The first time I heard about yoga, I gagged a little bit.
As an athlete, I spent a lot of time playing, training, and running.
Even more, as a guy, I could never see myself attending a yoga class.
I would see people come out of the athletic club I was a member of at the time, with small purple mats and a foam roller.
Not for me, I thought. I lived for gameday and morning weight training sessions with my buddies.
Yoga wasn’t something I was interested in.
I just didn’t see the point, how could you get a workout in by just stretching and breathing?
At the time, that’s all I saw it as – holding long stretches, and taking a breath.
Little did I know, yoga is now a staple of my morning routine, and has a number of health benefits that you ought to consider.
6 Ways Yoga Will Improve Your Health
1. Better Sleep
I’ve written extensively on this topic, sleep is a pillar to good health. It’s just as important, if not more, than eating well, being active, and becoming present.
Most exercise before bed ( such as heavy weights, intense HIIT sessions) can take away from sleep, yoga, on the other hand, helps tremendously. Pair that with some foam rolling and you’re set for a good night’s rest.
2. Social Environment
Another overlooked category of health. Humans evolved off of being around others.
Another idea that Eckhart Tolle talks about in his New York Time’s Bestseller, Practicing The Power Of Now is that group-work can be extremenly beneficial for those trying to grow their presence power (your ability to be in the present moment). So, working in groups and being active socially is something you should remember when trying to lower your stress and improve your health.
You can do yoga at home, on top of a mountain and on your own… But you can also attend yoga classes and meet some very down-to-earth people.
3. For The Physical Reasons
I’m not saying that you’re going to build the body of adonis with yoga…;) I’m saying you will help out your joints and ligaments. Keeping your body limber is something we should start doing as early as we can. Practices such as yoga, foam rolling and lots of walking will allow you to do this.
More so, yoga improves range of motion, flexibility, strengthens small stabilizer muscles (you know, the little guys around your ankles, shoulders, and wrist that keep them from ripping off when you’re killing it in the gym lifting heavy).
Lastly, it improves posture. In fact, the first time I came back from yoga – a few of the people I see in my classes asked me if I had grown an inch or two. I probably had, because that’s what happens at this age 😉
But from personal experience and of many others, yoga may be your best bet to improving posture.
4. Grows Your Presence Power
Exercise does that. More so, ayuverdic exercise such as Yoga and Tai Chi are very good ways to becoming more present. Focusing on long holds, activating the muscle being stretched, noticing the tension, is mindfulness at its finest.
Becoming present, hitting the pause button, turning your mind off – whatever you like to call it can easily be done with some breathing and stretching. Yoga is a great place to do that.
When you’re in a group-type environment, the energy around you is so focused and vibrant, you’re less likely to get taken over by your thoughts. You’ll be present, focused on what you’re doing.
I’ve written about this topic a few times.
5. It’s Activity
Activity vs. Exercise, a post that I plan on writing in the near future. Humans are meant to be active, lots of movement throughout the day.
Nowadays, we have set workouts… And that’s all. After a long day of sitting at the desk, in front of a screen with artificial led lights beaming at you, you’ll hit the gym for a set workout.
Yoga can be thought of as exercise, and I’m sure it is. It also falls under the category of activity. That is to say, it doesn’t increase your stress levels.
Exercise increases stress, it’s healthy stress and needs to be programmed into our day for proper circadian rhythym following, but too much of it is bad.
Activity on the other hand can be done without holding back. You can do a lot of activity without taxing your nervous system and your body.
Yoga is a form of activity, it increases flexibility, improves posture and gets you out of that “gym” mindset that we too often identify ourselves with.
On top of that, it will actually improve recovery. Plenty of research shows that active recovery from sources like Yoga and meditation improve recovery from intense workouts sessions (study), (study).
6. Is A Form Of Meditation
If you’re looking to improve your health and life, meditation should be a habit by now.
Yes, taking the time to sit down and focus on your breathing and become present should be someth
ing you do daily, especially before sleep. For a good way to start meditating, check out this guide on Mind Body Green.
Yoga allows you to focus on your breathing, actually breathing techniques such as pranayama, allow you to really dial in your focus on your breath. At the same time, it also increase blood flow throughout your body. Becoming aware of the subtle tingling in your finger tips (the bloodflow) is one of the easiest ways to start connecting within and therefore become present.
Killing two birds with one stone, yoga is a form of meditation and activity – two great habits you can do at the same time.
By nature, active recovery allows you to repair more efficiently. Thus, allowing to hti your workouts in the gym hard and heavy when the time comes.
Add To The List
- Improves respiratory and cardiovascular function. (study)
- Lowers Cortisol. (study)
- Reduces chronic pain. (study)
- Promotes recovery from and treatment of addiction (study)
- Improves cognition. (study)
- Postively benefits immunity. (study)
- Improves Body Mass Index (not a great indicator of health but thought I’d stick it in here). (study)
- Lowers chance of diabete, high blood pressure, and many other illnesses. (study)
Not too mention, its naturally stress reducing. All of the benefits listed above directly influence your stress levels and, of course, your health.
In its very nature, yoga is very good for overall health. It is a great form of activity, meditation, and social engagement.
For a long time, lifting weights and sports were the only forms of exercise I did and believed in. Nowadays, I start my days with a morning yoga session and some foam rolling.
Yoga will benefit your health in a myriad of ways and it will greatly ease your mind. The evidence and research is clear, its up to you to start practicing and putting it in to action.
P.S. Thank you so much for reading! I really appreciate you stopping by, if you’re interested in learning more about various ways to lower your stress and improve your health – subscribe to the newsletter and visist the YouTube channel where I upload videos similar to these articles regularly. Also, please share this with three friends who enjoy yoga! 🙂