My experience with Yoga goes back almost ten years. I still remember getting done with my first class and feeling almost loopy (in a very calm, happy sort of way). It was pretty cool and I was hooked.
I appreciate it now just as much as I did then and the benefits for me are just as profound: maintained flexibility, calm mental state, and it’s a great way to “cool off” my system after a heavy lifting session. Talk about a healthy drug…
Yep, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that Yoga is good for us. So let’s break it down…
But those are just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some of the other main reasons you need to try Yoga. (with a few more facts to back ‘em up)
1. Pain relief
Yoga can help your body deal with pain in the short term by calming the parts of the brain that process it. Yoga, like many other forms of exercise, releases endorphins. It is also similar to mediation in that it can train the body to enter a relaxed state more quickly, which attenuates our natural stress response and reduces pain.
I would also argue that Yoga can help the body recover from minor musculoskeletal injuries and in doing so directly decrease the amount of pain we experience by stopping the signals from being sent to our brain in the first place.
2. Improved Breathing
Yoga practice trains you to use what is called diaphragmatic breathing. This is a healthy, natural method of breathing that relies on the full expansion of the lungs and provides more oxygen with each breath. It has also been shown to aid in relaxation and, in people who practice Yoga, it becomes a habit.
3. Increased Strength
Lifting weights and doing other types of resistance training are great, but Yoga strengthens the body in a very unique way by challenging you to maintain your balance and core stability while working the muscles in an isometric fashion.
It also improves proprioception (your body’s awareness of where it is in space) and coordination, since movements are typically more controlled and fluid than in other more dynamic sports. This is one of the reasons Yoga is great cross training for athletes like bodybuilders or football players who typically only train under heavy loads or with quick, forceful movements.
4. Improved Weight Loss and Body Composition
Like any other type of activity, Yoga will burn some calories. But what sets it apart from more typical forms of exercise is it’s positive effect on cortisol levels. Cortisol, which is a stress hormone, is increased in individuals who are overweight. Yoga helps to calm the entire body, effectively reducing out of control cortisol.
5. Cardiovascular Conditioning
Some of the more intense forms of Yoga can be pretty aerobic in nature, but even the most relaxing versions are beneficial from a cardiovascular standpoint.
This is because gentle types of Yoga lower the resting heart rate, and over time this can have a positive – albeit indirect – impact on cardiovascular function. Also, for people who are deconditioned aerobically, Yoga can be a perfect low-impact starting point from which to progress from. Give yoga a try if you thinking of taking anabolic steroids for endurance!
6. Improved Circulation
Lowered blood pressure and pulse rates help improve circulation and vice versa. This is especially true for people who weren’t exercising prior to taking up Yoga, but improvements in circulation, blood pressure, pulse rates, and overall conditioning are seen in almost everyone who starts to practice regularly.
7. Improved Self-Awareness, Sense of Self, and Oneness
People talk about the spiritual benefits of Yoga a lot (as I did in the beginning of this article) and it’s true: Yoga helps tremendously with this. Because it relies on controlling your body and externalizing all other distractions, you are left able to focus on these “internal” states and develop a better conscious awareness of your self, framed independently of the world around you.
8. Improved Tissue Quality, Mobility, and Athleticism
As I mentioned in #3, Yoga’s physical effects are far reaching. Being an athlete myself, I have experienced first hand what research has shown to be true: Yoga improves tissue quality, mobility, and overall athleticism. This basically means your body feels better (muscles, joints, etc.), moves better, and functions better on and off the court/field.
9. Inner Peace
Yoga can help you attain inner peace. As I mentioned in #7, Yoga helps you connect better with yourself, which in turn improves your connectedness with the rest of the world. Getting along with yourself and everyone else sounds pretty peaceful to me.
Need even more reasons?
Here are the basic reasons you should be doing Yoga if you’re a girl:
- It will help you relax!
- It will decompress the spine and improve flexibility.
- You’ll bond with other similar people.
- You’ll heighten your spirituality
- You’ll look good in yoga pants.
And here are the basic reasons you should be doing Yoga if you’re a guy:
1. Same as above
2. Same as above
3. Same as above
4. Same as above
5. You’ll be hanging out with hot girls in Yoga pants.
If you haven’t tried yoga, you should give it a shot. It’s so damn “in” that there must be something special about it, right? In this case, it’s not just hype. It’s been trendy for a few years and the science is here to back it up: if you’re a human, it’s probably good for you.
It might even be good for your dog. (more research is needed!)
If you’re already a Yoga enthusiast, you probably know this. That might be part of the reason you do it. Or, you might just be addicted to it. That’s OK too because as far as addictions go, you could do worse.
oga has gotten so trendy that I think it’s (very real) benefits may have gotten lost in the hype a little bit. It’s good to remember that people have been doing this for while, and it’s really damn good for us.
The research is there. Yoga is a pretty safe bet. Seems to me like you could benefit from giving it a shot if you haven’t already.