The Top 4 Benefits of Yoga: Not Your Doctor’s Checklist
By Sasha Stone
It may sound cliché, but yoga changed my life, and continues to with every practice. From that transformation, I have created this list of the top 4 benefits of yoga.
As a little preface, you should know that before yoga came into my life, I was a gym rat. I went to the gym because I wanted to be skinny and have good muscle tone. I continued to workout because it made me feel good and gave me energy. When yoga popped onto my scene, movement took on a whole new depth and I found elements I never even knew were missing. A decade later, yoga is my career and continues to be my passion.
Hidden Benefits of Yoga
1. Benefit of Yoga: The Super Sexy Factor
Yes, that’s right, yoga makes you super sexy, and it has nothing to do with being a contortionist. The deep internal work of lengthening and strengthening creates lean and flexible muscles that allow you to move with grace and fluidity. With increased ease of motion, you come to feel oh so good in your own body.
But the true sexiness reaches far beyond the physical plane. The practice of yoga shifts your focus inward, increasing your ability to be present and self-aware. Self-awareness is sexy! When you are present and aware in the world, your sense of compassion and gratitude for life expand. Gratitude leads to happiness, and there is nothing sexier than a happy person.
2. Benefit of Yoga: Lighten Up!
Who wants to be frazzled, frantic, and stressed out? Not me! Yet I was all of those things most of the time when I reached adulthood. Then I discovered the power of slow deep breaths. Connecting breath with movement is a pivotal part of the practice in most schools of yoga. Taking time each day to focus on your breath creates a calming effect on your entire nervous system, helping you to play it cool even when the heat gets turned up.
Learning to breathe through difficulty and tuning into your body’s communication system are tools you can use in your life, decreasing reactivity and increasing patience. This helps you to feel more grounded and centered, and quite honestly to take life a little less seriously. Being playful, turning upside down, and trying new ways of moving your body keeps things fresh and interesting both in and out of the studio. It makes you a little less hesitant to try new things and comfortable with being a beginner. Your need to be perfect is replaced by the joy of curiosity. How magnetic!
3. Benefit of Yoga: Do What You Want, Not What You Should
You are a whole being. Every element of you is connected and impacts the other, body, mind, and soul. When you start to move mindfully, opening up areas that were blocked, releasing tension, and awakening muscles that were basically asleep, you free a current of energy that taps into a wealth of creativity and inspiration. This can bring you in touch with the deeper truth of who are and what you want to do in this lifetime. You glimpse your greatness and your highest potential can come into reality.
4: Benefit of Yoga: The Gateway Drug to More Awesomeness
As you may have guessed, yoga is not just a physical practice for me. It is also a spiritual one and part of a larger lifestyle of self-care. Through yoga I was introduced to meditation, which is now an integral part of my daily existence. Not to mention extremely healthy and socially conscious eating habits and little to no desire to ingest intoxicants.
Once you start taking great care of yourself in one area, those habits expand to others, and the natural high feels so good that it bleeds into the rest of your life. I see it happen all the time with my students and private clients. Starting a dedicated yoga practice leads to further life transformations. This also happens to improve your relationships and your ability to surround yourself with nurturing, like-minded beings. How cool is that?
Of course there are many more benefits of yoga, but these are the big ones that most people miss! You might be wondering if I’m all of these things all of the time. Absolutely not. That’s why it’s called yoga practice. All of these elements are constantly in flux, being cultivated, expanding, moving in, up, out and through. But the point is, they are all present and accessible in a way they weren’t in my pre-yoga life.
Find a style you like, find a teacher you connect with, and start your journey within. The possibilities are infinite.
About the Author
Sasha Stone is a yoga teacher, Thai yoga massage therapist, wellness writer, and lover of life. You can find her at beopenyoga.com.
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