Considering taking up yoga? I’d love to share my story with you. My love affair with yoga is one that spans over a decade. And no, I’m no pro, nor am I an expert at any fancy poses; my point is, it took me a looong time to truly fall in love with the practise.
I was about 15 when my parents first dragged me into a yoga class — and at the crack of dawn at that. When trying the downward-facing dog for the first time, I wondered how in hell it could possibly be a resting pose; my legs were shaking and my feet could barely touch the ground! Later on, when trying out a balancing pose, I literally tumbled and knocked into the person in front of me. The list of failures and embarrassing moments goes on, really.
Years later, I’ve learned how to spread out my weight when working balancing poses; and that damned downward dog I used to despise? It no longer gets me achy and shaking like it used to (in fact, I actually look forward to it). There are also tons of poses I’ve yet to master — and the fact that the list never ends is something I like, and not something that upsets me.
Basically, what I’m trying to get across is this: As someone who developed a slow-burning type of love for yoga, I believe it’s worth all the time and effort you put into it. And if this isn’t enough to convince you to try it out, then keep on reading. Here are just a few reasons you should take up yoga!
10 Reasons you should take up yoga
1. With yoga, there are always options
Knees hurt? Place a towel or blanket under your knees! Can’t touch the floor? Try using a yoga block to lift the floor up to you! Can’t touch your toes? Don’t sweat it — stopping at your shins or your knees works, too! The great thing about yoga is that there are always going to be options to help make the practise work for you.
If you’re still starting out, there are loads of beginner classes that allow you to learn the foundations of yoga. You can even choose between practising by yourself, one-on-one with an instructor, or with a class. And if you’re ready to take things to the next level? You can try out different types of yoga, from Vinyasa (flow yoga), to Yin (slow-paced yoga), to Bikram (hot yoga), and more. Basically, with yoga, you do you.
2. It’s been known to help cope with stress
And during times like these, isn’t a good way to destress such a need?
Because yoga poses require full concentration, yoga reminds us to live in the present moment. As for our thoughts, worries, and anxieties — we acknowledge them, then leave them behind. After all, do you really have enough space in your mind to stress out and hold a balancing pose? (We recommend not trying this at home!)
When done right, yoga will also help us relax our muscles and slow down our breathing — just a few things that will allow us to better deal with stress. It’s a great mood booster, too! Because of these things, yoga has been recognised for its mental health benefits; it’s even been known to help people manage with their anxiety and depression.
3. Yoga can help you deal with body pain
Of course, it can also cause more body pain if you pressure yourself to move too quickly.
Take things at your own pace, and you’ll find that yoga can help relieve chronic aches and pains in spots like your neck, back, and shoulders. (If you can relate, then this may even be enough to convince you to take up yoga!) In particular, a few people in my life who deal with slipped discs actually recommend yoga as the most effective way to ease their pain — yes, even more than those expensive rehab sessions!
4. It can help you lose weight and get toned
Looking for a good workout to help whip you into shape? Yoga is a great form of exercise, and consistently practising will certainly help you reach your fitness goals! If it’s weight loss you’re after, you’re in luck: yoga is known to boost the metabolism and aid in digestion. This makes it a good way to naturally detoxify the body.
On the other hand, if your end goal is to get stronger, more toned, and even more flexible, this is definitely possible, too. Yoga will allow you to strengthen your core, your arms, your legs — it’s a full-body workout, that’s for sure, and you’ll want to stick around to see results.
Basically, by regularly (and properly!) practising yoga, you can improve your overall fitness. Other health-related benefits include strengthening your bones, muscles, and joints!
5. There are loads of free resources available online
Because of this, it’s been so easy for a lot of people to try and take up yoga in the middle of the pandemic. From the basics to step-by-step guides for popular poses (take the crow pose, headstand, and forearm stand, for example), the web is brimming with resources you can take advantage of for no cost at all.
Personally, I recommend my favourite yoga channel on YouTube, Yoga with Adriene. The Austin, Texas-based instructor has been sharing free videos online since 2012, and she has yoga practises for just about everything. Yoga for back pain, yoga for anxiety, yoga for acid reflux… the list goes on! She even has 30-day playlists for those who’d like to practise something different every day.
6. Yoga helps you improve your posture
Guilty of slouching or having your back hunched over for most of the work day? (Same here.) This is another good reason to take up yoga!
Through the practise, we’re reminded to keep our spines aligned. Yoga instructor Adriene Mischler (the yoga instructor behind Yoga with Adriene) makes it easy to visualise: she reminds us to keep “head over heart, heart over pelvis.” Pretty awesome, right?
7. It allows you to pay closer attention to your body
Another good reason to take up yoga: it allows you to get to know your body better. You not only notice the aches and pains lying just under the surface, you also realise what and how much your body is capable of.
Given this, getting better acquainted with your body lets you know if you need to have anything checked out, and which areas could use some strengthening. Along the way, this’ll also help you notice the improvements you make as you continue practising!
To paint you a clearer picture: When I first started doing yoga, I struggled hard with the downward-facing dog position. My wrists were so weak, and I would practically count the seconds until I could release the pose. As I continued my practise, I learned to spread my weight out towards my finger tips in order to alleviate the pressure on my wrists (although, this isn’t quite as simple or easy as it sounds). It took years of work, but the pose eventually grew easier for me; once I noticed my wrists stopped hurting, I felt fulfilled knowing that I was seeing improvements in my strength throughout my yoga journey!
8. Yoga reminds us to honour our bodies
Hate the way your stomach folds into layers when you’re seated on the ground? Frustrated with how inflexible you are? Leave those troubles behind, because when it comes to yoga, those things don’t matter. Yoga is meant to help honour your body, not dissect every bit of what you perceive is wrong about it.
Like I said earlier, you do you — your practise is yours and yours alone. Quit comparing yourself to others. Once you get the hang of this mindset on the mat, you will hopefully be able to apply it in other aspects of your life, too.
9. It can help improve sleep quality
After dealing with a bad bout of sleep paralysis, I had trouble getting a good night’s sleep for the good part of a year. I asked friends and family for their best recommendations, and practising yoga was one of their top tips! Little did I know that yoga’s been known to help with insomnia, too.
Ending the day with a simple yoga practise can truly work wonders! As we allow our minds and bodies to slow down and relax through yoga, this helps us get in the right mindset in time for bed.
10. Yoga is for everyone
When it comes to yoga, I usually hear two very different types of opinions about the practise. It’s always either “Yoga? Isn’t that just stretching?” or “You have to be flexible to do yoga!” FYI, neither of those are true.
Yoga isn’t for a select few. What actually makes it so attractive is that it’s for anyone and everyone, whether you’re the most flexible person in the room or you’re incapable of touching your toes.
When trying something new, we all start with little to no knowledge about the subject — and that’s not a bad thing at all. When I first decided to take up yoga, I knew zero things about exercising! What I’ll always remember is that our teacher and my classmates didn’t judge me for it at all. The yoga community is one filled with support and encouragement; of all the reasons to take up yoga, I think this is the one that matters most!
This is not by any means our way of forcing you to take up yoga. It’s the total opposite, in fact; we hope that should any of your needs fall in line with what the practise can offer you, you’ll know that it’s something you’ll always be able to turn to, no matter what point you are in life. Namaste! Or, in English — the divine in me bows to the divine in you.