In the last couple of months I’ve started adding a little fifteen minute yoga session into my routine most days, and I’ve been absolutely loving it. It started for a little laugh joining my parents on a 30 day yoga challenge through The Sufferfest (a cycling organisation) in February. To be completely honest, I was originally really cynical about the idea of doing yoga (I didn’t really see the point), so I was shocked to find myself feeling relaxed and rejuvenated after my daily yoga session. Plot twist: I actually enjoyed it and felt better for doing it.
So it probably won’t come as a surprise that the “30 day challenge” has turned into an ongoing routine as I’ve fallen more and more in love with yoga as a calming escape at the end of the day. I’d have never tried yoga were it not for this initial month-long challenge (thanks to Abi Carver of Yoga15 for the fab mini yoga sessions), so I thought I might as well share a little list of some of the amazing benefits of yoga in an attempt to encourage you to give it a go too…
Disclaimer: I’m by no means an expert in yoga and have no clue if I’m holding these poses in the correct form, so please take care and seek expert advice.
The slow and calming movements in yoga help you to remove yourself from the intensity of everyday life and are a great way to take time to clear your head and calm down.
Focuses the mind.
The present-oriented nature of yoga helps you stay more aware of the current moment and offers greater mental clarity which has been shown to correlate to improved concentration in other aspects of life too.
Stretching out your body in various yoga poses as well as giving your brain time out from worrying about other things in life reduced stress both mentally and physically, helping you to feel better in yourself overall.
The first time you try yoga it may be little discouraging as you struggle reach some of the moves that other, more experienced practitioners make look easy. All I’d say is give it time and you’ll see huge progress - I know my back bends and downward dogs have developed hugely since doing yoga.
Improves overall fitness.
This works in harmony with improved flexibility (something that you might actually lose in other strength-building activities) and actually has huge benefits to your overall athletic performance (which explains why the yoga challenge I started with was based around helping a cycling programme).
Boosts your mental health.
Scientific studies have suggested yoga practice increases serotonin levels (the hormone that makes you feel happy). The calming nature of yoga can make you more thoughtful and reduces the intensity of negative emotions too, replacing them with more positive and compassionate ones instead.
Focusing on taking long and slow deep breaths in yoga supposedly improves the efficiency of your lungs, as well as ensuring you take in clean air through your nose.
Carries many health benefits.
Stronger spine and bones, lower blood pressure, improved blood flow, easing of physical pain, stronger immune system… the list of apparent benefits goes on and on.
All of the slow and calming poses in yoga have been linked with better quality of sleep too, which also relates to the reduction in stress associated with regular yoga practice.
The list of benefits could go on for a lot longer but essentially: yoga is great, try it! I know I’ve felt so many positive effects and I’m hoping to further develop my newfound love of yoga by trying longer sessions or attending classes soon. Although I’m by no means a yoga expert I’d definitely recommend giving it a go. A little piece of advice from an ex-yoga-cynic: try to open your mind to the idea of yoga before you take part - it won’t work unless you give it the chance to!
I’d love to hear about your own experiences with yoga, and if you have any recommendations for good yoga classes or channels then just let me know in the comments. Any further tips on how to experiment more with yoga would be much appreciated too!