Today, I’ll be sharing the top 5 benefits I’ve experienced from yoga that have nothing to do with asanas. While aspiring to achieve physical yoga postures is a gratifying accomplishment, there are so many incredible benefits of cultivating a consistent yoga practice that has nothing to do with striving for advanced poses.
The 5 Best Aspects of Yoga
I’m excited to be sharing the following side effects of yoga as a reminder not just to you all, but also to myself, of the non-physical benefits of the practice. Enjoy!
1. Increased self-awareness
Yoga has helped me cultivate a stronger sense of self. By paying close attention to my body and mind, I have come to better understand my quirks and what makes me unique. Next time you’re practicing, try to notice the subtle nuances of your body and thought processes. What relaxes your mind and what frustrates you? Examine why that might be, then work to release that tension.
2. Improved sleep
Before starting yoga, I had issues with insomnia. At times I would lie awake at night ruminating about the day’s events, creating to-do lists in my head, or getting anxious about what tomorrow might entail. Yoga has helped me clear my mind and fall asleep with ease. If you find yourself lying awake at night or waking several times throughout the night due to stress, try some bedtime yoga. A forward fold, happy baby, corpse pose mixed in with some pranayama to slow your breathing and before you know it…Goodnight!
3. Healthier Diet
Yoga has helped me become more mindful of what I put into my body. For me, this means treating my body kindly with nourishing juices, smoothies, nutrient-rich foods, and herbal teas. I still love to treat myself to desserts and my favorite indulgent foods, but I do so in moderation. Try sticking to the 80/20 rule: 80% healthful foods, 20% indulgent. That way, you are eating mostly nutritious, but still allowing yourself the satisfaction of that ice cream sundae when you so desire 🙂
4. Reduced stress
I find that regardless of what’s happening in my personal or professional life, yoga helps keep me centered. Being able to bring my yoga everywhere has helped me stop stress before it spirals out of control. Feeling overwhelmed by your inbox? Meditate for a minute in lotus. Get in a tense conversation with a friend? Take some deep breaths and a few shoulder rolls before returning to the dialogue. I find yoga to be a bit like a secret manual for how to release anxiety and unnecessary tension from life.
5. Making friends
Connecting to like-minded yogis is one of my favorite aspects of having a practice. Both online and offline, yoga has allowed me to meet, collaborate with, and learn from so many incredible people. Next time you’re in yoga class, try striking up a conversation with yogis in class on the mats near you. After class, go up to the teacher and ask him or her some questions. These simple interactions are just the start to fostering strong, ongoing relationships in the vast yoga community.
6. Improved fitness
Regular yoga practice is a good way to improve your fitness. If you’re new to yoga, don’t let your fitness level prevent you from taking a good, hard look in the mirror and saying that you’ve gained 10 pounds in 3 months. Several medical studies have shown participants in a yoga program can lose up to 10 pounds or more over a 5-week period. To people who have tried yoga without any notable benefit or noticeable change to their weight, I recommend focusing on more of the strengthening and more fitness practices in yoga and also work on having a positive attitude towards your progress. After all, what’s the point of life if your body doesn’t follow your dreams? (If you have questions about losing weight, I’m here to answer them!)