Yoga: The Benefits and What You Might Just Get Out Of Beginning Your Own Practice
I love when people ask me “well Kate, what’s so great about yoga?” My face lights up and I swear butterflies flutter in my stomach as I explain just a few of the wonderful benefits about developing a yoga practice. I’d like to share with you why and how I found yoga and further discuss some of the benefits.
Before we talk about the benefits of yoga I need to share with you just a few of the many different styles of yoga. I for one practice and teach a “Power/Hot Yoga” style. Well, what is that? Power yoga has its roots in Ashtanga yoga. Power yoga is a vigorous practice focusing on a vinyasa style flow which combines strengthening with stretching. There are no set poses in class. Rather, I design my classes around themes, such as heart opening, hips, backbends, arm balances or twists. No two classes are identical. Most Power/Vinyasa classes are taught in heated rooms (anywhere from 75-95 degrees). The use of a heated room is to promote detoxification within the body as well as help build internal heat to help students get deeper into poses.
Beyond Power/Vinyasa/Hot yoga, there’s Bikram, which is also taught in a heated room, anywhere from 102-108 degrees. Bikram is a consistent practice, the same 26 poses are learned over time with zero variation. Gentle yoga is very popular to people who want to experience light stretching with a deeper mediation practice. There’s also restorative yoga, which in my opinion is one level above taking a nap. Your body is so completely relaxed, at times you can’t help but fall asleep. Additionally Yin yoga has gained popularity. Yin focuses on lengthening and contracting muscles. Yin Yoga uses long, passive holds to target and heal the connective tissues (anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes). The holds are challenging, but the benefits are amazing – regulated energy, lower stress, improved health…but I’m getting ahead of myself here.
In my experience there is a perfect yoga style match for everyone. And I encourage people to try different styles and even different teachers to see what kind of yoga truly resonates with them.
Moving on, I want to dive a little deeper into the benefits of yoga. Whether you find the time to join a class once a week, or you’re a seven-day-a-week yogi like myself, you’re practicing because you enjoy it and you’re getting something out of the class. For me, I joined a yoga studio because I heard amazing stories about people losing weight, developing an incredible core, and gaining strength while working on their flexibility. Guess what, I’m living proof that all three of those benefits are true. Since I joined my yoga studio nearly two and a half years ago, I’ve lost approximately 30 pounds, I’m THE strongest I’ve ever been in my life and most people think my core alone is ridiculous (however I’m still a work in progress). Yoga can develop your core strength over time as well as help those who want to manage their weight.
I find that the increased flexibility is incredible, but you’d probably already guess that. Yes you’re stretching in yoga, but imagine over time while practicing splits pose three times a week for a year, eventually you’re going to come down into splits easily and it’s going to feel great. Flexibility can be developed and enhanced over time. Most athletes find introducing a yoga practice into their workout regiment a plus because they can work on their perceived poor flexibility. But to be honest, athlete or not, most people wish their bodies were more flexible.
Yoga can aid in stress reduction and mood improvements. The positive environment you’re in, along with specific breathing techniques you learn in class can be used in real life frustrating moments. Many people express that with the introduction of yoga in their lives they’ve experienced a better nights sleep along with consistent energy throughout the day. I’ve found that yoga has helped me with my posture and lower back issues since I was a younger kid. In addition, yoga will challenge your mind/body connection and can enhance your balance and control over your body.
Whether you’re curious about yoga and it’s benefits or if it’s right for you, there’s only one way to find out. Check out a local studio or class at a gym. I recommend beginners to experience a class hands on. YouTube and DVDs are a great supplement when you’re unable to get to class, but there’s nothing like having the visual instructions from a teacher and the energy of a classroom to get the full effects of a yoga experience.
Feel free to contact me with any and all of your yoga questions.
Get your #YogaSwag on