Please welcome Megan Zsaa to the Whole Life Blog today! I’ve never thought of yoga as a “nothing exercise,” but all of you marathon runners and weekend warriors out there should give this article a read. Megan’s right!
My yogi friends–what benefits have you seen from your yoga practice?
Admit it, you once (or still do!) thought yoga is a bit of a ‘nothing exercise’; a chance for a load of people who have little energy or motivation to do anything else to feel better for heading to the gym. Well – you’ve guessed it – I’m going to tell you that you were wrong to think that! And you only need to get yourself along to a yoga class to fast realize it’s far from ‘wishy washy’, ‘easy’ – or worse still – ‘pretend’ exercise.
Yoga is hard, really hard. And there’s a reason the ancient Indian practice has been in existence for centuries – it’s because it works. I really have heard it all when it comes to people’s perceptions of yoga and I felt it was about time to take a stand. Here’s why it’s not quite as pointless an exercise as you might have first thought.
Yoga Really is ‘Ancient’
Let’s be honest, the word ‘ancient’ is overused. You might joke that your parents/grandparents/[insert other old relative] are ancient, but hey – they don’t come close to the real meaning of the word. The development of yoga can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago. Yep, 5,000 – you read that right. Some researchers believe it could be as old as 10,000 years. So you see, it’s been around a long time – and that alone must mean it offers more than a few benefits. If not, why else would people do it?
Improved Flexibility isn’t its Only Benefit
True, if you get yourself to enough yoga classes you’ll be able to bend and stretch like a pro. Touching your toes? No problem. Splits? In time, maybe. But did you know improved flexibility isn’t the only benefit of yoga?! The hobby can also help you burn calories, too. So if you’re thinking of kick-starting your fitness regime for 2016, you can enjoy all the stress-busting benefits of yoga and a smaller waistline – in time.
That said, yoga does burn a relatively small number of calories – but it will help improve everything from muscle tone and strength to balance and posture. Not bad at all, eh?
It Makes You Happy
And by happy I’m not just talking about that post-gym feeling of ‘I’ve done a workout so now I have a chocolate bar’. No, yoga actually makes you feel happy in general – it’s been proven! Reducing the stress hormone in your body, it brings about a general feeling of happiness and helps you zone out and relax whilst you’re in the class, too. Result!
It can Ward Off Illness
We bet you don’t need another excuse to sign up for yoga at this point – the fact it burns calories, keeps you fit and reduces stress must be enough, right? Wrong! But there’s another great benefit of yoga – and it’s that it can help prevent illness too. So not only will it ensure you feel good today, it can also stop you getting ill in the future.
If you’re someone who’s always got a cold, you’ll definitely want to try this quick move to help prevent you contracting one in the not-to-distant future.
Start by sitting sideways next to a wall, or the headboard of your bed. Now, simply lie down on one side, facing away from the wall but with your bottom touching it. Now, using your arms, just lift your legs up the wall as you roll over onto your back. Allow your arms to fall on either side of you, with your palms facing up. Finish by breathing for at least 10 breaths. Go on, give it a go – you know you want to.
By now I hope I’ve converted you to the art of the humble – but extremely beneficial – yoga class? And if I haven’t, can I suggest you keep reading up on the hobby; it really will become your new favourite workout if it isn’t already!
Megan Zsaa has been a student of yoga for three years and works with Samsara Mind and Body on their health and wellness programs. She lives in London and when she isn’t doing yoga you’ll find her preparing yummy, healthy food or making Kombucha.