This piece is intended to be a definitive resource on the great benefits that yoga brings you, and why YOU should try yoga (if you don’t practice it already 🙂 ). To put together this resource I reached out to many different yoga teachers and practitioners, and compiled all the responses worth hearing below. I also put the following query out on the journalism sites I belong to:
What are the benefits of yoga and how has yoga enriched your life? Looking to hear from yoga teachers as well as people who enjoy doing yoga. Personal stories welcome. Your submission will be published in an article intended to encourage new people to try yoga for the first time.
In response to that I got dozens of great replies from people from all kinds of walks of life, and have published the best of them. There are loads of great reasons for why you should try yoga in the submissions below, and the main yoga benefits people talk about (summarized) are these:
- Stress relief, including lowering anxiety and depression
- Self-awareness (by slowing down, you become more aware of what’s happening around you)
- Better flexibility and posture
- Make new friends and build your community if you’re doing yoga in groups
- Pain relief
- Can help against arthritis
- Gives you time to look inward and think deeply
- Helps breathing
But that’s just a summary. I strongly recommend having a browse through the comments people submitted below, and giving them some thought. There’s probably at least 1 person with a similar background to yourself who you can resonate with, and whose praise for yoga is likely to be very much applicable to you.
Yoga has definitely helped me with stress, anxiety, and depression. I have observed that by focusing on deep breathing and stretching my body, I can relieve the symptoms of depression, such as sleep troubles, pain, and a loss of energy. Plus, it doesn't need a fully-equipped gym to do yoga. You only need a quiet corner in your house to practice yoga. That's why I always start my day with a few yoga asanas before heading to work.
--William Taylor, VelvetJobs
I discovered yoga relatively late. Being a male, yoga isn't something us blokes openly talk about, especially for those of us in white collar finance. I always was aware that there was something called yoga but to be honest, the first session blew my mind.
A client of mine gave me a gift voucher to use at her favourite yoga studio. She didn't tell me much and when I rocked up, I was surprised/shocked to discover it was a heated yoga session. The moment I stepped into the room, I was hit with a wave of heat and the next 45-minutes was brutal!
What I discovered was that yoga was a thorough workout for my body. Even more surprising was the workout it had on my mind. And this is why I have been a heated yoga fanboy since that first experience.
I love the way I can clear my mind for 45-minutes a day. It removes my anxiety, my fears, my stresses and replaces it with determination to do my best and being present with my breathing.
I think the biggest barrier to yoga is the fear of being judged. For example, being judged by others (usually total strangers) on how you look, being judged on the complete failure you are at doing yoga poses. But there's the thing I realized from yoga - nobody is paying attention to you. No one is looking at you to identify all the things that only you dislike. Everyone in the room is focused on their own shit and this is what makes yoga so refreshing.
Don't get me wrong, I like a good HIIT session but there is a 'spiritual' awakening and staying connected with who you are that you cannot get anywhere else except with yoga.
If you can find a studio that only does yoga, your experience will be exponentially better!
--Jack Morgan, Financeeo
An underrated benefit of yoga is improved heart health. The deep breathing techniques combined with mindful stretches increases circulation around the body. This movement lowers blood pressure and enhances the delivery of nutrients around the body, including to your heart. This means that it works to decrease the risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
*Mindfulness -* The beauty of yoga is that it helps you both on and off the mat. Through harnessing the power of deep breathing and deliberate slow movement yoga allows you to develop mindfulness. Mindfulness is about being aware of your actions, whether that’s your relationships, eating habits, or anything else that you decide to bring into your consciousness. It has been shown to have a profound effect on overall health.
--Stacie May, Lucky Watcher
I run over 100 miles every week so injury prevention is always on my radar. Yoga is crucial to helping me recover and prepare for races.
The mindfulness element of yoga and focus on breathing makes a big difference in getting me in tune with my body.
As well as building up my strength in my full range of motion, it helps me learn to listen to my body and identify potential areas of weakness, and what is getting sore and tight. Which I can work on strengthening or protecting.
--Rhys Jenkins, Pegasus Ultra Running
For me, the benefits of yoga are countless. I'd day the greatest benefits I've seen (aside from increased muscle tone and decreased stress), is the sense of community. Whether I'm doing an online class or attending in person at my local studio, doing yoga with people brings me that warm feeling.
--Renee Shaw, This Anxious Mum
The breathing techniques inherent in yoga are instrumental in assisting a mindfulness practice. By focusing on my breathing during yoga, I've found myself able to calm my thoughts when distressed, so I come out of yoga feeling refreshed. That relaxation is on top of the obvious benefit of physical health, as I've noticed development in my flexibility and muscle toning from ongoing practice. The power of community cannot be understated either, and I've found the yoga community to be very welcoming, friendly, and encouraging, which helps bring an overall sense of well-being to life.
--Patricia Celan, LinkedIn profile
I myself practise yoga 2 to 3 times a week, and I fit it around a full-time role plus my own business too within Wedding Planning. Now that my local yoga studio is closed, they are offering zoom sessions which is amazing - I am a convert to this form of teaching.
But what I wanted to talk with you about and propose to you is that yoga and wedding planning go hand in hand.
Couples hire me to take the pressure, stress and drama away from their wedding days however not only do I sort the logistics and event design for them, but I also work with them on practicing mindfulness throughout their wedding planning. Wedding planning can be one of the more stressful periods of your life, even though it is something that is supposed to be fun and positive. What with family pressure, stress from friends, money and also each other it can be so difficult. This is why I work with my couples and give them weekly hints and tips about how they can reduce the stress. This is something I offer and not all embrace it, but those that do really start to see a difference in their mindset. In the lead up to the day I send through youtube yoga videos, breathing exercises, mandala colouring in, gratitude journal exercises: just something to take them away from their anxiety.
Yoga is a big element of this that I vouch and encourage. The movement of the body, breathing practise and also the moment of stillness can be so helpful to calm. Centreing oneself through yoga can be a really wonderful way to relieve stress and if you do it together a great tool to reconnect, or on your own a great way to give yourself time. Many brides say that they struggle with the expectations of their wedding, to the extent that they don't feel present or excited when the day arrives. In the lead up to the day, yoga can be a great way to add peace, but also ground oneself.
There is a lot of pressure on couples to look a certain way, and getting your body moving can really increase not just flexibility, your heart rate and make you feel good, but it allows you to truly understand and appreciate what your body is. Move over self-deprecation and worry and embrace the self-love by practising chants, special gratitude vinyasa flows and working with your body rather than against it.
It is great for Brides and Grooms looking to hit their fitness goals should that be a concern. Meditation through yoga gives you headspace that allows you to make really connected and intentional decisions too. Often within anxiety and stress, we can react from a limited perspective fueled by whatever is wrong at that moment, however, yoga and meditation allows you to shift your attitude by looking at the bigger picture (perfect for wedding planning) and to create more intentional choices. This is something that as a Wedding Planner I really embrace and feel is something that is overlooked and is a great way to really be present, happy, healthy and joyful at your wedding.
--Lauren Alexander, Lauren Alexander Weddings
How Yoga enriched my life:
I was at the peak of hopelessness and negativity and about to fall in the ditch of death when I started puking blood in April 2018. I was diagnosed with advance stage pulmonary tuberculosis while already fighting with chronic hepatitis b for the last 20 years.
When I started TB medication, my liver got severely ill due to toxic effects of these strong antibiotics. I was in a dangerous dilemma as if I continued with TB medication, my liver would have collapsed and if I did not, my TB would have killed me.
Left with no other options, I went to Rishikesh, India which is known for Yoga and Spirituality and there I got a glimpse of the powerful healing effects of Yoga. I learned some simple Yoga Pranayama and Body Poses especially useful for the liver and started practicing them every morning.
In just one month, my liver functions started getting normal. I got the strong belief that Yoga has the potential to heal my body and mind completely if I remained honest with it.
Not only I was healed physically and mentally but It also filled me with positivity for future.
Since then, I am a strong believer and follower of Yoga and have dedicated myself to spread awareness about benefits of yoga through my website ourpositivestory.com
--Sampark Ray, ourpositivestory.com
*Response:* As a business owner there are so many details to take care of, it can feel overwhelming. Yoga helps me center my thoughts and gets me to a space of calm fairly quickly. Thereafter I find I am better about to focus on the task at hand and think clearly. While social distancing I've really enjoyed Yoga with Adrienne on Youtube. Her sequences are designed for reflection on specific areas (like vulnerability, back pain etc.) and her approach is extremely soothing - she's like a best friend.
--Sashreka Pillay, Take Us Digital
1. Develop strength - There's no doubt about it, Yoga is fantastic for building strength. Especially when you progress to handstands. And strength is so important for daily life as well as your functional fitness levels, making it all the more important to keep it up.
2. Improve Flexibility - Regular stretching does wonders for your joint and muscle flexibility. Especially if you do Bikram Yoga (hot Yoga) as the heat really helps you to push your flexibility a little further. It's ideal for those who do a lot of strength training or running, as these types of exercises can cause muscles to tighten up which in turn can cause pain or injury. So, Yoga is also great as a supplementary exercise.
3. De- Stress - A big theme that runs throughout Yoga is liberation. The more meditative side of the ancient practice is about doing away with all the thoughts that are running around your head and freeing your mind
4. Improve your posture - So many of us spend all day sat at desks in front of a computer screen, which can lead to all sorts of problems. It would seem that almost everyone has some sort of issue in their back or shoulders. Because Yoga works on your core strength and flexibility, it really helps you become more aware of your posture. And by building strength in your back, you'll be more comfortable sitting up straight and helping to prevent issues from sitting poorly.
5. Prepare for the future - Muscle strength and joint flexibility is not only important for everyday life but it's also important for helping to prevent any issues further down the line. The older we get, the more prone we are to injury. But by building up strength, we can stay balanced and in good working order.
--Issy Davis Crick, Mirafit
As we get older the need for exercise seems greater but energy levels at an all time low. I've been using yoga to help me with back and leg pain, and I'm delighted to say this works. I now feel more energetic and more flexible, even reaching high and low is not a problem anymore. I first used yoga at home in front of the TV with a video of a yoga trainer to ease me into the different kinds of poses I will need to perform. I enjoyed the personal experience and thought I may even enjoy a yoga class in a group environment, I'm glad I did so as I have created new friendships and even go outside with some of my class mates to perform yoga in the local park on a sunny day.
--Elliott Reimers, Rave Reviews
I am a personal trainer and I consider myself a fitness enthusiast. I train 6 days a week and it's taken a toll on me. I incorporated yoga in my routine and the following are the changes that I have noticed.
Yoga Improved my flexibility - During your first attempt, you probably won't be able to touch your toes. But if you stick with it, you'll notice a gradual loosening, and eventually, seemingly impossible poses will become possible due to increased flexibility. In my case, I noticed that aches and pains started to disappear. Builds muscle strength - You don’t only build strength whilst lifting weights. Maintaining and holding yoga positions for a certain period of time also helps in strengthening your muscles. Strong muscles do more than looking good.
- They also protect us from conditions like arthritis and back pain and help prevent falls in elderly people. And when you build strength through yoga, you balance it with flexibility.
- If you just went to the gym and lifted weights, you might build strength at the expense of flexibility.
Helped with my posture - This one, in particular, is important to me. You must have noticed a lot of people with bad postures, such as slouched shoulders and rounded back. It is not good for your back as it starts to strain those muscles. Poor posture can cause back, neck, and other muscle and joint problemsIt was a similar case with me until I started practicing yoga along with regular gym workouts, it helped me immensely with my posture. I noticed that my back no longer fatigued and my head was balanced directly above the spine, instead of a few inches forward.
--Ahmed SaadAli, DSRPT
What are the benefits of yoga and how has it enriched your life?
Yoga is not just for flexible people - it is for people of all body types and fitness levels. Yoga means union - the union of body and mind. When we practice yoga, we are practicing a moving meditation. This connection between mind, body and breath allows us to feel grounded and centered, strong and humble. Connect your breath to movement, inhaling and exhaling as you find calmness and strength in the postures, however simple they may seem! It is important to carry that feeling of mindfulness off the mat with you throughout the day. You can begin yoga at any point in your life.
Even if you have never practiced before, consider starting now, from home. There are a wealth of videos available online, for free, that you can do safely in the comfort of your home.
--Jasmine Almeida, Yogalastics
I have been practising Yoga for past 8 years now. It has not only transformed my life in many ways but also enhanced my emotional and physical well-being. My body feels stronger, more flexible and calmer.
Nine years ago, I met a small accident in which I developed issues in my back. Though my doctor prescribed some medicines and exercises, the pain never left me. Then the only thing that came to my rescue was Yoga. I started practising few yoga poses – Constructive Rest Pose and Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose.
Not only was my back healed, but my spine also became strong. Practising yoga has saved me from a lifetime of agonizing back pain.
Now yoga has been a part of my day-to-day life and because of it, I feel less stressed, less exhausted, more flexible, stronger mentally and physically. I have improved posture and stamina and I am able to focus better with a deep sense of inner calm and clarity.
Yoga has made my life a total bliss!
--Chris Norris, Sleep Standards
When I discovered vinyasa yoga at 18, I was able to enjoy movement and cultivate stamina for the first time. I developed muscle mass, endurance and flexibility while also learning to regulate my emotions through breath work and concentration. Yoga has helped me to heal quickly from injuries and to maintain a healthy relationship to food. I have now practiced yoga for 21 years and for 17 of those years I taught yoga in gyms, studios, schools and festivals. In addition to the physiological benefits, yoga has provided for me a community of like minded individuals who enjoy mindfulness, embodiment and conscientious action. Yoga has been my framework for spiritual exploration and answered many of the ineffable questions I found to be answered unsatisfactorily in the western paradigm of philosophy and religion. There is no other single endeavor in my life that has permeated so many areas of wellness and joy.
--Indigo Stray Conger, Choosing Therapy
Each morning before work, I practice yoga and meditation for about an hour. My 4-year-old son caught me doing yoga one morning so now likes to get up early to join me.
I have noticed an increase in flexibility and energy since doing yoga regularly. It helps me feel relaxed so I have less stress throughout the day.
My son says it is fun and he enjoys doing the different poses like down doggie, as he calls it.
Since my son and I have been doing yoga together, I feel like we have bonded way more. He was a daddy's boy before and only seemed to enjoy doing things with his dad.
I love to learn new yoga poses by watching YouTube videos and attended yoga at the gym before the pandemic.
--Becky Beach, Mom Beach
*How was Yoga enriched your life? *
As a dentist, I sit for surgeries that can last for hours and that makes me prone to chronic back, neck and shoulder pain. I tried to deal with it by going to a massage therapist biweekly, visited a couple of chiropractors and even to the point that I tried various medicated ointments to help with the pain and nothing worked except Yoga. I started Yoga back in 2013 and since then my back and shoulders feel much better and the chronic pain that I had is minimum to none.
My yoga master always tells me that Yoga won't help you unless you deal with the issues in the tissues. These are issues that include trapped emotions, bad habits and things that make your life difficult. I'm still learning and taking one step at a time but after going or should I say growing through these experiences with the help of Yoga has been amazing and life-changing.
--Ameerzeb Pirzada, Z Dental Studio
I have been teaching yoga for about fourteen years, after an unexpected illness and surgery eight years ago when I had to depend on my knowledge of teaching chair yoga to aid in my own recovery I decided to focus solely on teaching chair yoga and fall prevention to seniors as I saw the huge benefits that yoga can bring to this population.
My experience changed my life in the way I felt so vulnerable in my recovery, I recognized that this was how many of my senior yogis felt much of the time. I have truly found my calling in reaching this vulnerable group of people and love my work in helping them gain and retain strength flexibility, balance and maintaining their independence.
As well as the above benefits yoga is wonderful for bringing balance to our lives, especially now in the current stressful situation., I have done a few short sessions online and my seniors absolutely love the connection and being able to move in their own homes. Yoga helps us to stay grounded, focus on being in the present moment, slow down the racing thoughts in our minds and activate the parasympathetic nerve that helps release trauma from the body.
With my eldest yogi being 95 years young, she took up yoga only a year ago, I would definitely say that you are never too old to give yoga a try.
--Rachel Baer, Yoga-Keeps-Me-Fit
The sanskrit word Yoga translates to Union Yolking a sense of coming together. I see this in how when I come to the yoga mat I am asked to reconnect with what's going on inside myself. To really notice what it feels like to breathe, how I am feeling physically, and energetically. Yoga is the body, mind, and breath coming together in the present moment.
Because the yoga practice is so broad it is possible to find a new way to practice each day. Some days I need a stronger more heated practice, some days I need the softer more meditative side of the practice. The yoga postures (asana) help me feel more space in the body. The shapes are dynamic and multifaceted. Yoga emphasizes that it is not the action itself, but how you come to it, the quality of the action that matters.
By paying attention to how I move, and what it feels like I can develop a stronger relationship and understanding of who I am. Yoga is about compassionate development of an internal dialogue to ultimately feel more connected to ourselves and, in turn, others.
--Anne Koza Patrick, AnnieOm.com
I do yoga 1-3 times a week. I find it brings balance to my life. While I still lift weights and run, yoga helps release the tension built up from my hectic lifestyle unlike other workouts can do. The biggest benefit has been the ability to use my breath to focus and stay positive. By learning to control my breathing I've not only improved my yoga practice but have achieved a level of inner peace and comfort that has helped improve my overall life.
--Erik Abramowitz, HolisticNootropics.com
I started practicing Yoga about 15 years ago. In 2018 I decided to become a Yoga instructor so I enrolled myself in an intensive Yoga teacher training course in an ashram in Germany. Before I became a teacher, I thought that Yoga was all about increasing relaxation, flexibility and strength. The time I spent in the ashram helped me realise that Yoga is so much more than that. First of all, I became more aware of the spiritual side of Yoga so I started to explore meditation at a deeper level. It has now become part of my daily routine. I understand that Yoga provides the physical and energetic preparation for meditation. Meditation is the practice of feeling who we really are: bliss. I am now much more aware of my feelings and I am able to catch the tail end of negative emotions and turn them around. I can stay centered longer and now let myself be influenced by my surroundings.
--Evelise Ribeiro, Trash Stress
Yoga calms me, helps me to refocus, look inward, and see an eternal perspective. It’s just me, doing something good for my body, listening to my breath and practicing listening. When I’m in a practice, I feel appreciative of my physical body, it’s capabilities, and realize the stress, pressure, and food I put into it affects it. I like to remember my body is a one of a kind vessel and a blessing that can produce miracles, treat it as such. My favorite app is Asana Rebel, I can do this when at a hotel if traveling, or any time of day at home.
--Courtney Webb, Instagram profile
Around 5 months back, my wife, who has been fond of Yoga since last 5 years tried to coax me into at least trying one of her classes.
Frankly, I always thought of Yoga to be a boring way to exercise where you just do a poses more suitable for a contortionist then someone who wants to work out.
So I went for my first class 5 months back and today I am thankful to my wife for pushing me into it.
Here are the benefits I experienced from doing a combination of Hatha Yoga and Vinyasa 5 days a week, where each session lasted 1 hour 15 mins daily under an awesome teacher ( who by the way made me write almost essay level long descriptions of my neck pain and knee stress ).
1) Knee Pain = Gone!
Yes, I was taking my vitamin supplements and doing knee safe exercises, but knee pain was always there. Some days it was worse and some days were better but knee pain was never 100% gone.
Just after 1st month into Yoga, I found a lot of relief. And as of today, 5 months in, it's almost like I never had it.
I have never in my life stretched my legs the way we are made to in Yoga class. One of the most tough ( & beneficial ) aasanas for my knee pain have been Hanuman Aasana and Virbhadra Aasana.
2) Neck Pain and Lower Back Pain = 80% Gone
I still have both, but only around 20% left, which I would blame more on my working hour and posture ( which I am trying to correct slowly ).
A lot of aasans like Parivratta Parsvakonaasana, Parvataasana and Utkatasana helped me a great ton with my both neck and back pain.
3) Mindfulness - I have meditated before, but, in Yogic practice, we have to be present on our mats for ourselves all the time. Every asana or pose you hold, you have to observe what is happening in your body. My teacher always asks us to stabilize our thoughts and in turn mind before trying out poses ( like vrikshasana ) which require a lot of balance.
This has resulted in me being more focused on my work throughout the day, being less agitated on roadblocks and being mindful about my reactions.
Overall I feel really happy and light since I took up Yoga and I make sure to tell everyone to atleast try it for a week. 🙂
--Ivan Green, TheCannabisRadar.com
I started going to yoga classes at a local gym one year ago in order to get more flexible. I quickly realized that everyone in the class was already more flexible than me. I decided to take it easy and not push myself too much to avoid injury. Surprisingly, after each class I felt a sense of peace and tranquility. I have a stressful job and going to a yoga class at the end of my day shifted my mood from intense to relaxed. Soon I began practicing yoga at home. This way I can pace myself and be gentle to my body. I always use an essential oils diffuser when I practice yoga. It makes a huge difference. I rotate relaxation-enhancing oils such as lavender, marjoram, frankincense, and cedarwood. I began looking forward to “me time” when all the problems of the world ceased to exist. Yoga is so much more than a physical exercise: it is a way for stress relief and tranquility.
--Milana Perepyolkina, Gypsy Energy Secrets
Yoga changed my life tremendously, as it not only put me on a whole new career path as an instructor, but it also kickstarted my own personal healing. That's what yoga does, helps us to heal any deep-seated wounds from our life. It's been westernized as a fitness routine, but it is a mental fitness routine. The physical movement of yoga is only one of 8 different aspects of the full yoga practice and it's intended to prepare our bodies for meditation, create focus, mindfulness, move our energy, and unlock stuck emotions. It absolutely does just that; it's the reason it's common for people to cry during a yoga class. Yoga has helped me to root out and overcome everything from anger, to frustrations, to reasons why I let emotional abuse happen in relationships, to stress, anxiety, and depression. It is one of the greatest healing modalities in the world...as long as we're aware that's what does for us.
--Melaney Wolf, melaneywolf.com
Yoga saved my back! I'm a rough and tough kind of guy so I didn't expect much out of my first yoga class but my wife recommended it to me after I injured myself while playing football with friends. I've had knee problems since high school and some joint pain, so combined with a back injury by doctor told me to take it easy and slow when it comes to exercise and healing. I signed up for a yoga class at a nearby studio and was surprised at how much balance was involved. My first week I was hesitant at the whole thing, but by the end of just 3 classes, I already noticed a difference in my posture, flexibility, and pain levels with my back. I continued the practice and it helped me recuperate while still doing something for my body. After doing yoga for a number of months, my back felt amazing compared to when I went to my first class! I still go once a week when my schedule permits, but I'm really thankful for what yoga has done for my life.
--Greg Dodson, Alabrava
YOGA HAS ENRICHED MY LIFE IN WAYS TOO NUMEROUS TO MENTION!
These are just a few of the many ways yoga has impacted and enriched my life:
1. Physical - Since starting my practice in the the mid nineties, I am stronger, more flexible, have better posture and balance, and the list goes on.
2. Mental - I have found yoga to help me relax, to be less anxious, to feel calmer, and yoga has improved my general outlook on life. Through regular yoga practice and meditation, I feel less stressed, and better able to cope with life in general.
3. Teaching - As a yoga teacher, I currently still teach classes in the small rural community where I live. Despite quarantine conditions, I have 4 students and we are able to practice social distancing because of the small class. Best of all, we practice outside in the sunshine within full view of the beautiful Dragoon Mountains surrounding our tiny village. In this way, I offer my students relaxation, socialization, health and wellness, and a safe haven from the pervasive fear, panic, isolation, and devastation wrought by COVID-19. I was also selected to take part in a video of yoga teachers worldwide to speak on the topic of gratitude. (This video is still a work in progress.)
--Donna Brown, Facebook profile
When I first started practicing yoga about 12 years ago, I didn't like it, not one bit. I had been a runner, a very busy person who was always on the go, and the thought of sitting still drove me crazy. The only reason I stuck with it, was because of the physical benefits I received. After each class, I felt less stiff, had no pain, and was calmer. As I stuck with it and deepened my practice, I learned to get quiet, go inside and even meditate. Thank goodness I had an experienced yoga instructor that not only taught yoga, but lived it her whole life. Yoga helped me to change my whole way of living.
It was through this amazing teacher, that I learned the gifts of peace, calm and strength that yoga gives. I highly recommend that you try it for a few weeks, until you can experience the full benefits.
*Physical Benefits of Yoga*
No other exercise compares to yoga for the all around physical, emotional and mental benefits it provides. Yoga will help you improve your flexibility, increase muscle tone and strength, improve your balance, help you lose weight, enhance your athletic performance, protect you from injury, help you heal pain, improve your breathing, boost your energy and metabolism, and these are just the physical benefits.
*Mental benefits of yoga*
Practicing yoga will help you reduce the chatter in your mind. When we focus on each of our positions (asanas), and concentrate on our breathing, the anxious thoughts running through our mind, drop away to the background, until we no longer notice them. If you practice yoga consistently, your mind will become more peaceful, and bring you a calm sense of well-being.
*Spiritual benefits of yoga *
The essence of yoga is the union of mind, body and spirit. A healthy mind-body connection means that your thoughts are positively affecting your cells. Through yoga, you cultivate the connection between your healthy mind, and strong physical body, while you are in a state of grounded restful awareness. This awareness is the deeper part of yourself that is connected to higher states of consciousness which creates greater vitality and wellness in your whole being. In other words, that mental chatter in your head drops away, so you can connect with your true self.
Yoga is for people of all ages, from children to seniors. I can't think of any other form of exercise or meditation which provides the all around well-being that yoga does.
--Lynell Ross, Zivadream
- Benefits of Yoga: Yoga combines physical movements and postures (asanas) with breath work and mindfulness. Not only does yoga increase flexibility, but it also helps strengthen your muscles and creates a strong mind body connection. Yoga is an opportunity to calm the mind and focus on your breath - something we don't always have the chance to do in our busy everyday lives. Yoga helps us stay present in the now, which in turn helps with stress management and focus off the mat.
- Yoga has truly transformed my life. The breathing techniques I've learned in class have helped me mange my anxiety and overall mental health outside the studio. Physically, yoga has helped me gain strength that I never thought I would be possible.
- My personal story: I have experienced the many benefits of yoga first hand. When I first started attending yoga classes, I was under the impression it was all about touching your toes and making difficult shapes. While yoga absolutely helps with flexibility, I found that yoga provided so much more than just physical benefits. It allowed me an opportunity to slow down, tune inwards, breathe and move mindfully.
- In yoga, we learn to breathe through our most difficult postures. When we are experiencing difficult holds or balancing poses, we are taught to breath into that space and concentrate on our breath to help guide us through. This is something that can be translated off the mat as well. Yoga teaches us that when life gets tough and overwhelming, you can always come back to your breath and breathe through your most difficult tasks.
--Stephanie Morgan, XoStephMorgan.com
I've been doing yoga every day for 6+ years, after taking a long hiatus from it. I was struggling to find the time after having kids and working.
But the reason I found my way back to yoga is because I was so burned out. I had a full-time job, 2 young kids, and I was struggling to find balance. I decided to make the time every day. I'm so glad I did! Finding my way back to yoga was essential to my emotional, physical and mental health. When I was recently diagnosed with an auto-immune condition last year, I decided to shift to restorative/relaxing poses. It also helped me to accept my condition rather than lament over it.
Yoga has had a profound effect on helping me manage my condition and dealing with stress.
--Drea Matsuda, Cosmic Soul Studio
I was a competitive swimmer throughout high school and college and didn’t think much of yoga back then. I came to yoga a few years after college with no access to a pool, sick of the treadmill, and in need of home workouts. Initially, I wanted to challenge myself and learn how to do a handstand. I started following a few girls on Instagram, who claimed to have learned how to do various headstand formations through their practice of yoga. So I tried it. I practiced yoga daily for a year or so, and I found myself to be getting stronger and more flexible. As I began to accomplish my goals of being able to do a headstand, I started to explore the other aspects of yoga and found the different approaches to yoga to be wildly fascinating. My dad was a practicing yogi and taught various breathing and meditation techniques, which I started to practice with him. I wanted a deeper understanding of the practice of yoga and how it affected my body, and so, I began my journey through a teacher training program, and through this program, I began to notice changes in my posture and I was able to cultivate a deeper awareness of my body (through various exercises) and of my mind (through pauses, breathing exercises, and meditations). Once I experienced this holistic immersion into yoga, I couldn’t go back to just thinking of yoga as stretching. Yoga was so much more, and I wanted to share this depth in my own teaching.
--Muskaan Nanda, LinkedIn profile
Often people come to a yoga class to become more flexible or release stress but there is so much more to yoga!
Yoga is a complete workout. Beginners can expect to understand better how to use their bodies in a way that feels good. They will feel sore in places that they have never imagined before as yoga works their deep muscles that help with posture. They will also learn how to sit and stand properly with correct alignment. A lot of people report feeling less back pain or neck pain from having a better posture.
*Increased emotional stability:*
Yoga increases the mind-body connection and develops mindfulness which means beginners will feel more aware of the present moment and start to pick up patterns. They will also start developing the tools to come back to balance when they are feeling off by doing specific postures, breathing techniques, or meditation exercises.
--Lucile Hernandez Rodriguez, lucilehr.com
Yoga has many benefits for the mind, body, and soul. Yoga means union, and this is referring to union to the world, nature, the universe, and everybody in it. Yoga also refers to union to oneself. Many believe that yoga is just exercise, but the poses are just one of eight limbs of yoga. Two of these limbs are the Yamas and Niyamas, and these teach us practices to better love and respect ourselves as well as those in our lives. These limbs also include breathing techniques and many levels of meditation. I have been teaching yoga for six years, and practicing for over twelve years. When I decided to take a yoga teacher training, it was during one of the most difficult times in my life, and I learned how to find beauty and love in that time. The more I practiced, the more I learned how to make choices with love, and how to love myself more as well.
Yoga is a lifestyle and a very important practice, and I highly recommend that everybody should try it.
--Lindsay Luterman, eMediHealth profile
My yoga journey began in 2002 as a way to lose weight for my wedding. I had no idea that completing that VHS (!) tape workout every day for three months would have such an impact on my life. I lost weight doing yoga, but more than that, I gained confidence in my body and myself. Anytime I took a break from my yoga practice, I gained weight, and felt sluggish physically and mentally, so back to the tape I would go. In 2005, I started teaching step aerobics at a local YMCA and they gave me a free membership. That is when I began to take live yoga classes with instructors. I loved the variety of instructors and their cues that helped refine the postures that I hoped I was doing correctly at home, but did not really know if that was true. Their gentle instruction kept me coming back for more and more through all the phases of my life - marriage, children, career ups and downs, money woes, etc. These instructors also shared their knowledge about yogic concepts and made me curious to learn about all facets of yoga. Fast forward to my college friends introducing me to hot yoga in 2017. The strength, power, and community I found there was addicting. I earned my 200 hour registered yoga teacher certification in 2018 and I have been teaching part-time ever since. The reward in teaching is seeing students leave class with mental clarity and focus, a calmly energized body, and/or an emotional release that makes them confident to seize the rest of their day. Yoga truly is for everyone - no matter your size, shape, age, ability - there is a yoga style for the time of life you are in right now. Give it a chance. It could become the secret weapon that supports you through all the stages and phases of your life to bring you strength, focus, and calm.
--Tara Bethell, Copper Quail Consulting
If you have ever felt anxious or overwhelmed, practicing yoga can really help you get your mind and body centered. I have really found practicing yoga helps ease my anxiety, and I always feel refreshed after. Not only has yoga helped me better cope with my anxiety, it has also helped me in other aspects of exercise. I breathe better while running and have a better active recovery and overall recovery after a run or a HIIT workout. I better engage my core during weight lifting exercises and no longer hold my breath because yoga teaches you proper breathing techniques. I could truly go on about yoga all day as its benefits both mind and body are truly endless.
--Valerie, A Peach in the Queen City
I am a yoga teacher with 13 years teaching experience and 19 years practice experience. I am also a physical therapist with 12 years experience.
Yoga is my consistent companion that navigates me through life. It is the practice of steady breath that keeps me in the present moment, grounds me and connects me to me and everything and everyone around me. It shows me who I am, how to forgive myself and teaches me compassion towards myself and others as best as I can in that moment. I wonder who I would be without it.
Like most people, I was initially drawn to the physical practice. I seemed to have the body for the postures and it came quite naturally to me. What I didn’t know at the time was how my future would unfold as a result of those yoga classes in my local gym twice a week. As time passed, life began to change and it was at this time, I decided to give up my busy senior PA role (and part-time party animal) to become a yoga teacher. Two teacher trainings later and a 2 year stint travelling to and from India, I taught my first class in London in 2007.
I’ve participated in many courses, another teacher training and countless manual therapy courses over the past 13 years. Whilst I manage self-employment, teaching group classes, working clinically on a one-to-one basis, my yoga practice has remained my steady reliable companion. Yoga keeps me on track, helps with my mental focus, prepares me for the day ahead and allows me to remain steady in body and mind so I can help others.
I commit to myself, every morning, to sit in my clinic room and practice yoga. Sometimes I meditate, sometimes I practice yoga and meditate, sometimes I focus on my physical therapy, meditation and yoga practice. It is important to remember yoga IS for everyone and every body. It is NOT about touching your toes (I can’t tell you how many times people have said “I can’t touch my toes” over the years). I would urge everyone to try many classes to find a practice that suits you. It doesn’t have to come in the form of a difficult posture practice, but can be restorative by nature, healing, nurturing and nourishing as well as developing strength, steadiness of mind and overall mental and physical clarity, health and wellbeing.
I know attending a yoga class for the first time can feel intimidating. We’ve all been there. Me too. But remind yourself that we all started somewhere, most of us at the beginning, and like a child, arrive at your mat with an open heart and an open mind and allow things to unfold naturally and in their own time.
--Rachel Barlow, rachelbarlow.co.uk
I started practicing yoga and meditation (as separate endeavors) in 1994 to increase my flexibility and offset the stress of my first high-tech, corporate job. In 2012 I suffered from what's now diagnosed as burnout, and in an attempt to help myself I took my first yoga teacher training. It changed the course of my life, and taught me that I wasn't really that type-A, perfectionist that had to work so hard for approval. I left the career (and life) I had built and started my own health coaching business. On the way I did an advanced yoga training (Yoga Therapy) that helped me apply yoga practices to various health conditions including chronic pain, stress, and insomnia. This was very convenient as at the time, I was struggling with an un-diagnosed health issue and could not do my usual physical activities, and the stress of going to doctors who had no idea what was wrong with me and sent me home telling me I was fine started to cause anxiety / depression. Once again I applied what I learned to my own situation. Today I'm a Sleep Wellness Coach who helps busy people struggling with sleep & energy (due to a variety of other issues) learn to sleep better and make lasting lifestyle changes. I also teach Beginner Yoga series to help people who are uncertain whether they can do yoga take the first step. It's always such a joy seeing their confidence grow!
--Kali Patrick, kalisleepcoach.com
Yoga has pretty much changed my life. I started practising it more regularly ever since I visited a very special ashram in Bali. I had just shaved my head (having ditched wigs the week before), left my copywriting job in an ad agency back in Ireland and was facing 2 months of solo travel (my first ever solo trip), completely bald. Needless to say, I needed some grounding (!!) and my first week in an ashram gave me all of that, and so much more.
In my yoga page on Lady Alopecia, I talk more about yoga's physical, mental and social benefits but the main benefit I've noticed is that it's helped me to be mindful, in every aspect of my life. No matter what's going on, I can use yoga to reconnect with how my body feels, to tune into my breath and to also see where my mind's at. Since doing my teacher training 18 months ago, I've become much more aware of these things and I've seen first-hand the benefits a mindful and grounding practice (especially Yin) can bring to those who need it most!
Other topline benefits:
- Improved strength and flexibility
- The chance to connect with a new community
- Mental space and emotional resilience
- The joy of learning a new skill
- Time out to yourself
- A chance to practice deep relaxation, which most of us never do!
- Improved mood, focus and clarity
Absolutely anyone, regardless of age, fitness or flexibility can practice yoga. After all, the most important part of it is simply learning to breathe! The fancy poses don't matter...as long as you can tune into your breath, notice the movements your body makes and how those affect your mind – that's yoga.
--Emma Sothern, omwithemyoga.com
I first began practicing yoga in a dark conference room of the public library in Pittsburgh, where they had free community classes on Saturday mornings. It was led by a woman in her 70s with a thick Hungarian accent. I was 15 at the time and the only person in the dark room who wasn’t a senior citizen.
It was 1979. I felt like I had stumbled upon a secret. Everyone in the room was so flexible and limber, youthful despite their ages. The guide had such a velvety and hypnotic voice, teaching and showing us the poses with encouragement, rather than a boastful demeanor of her own movement prowess. I showed up every Saturday for a year.
Off and on during the years since then I have taken yoga in the gyms I belonged to, always enjoying my return and wondering why I had ever stopped.
Seven years ago I tried a 90 minute hot yoga class and immediately felt like it was a challenge I would never get used to... I kept returning day after day to see if it would ever get easier. The heat was 105 degrees Fahrenheit minimum and the humidity was at least 46%. Every time I went into the studio, I was bringing a different set of experiences from the past 24 hours, resulting in that the practice was different every single time! What I ate, drank, moved, how I slept, my emotional experiences from the day before, it ALL affects the next day’s practice. So I was totally hooked on the familiar and yet unknown on a daily basis!
As humans we are constantly changing and that is the reminder from my yoga practice. It has helped me heal from 3rd degree burns on 3/4 of my body. It has helped my arthritis in my back and knees. It has helped my attitude for the reminder of the day after my practice. It has helped me be a more patient, compassionate, empathetic, and kind spirit on the planet.
I encourage everyone to enjoy the benefits from yoga. There are no fancy tools to buy to do the work either. Bring your body, and the mind and heart will follow. I promise.
--KJ Landis, Superior Self
* Stress relief: Yoga has been proven to help in stress management, lowering anxiety, depression and cortisone levels. When we take the time, even just five minutes to focus our attention on the way our body feels, the content of our mind, and the quality of our breath, we enter into the present moment, which is a constant source of peace.
* Self-awareness: One of the biggest benefits of yoga is self-awareness and processing emotions. Yoga helps in self-awareness, which is especially important in processing emotions. Yoga is all about slowing down both physically and mentally, and as people slow down, they become more aware of what is happening all around them.
* Holistic fitness: True health comes from not only being physically fit, but also mentally and emotionally balanced. Yoga is a workout for not only the body, but for the mind and emotions as well.
* Weight loss: While yoga is not all about the body, weight loss is one inevitable effect of regular practice. Besides being a form of exercise, yoga calms down the mind and impulsive tendencies, which leads to an enhanced ability to slow down and make healthier decisions when it comes to food.
* Improve immunity: Our body, mind and spirit are inextricably connected, meaning any imbalance in the body affects the mind. Yoga poses massage the internal organs, strengthen muscles and increase circulation, all of which detoxify the body.
* Better intuition: When yoga is practiced, individuals activate and communicate with all the parts of their bodies, creating coherence in their brain and integration in their entire system.
* Better flexibility & posture: Practicing yoga regularly will automatically leave you with a body that is strong, supple, and flexible. A regular yoga practice stretches and tones the muscles and helps improve posture throughout the day.
* Better relationships: Yoga can even help improve your relationship with your spouse, parents, friends and loved ones. When your mind is relaxed, happy and content, you are better able to represent others and sensitive to your own behavior and how it affects those around you.
--Kimberly Rossi, artoflivingretreatcenter.org
After working with countless clients that chose to practice yoga through private yoga classes, I've learned that many people come to yoga because of an aching muscle or area, but stay because of so much more than that.
For me personally, I discovered the world of yoga while working in the restaurant industry. My anxiety was through the roof and I was also experiencing major lower back pain. I tried some studio classes but found that they weren't approachable enough for me. I was a beginner looking for a practice that beginners to yoga can do safely. Once I tried a private yoga class, I knew yoga is going to become a life long practice for me. I also learned that yoga is for everyone, even though studio yoga classes might not be for everyone.
The biggest benefit I experienced was the quieting of the mind. It felt like after years of living in a rocky sea, the water was finally calm and peaceful enough for me to see my reflection, hear my valuable thoughts. And if that wasn't enough, my lower back pain was finally manageable.
But as I mentioned, I came to yoga for these reasons but stayed for so much more. Throughout the years, yoga and meditation has helped me be more patient and kind, and have a more positive outlook on life.
I ended up falling so deeply in love with the world of yoga that I decided to become a yoga instructor and started a yoga business to help bring yoga to those who need it most through private yoga classes and all-inclusive international yoga retreats.
My advice to you - give yoga a chance but don't give up on it if it's not what you thought it will be. Many different people interpret yoga in their own way, and it may take a bit of time to find the type of yoga you can call your own.
--Shayna Hasson, Yoga Beyond The Studio
As a mental health professional, I regularly include a yoga practice as a part of my treatment plan for clients. As the psychiatrist and trauma specialist Bessel van der Kolk showed in a study on people with PTSD, yoga produced effects that were similar to those of psychopharmacology (medication, e.g. Prozac) and psychotherapy (counselling, e.g. EMDR). I have seen this time and time again with my own clients.
It's also clear in my own life experience that, while I don't meet the diagnostic criteria for a psychiatric disorder, I still benefit profoundly from a regular yoga practice. When I'm making time for yoga, my nervous system is noticeably more balanced. We know that when people's nervous systems are better regulated, along with mental health outcomes, it improves immune function, digestion, cognitive ability, social skill, and even sexual performance (since our immune, digestive, cortical, social engagement, and reproductive systems function optimally while we are in a physiological state of calm).
Basically, yoga is awesome, and we can all benefit from integrating it into our daily lives.
--John Roche, Clinical Director, Transformation Counselling
In our work with professional athletes spanning multiple sports, we’ve seen first hand that regular adherence to a yoga program can help to improve several aspects of athletic performance.
Being the official nutritional supplement supplier for “The Hockey Summit”, a summer training program for NHL players, we became involved with the development and recovery of top professionals from across the world.
Hockey requires a unique skating motion developed after years of practice and hockey players usually have very tight hips and over-trained lower backs. The Hockey Summit uses yoga on their daily schedule to increase the players flexibility, enhance their range of motion, and improve their recovery. Making yoga part of their summer program helps improve their functional, sport specific strength allowing them to enter the season better than the year before.
Though athletes usually only concentrate on their sport specific strength and conditioning, adding yoga to their routine improves their performance. From improving strength, flexibility, and respiratory capacity, to reducing chronic pain and inflammation, our athletes have seen real, measurable benefits from adding yoga into their regular training routine.
--Marc S. Schneider, dioxyme.com
Through my years of practicing yoga, the benefits obtained are not only on my physical and mental health, but particularly in my professional work. In my entire career, I have been dealing with the interrelationships between population trends, the environment, and socio-economic development. I worked in my native country (Colombia) in research, teaching, and policy-making, and I was with the United Nations working in the same area for 22 years until my retirement in 1999. Yoga principles helped me to understand that everything is interrelated and interconnected, and that every one of our actions will have effects on other people, as well as in nature and the entire environment. In this sense, I discovered through the years, that you can practice yoga "beyond the mat," in almost every activity we are involved, from the simple walking in the streets, taking a bus, socializing with other people, ... and also in voting and participating in every aspect of our daily life, trying to achieve the goals of yoga: respect of others.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that you can be very creative with how you do yoga. There’s a lot of different and fun ways to try yoga, such as couples yoga.
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