Strength & Balance. One can really achieve a great overall workout from practicing a few times a week. Flexibility, strength, and a cardiovascular workout are some of the benefits that might be achieved from a regular practice. Not only can you increase physical strength, but yoga may also help with mental strength. When moving in and out of the postures during your practice you can gain more body awareness, more confidence, and stability as you build the strength needed to hold the postures.
Stress-Relief. Another great reason to try out yoga is to help decrease stress by lowering cortisol levels. Yoga focuses on the breath (pranayama) as another important element of your asana practice. It may help lower stress levels by elongating your breath to help oxygenate the blood, relax the diaphragm and other organs while breathing, and bring the body into a calmer state. Practicing movement with deep breathing helps the muscles to let go of tension. Using different pranayama techniques during meditation can also help reduce stress by relaxing the body more and quieting the mind.
Focus & Clarity. You may wonder why I think this is such a great benefit, but my mind goes a million miles an hour sometimes. During my yoga practice I can finally achieve stillness and calmness in my mind! By focusing on the breath and bringing my awareness to my body and the present moment, the rest of my thoughts tend to slip away... creating a sense of well-being and peace. Learning to let the mind go and learning to embrace the stillness and movement of your practice can be a very beautiful thing, it just might take practice for some of us.
Spiritual Growth. Yoga is more than just some cool looking poses. One of the facets of a yoga practice is connecting the mind, body & spirit, and connecting with your inner self. With that inward reflection, one can start to observe themselves in a different light. In my 12 years of practicing yoga, I realized that I needed to do a lot of work with my inner self. I work daily on guiding my thoughts and emotions towards a more positive and loving light. I dedicated a lot of time and effort towards eating cleaner and being more kind to my body. All this has opened up the space for me to tap into my higher self and grow spiritually. Whether it's getting past mental road blocks, emotional blockages, accepting our own physical limitations, or whatever it is you are struggling with... yoga is a tool to help get you more in-tune with your higher vibration.
In yoga, your breath is perfection.
How can I learn more about Yoga?
There are so many different routes to consider when diving into the world of yoga. If you enjoy doing your research before starting something new, I recommend checking out the YOGA JOURNAL website. They have lots of helpful information on that site for all levels and beginners. If you enjoy reading there are many books on Yoga, but here are some of my recommended texts: