So you’ve heard about yoga and still wondering what’s in it for you? To really figure out what yoga will do for you, you need to get yourself on a yoga mat. This article gives you a little inspiration of what to expect.
Text: Julia Graesser
Consistency is key. You cannot eat three cakes a day and expect that a salad a week will fix your unhealthy eating habits. You will need to put some work in, but most students stay with yoga for life because what they get out of it is hard to find somewhere else.
“Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory.” - Pattabhi Jois, Indian yoga guru and Sanskrit scholar
There are many different forms of yoga. For example, if you practice a lot of yin yoga, your flexibility will improve, significantly reducing stress levels. However, your strength might stay the same, as Yin yoga is a practice where we want to keep the muscles relaxed and not stress them for growth.
So let us look into some examples of how a yoga practice can improve your life. It is really just a glimpse into a new world full of opportunities for a happier and healthier life, and I hope it motivates you to explore it.
A more youthful look
Have you heard about face yoga yet? It is a great way to make your face and neck glow. It will help you reduce wrinkles and saggy eyes as well as improve your facial contours. It also releases jaw tension, leading to fewer headaches and better sleep due to fewer teeth grinding at night. In face yoga, we also train the eye muscles to keep them healthy and strong.
Practising relaxation techniques like yoga Nidra, calming breaths, or meditation before bedtime can help your body get into the parasympathetic nervous system (the rest and digest system), which will likely improve your sleep quality. In addition, letting go of the day will calm your mind and falling asleep will be easier.
Meditation is a great way to improve focus, but also your asana (physical posture). A yoga class will help you with that. However, to truly be in a yoga pose, your body, breath, and mind require a lot of focus and awareness.
Increased performance in sports
Yoga is a fantastic addition to all sports. It trains the willpower, which will carry you over the finish line of your half marathon. It will improve your breathing and hence the oxygen supply in your muscles. It strengthens muscles in your whole body, even small ones you might miss in your regular workout.
Physical yoga practises like Hatha or Vinyasa yoga will work your whole body. Most new students are surprised by how challenging and demanding some yoga poses can be. However, a well-balanced practice will address almost every muscle in your body. Even the ones you did not know existed.
Many of my students report that yoga is their lifeline in stressful times. The breathing we practice calms the mind and body. It can help you handle panic and anxiety attacks better.
Our body needs to have the parasympathetic nervous system activated for optimal digestion and nutrient absorption. Again, the many relaxation techniques in yoga can get you there. Furthermore, there are many poses like twists that can help to improve your digestion.
Making better food choices
Better body awareness can help you to listen to your body: what it truly desires. Yoga can help you understand your underlying trauma and worries, which may cause emotional eating. It really is a self-care practice that honours body and mind and understands that both need to be balanced and healthy.
Improved relationships with friends and family
A yoga practice will help you to be more present and mindful in your daily life. It will show you what truly matters in life.
The most common short term benefit after practice is being relaxed and energised at the same time. I like to call it the ‘after yoga bliss’, which cannot be put into words, but needs to be experienced. So, are you ready to get on the mat?