The varying benefits of yoga
Guest blog – written by Dominique Sasha, Founder of Wandering Yogi.
Have you ever wondered why there are so many people practicing yoga these days? And have you wondered what’s behind that post-yoga glow? Well, it may come as no surprise that there are indeed a number of proven benefits to add a regular yoga practice to your busy lifestyle.
Over the past decade, yoga has been the fastest growing sport in the country, with over 2 million Australians rolling out their yoga mat in search of a healthy mind and active lifestyle. And despite being more popular than cricket, tennis or soccer, the benefits of a regular yoga practice are strangely less commonly known.
Often when considering the benefits to be gained from a sport, the physical benefits are seen as the solitary criteria. But sport isn’t just about physical gain, it’s also about mental wellbeing, positive social interactions and feeling like you’re part of a community.
So here are just a few reasons why over 2 million yogis are smiling from ear-to-ear:
1. Flexibility – This is the light bulb moment and often synonymous with the word “yoga”. When you can finally reach all the way down to your toes after months of practice. Or for the more advanced yogis, being able to touch your head with your feet in the scorpion position! Increased flexibility is one of the most noticeable signs that your regular yoga practice is reaping rewards.
2. Strengthening muscles and joints – Going to the gym and lifting weights relentlessly does build muscle, but it can also be very punishing on your body, causing stiff or tight muscles, especially if you don’t stretch properly. However, in a yoga practice, not only do you build strength in your legs, arms, core, neck, back (yep, pretty much everywhere!), you also get the added benefit of improved flexibility. Sign me up!
3. Improved digestion – When activating muscles you might not have even known you had, blood circulation is stimulated as your muscles tense to maintain balance and hold that yoga pose. And for those who like an early morning practice, there’s nothing better for your digestive system than setting that eye-wateringly early alarm!
4. Reduced stress – With such a strong focus on controlling your mind and breath, yoga is able to help soothe your nervous system, systematically reducing stress and anxiety. Whilst other sports may drive adrenaline levels through the roof, leaving a yoga studio in that sweaty-calm state is a great way to start or end any day of the week.
5. Better sleep – The physical exertion on your body twinned with the soothing effect on your mind is the perfect concoction for a dreamy and deep sleep. For those with busy schedules, or even if you just need your solid 8 hours every night, yoga could well be the solution to feeling alive and fresh every morning.
6. Increased confidence and happiness – As your body releases endorphins throughout the yoga practice, these chemicals interact with your brain to trigger positive feelings in your body. These positive vibes encourage feelings of self-worthiness and awareness, driving an uplifting feeling of gratitude and positive self-reflection.
The benefits of yoga don’t stop there. If you practice at a studio or as part of a community group you get the added benefit of being part of this amazing family of support and friendship! Whilst yoga is the commonality between yogis, it’s living the yoga lifestyle that offers the path to building long-lasting friendships with like-minded and happy yogis.
About the Author: Dominique is the founder of Wandering Yogi, Australia’s boutique yoga mat brand providing the highest quality non-slip and eco-friendly yoga mats.