Since I started to practice yoga three years ago, it has enhanced my life in many ways.
First things first, I'm in no way a yoga expert or have a world-class practice. In fact, I only practice every other day and still can't do impressive yoga things like handstands. However, does my lack of slick yoga moves hinder my love of the practice? Absolutely not!
When I started yoga, I was very sceptical. I went to my first class half expecting to be surrounded by hippy-dippy types, where I felt totally out of place, but that couldn't have been further from the truth. Quickly after flowing through some sun salutations, I was hooked.
If you are considering starting yoga, here's a list of the main benefits I've found since practising, which may inspire you to start your own journey.
Stress and Anxiety Relief
This is one of the primary way's yoga has enhanced my life. I suffer quite badly from anxiety, and I find that yoga really helps soothe the symptoms. Even if I just practice on my mat for a few minutes, I find relief from a racing mind and anxious thoughts.
Yoga uses deep breathing called Ujjayi breathing throughout, which helps me become more mindful and present on my mat, and I find I don't think about being anywhere else when I am there.
Better Flexibility and Posture
I love how you can actively see your progress when practising yoga. At my first class, I could barely reach my toes, and now I can get into certain advanced postures with ease. It's extremely rewarding when you work towards achieving a pose, and you finally nail it. Not to mention, increased flexibility is incredibly beneficial to your health as you get older.
It also encourages you to actively think about your posture and spine alignment throughout, which in turn makes you more aware of holding correct posture day-to-day.
I have worked out in the gym for years, but the strength you achieve from yoga is a different kettle of fish. Similar to increasing flexibility, you will also find your strength increasing continuously throughout your practice. Unlike weight training, where one muscle is often isolated, yoga increases muscle endurance as one pose is held for a longer length of time numerous times throughout a session.
In particular, I have found balancing postures like Eagle Pose and Warrior III Pose have really improved my balance and lower body strength.
I Can Do It Anywhere!
One of the main reasons I love yoga so much is that you can do it literally anywhere! Up until recently, I went to a weekly class, which I loved. However, I have recently moved and have taken up a daily at-home practice, which I'm absolutely loving (you can wear PJs!), and I will occasionally drop into an in-person class. Much to the dismay of my boyfriend, I've been known to start up a quick flow mid-hike or on a stroll on the beach. I also love doing the occasional morning flow while on holidays abroad. It's so accessible, and there are so many online resources like Yoga with Adrienne who offer free yoga classes.
However, if you are a total beginner, I would recommend attending an introductory course for a few sessions until you get the hang of it. This way, the teacher can ensure that you maintain the correct posture and re-align you.
I can honestly say that yoga has made me happier all round. The practice makes me appreciate my body and mind more and encourages me to take care of myself. It doesn't just focus on the physical appearance of our bodies; it focuses on how your body and mind can perform in the best way possible. I love knowing that I always have my mat to go to if I'm having a bad day and that I can escape the hustle and bustle of life for a few moments.