stable balance. Yoga helps to activate different nervous systems within your body. The nerves that are triggered put your body in a deep state of relaxation. This is what allows you to have a restful sleep.
4. It’s Makes Me Happy 😊
Feeling sad? Down about yourself? Well grab a yoga mat and get to it yogi!! No, but seriously, yoga has been a God sent practice for me. We all have those days where we just don’t feel like getting out of bed and being a real person, or we have a bad day when everything goes wrong. Trust me, I’ve been there and I’ve had those days. The best way for me to cope with it is by exercising or doing yoga. Like I said before, yoga relaxes me and allows me to focus and be present at that moment. Allowing yourself to just reflect on being present and take in the moment can really help turn your day around.
Yoga and any other exercise trigger a chemical in your body called serotonin. Serotonin, another fancy word, is what makes you happy! Have you ever had the feeling when you’re at a concert with your friends and your favourite song comes on and your all singing along and you just feel a wave of happiness? Well, that’s serotonin doing its job, and that’s exactly what is triggered when you do yoga! That’s why I am always smiling in all my pictures here.😊
5. Having Improved Flexibility
One of the most obvious benefits of yoga is that it improves out flexibility. Increasing your flexibility is so important for joint and muscle health. If you are a beginner and just starting off with yoga, don’t worry about being the stiffest person in the class. Chances are you might be but I promise with every class you will become more flexible and it will get easier. After years of doing yoga, I still find myself getting better as time goes on.
The greatest benefit I find yoga provides with increased flexibility is a decrease in aches and pains. By not allowing your muscles and joints to be flexible you can tighten your hip joints and tighten up the muscles in your back. These are the two muscle groups that affect me the most. I work a desk job Monday to Friday, so it’s no coincidence that my back and hip muscles tighten up a lot. Not to mention the poor posture I have adopted over time. Being able to do yoga at night before bed allows me to loosen up my joints so when I do need to sit at my desk for 8 hours at a time, my muscles won’t tighten up as much.
6. Prevents Digestive Issues
Digestive and intestinal problems have become more and more popular these days. I know for myself I suffer from these issues on a day-to-day basis and while I am not much of a pill person, I try to find different alternatives to help treat my issues. Conditions like ulcers, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), or constipation are usually all caused by stress. Oh stress, you really get the best of us ehh? Anywho, with all the twisting and stretching in different directions, yoga can help relieve symptoms such as constipation by loosening up your organs and get things moving through your system.
7. Yoga Increases Stamina
I love running and I find it very soothing to go for long runs, especially in the summertime. In order for me to have a successful run, I need stamina. Now, when the word stamina comes to mind what do you think of? If you said running, jogging, or any sort of prolonged exercise, your correct, but practicing yoga also helps with building up your stamina. Have I got you confused? Here let me explain. In our body, we have two main energy systems used for exercise. First, we have our anaerobic system; this is the system that comes into play when we are jumping, sprinting, or in this case even yoga. Any short bouts of activity.
Secondly, we have our aerobic system. This is the system that kicks in when we are doing prolonged exercises such as marathon running or triathlon events. Now in order for both of these systems to work, they need each other’s help. The greater your aerobic and anaerobic systems are the better able you are to sustain exercise for a prolonged period of time. Yoga can help improve your endurance because it can increase stamina on several different levels; physical, physiological, and mental depending on your specific needs.
One of the biggest keys to endurance is oxygen intake and we need oxygen to be delivered to our muscles in order for them to work during exercise. Therefore, the more we practice yoga, your muscles will become stronger and flexible and be able to deliver more oxygen to the body. Think about it, if your rib cage, diaphragm, or spine is stiff, your capacity to breathing and out will be reduced… and that ain’t good!
If you are not practicing yoga or have been contemplating it for a while I really hope this post has persuaded you otherwise. Health and fitness is such a huge part of my life and I love sharing my expert advice with you all! If you are a beginner and don’t know where to start the best way to do so it by grabbing a yoga mat and turn on your computer and follow a youtube video. I have been following Yoga with Adriene for so long now! She has so many great yoga routines for beginners to follow along! I still watch them today and I love them!
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