When I started practicing yoga, the only reason for me was to become more flexible and just burn some calories, and maybe also follow some doctors’ advice (I have scoliosis and always sooo much back pain all the time, and yoga helps they say). Okay well, they were right, my back pain really got so much better. But not only that. What yoga did to me was so much more, it literally changed my whole life. Here is what I experienced after starting to practice yoga regularly:
1. Yoga helps you chill
By now, this is probably the most popular fact about yoga, but I can tell you it really is true. I started to feel much more at ease with myself and I was also suddenly able to sit still and meditate. Before that, I could hardly sit for two minutes with closed eyes. It nearly freaked me out to focus on my breath and not do anything. (Also, my back would start to hurt). Now, none of that is a problem anymore. So what happens inside the body when doing yoga? There are various things that lead to stress relieve, and they’re scientifically proven. Overall it can be said that yoga decreases the hormones that stress us (like cortisol), increases the hormones that relax us, and regulates the ones that make us feel like we’re being rewarded. To feel these effects every day I found that you don’t necessarily have to attend a super long class, but just lying on your mat for 5 to 15 minutes in a restorative pose like lying on your back and putting your legs up against the wall while breathing deeply already creates a super good feeling of relaxation. What also happened was that my sleep noticeably improved, I don’t know if that is only because of the yoga though. It could also be because I stopped drinking coffee when I learned from the book “Why we sleep” by Matthew Walker that coffee stays in our system for about 12 hours, which is why we should only drink it until 9am, and then I just stopped drinking it completely. However, yoga is said to have positive impacts on the quality of sleep as well.
2. Yoga motivates you
After having practiced yoga for a while, I started to become aware of what my body is actually capable of. Things that prior I never thought I would be able to do (headstand?? noooo way), suddenly became easy and normal. Especially when I started to see the progresses my body made, it led me to realize how impactful regular practice is and how much we are in control over our own body, not only what it looks like, but also how it moves and what it feels like. This feeling of motivation and responsibility started to transfer onto other areas of my life, where I became much more disciplined, for example with eating healthy and meditating regularly. And in fact, yoga helps you to make better decisions and be more mindful about everything you do off the mat as well. That is because yoga is capable of changing deeply engraved thinking and behavioral patterns in our brain (called Samskars). To some this might sound airy fairy, but again there is science backing this up. The brain’s ability to change is called neuroplasticity, and when practicing yoga, the mind and body are essentially rewiring and patterns are being changed.
3. Yoga increases self-love and confidence
A regular yoga practice also really helped me to become much more self confident and feel beautiful in my body. It enabled me to shift from negative thinking patterns about the parts I didn’t like about my body to become aware of how grateful I can be for the body I have, helping me to improve the relationship with it immensely. I strongly believe that this is the reason why yoga is also proven to help with healing eating disorders, as you start to build much more self-love and gratitude for your body and develop great confidence and just in general a good body feeling.
4. Yoga heals the body
Not only does yoga straighten and strengthen the spine muscles as well as the abdominals, it also brings you into balance and alignment due to this conscious shift of awareness into your body. Bye bye back pain and hello healthy spine! Furthermore, all the shoulder-openings and back-bendings during a yoga class lead to a strongly improved posture with long-term benefits. The physical practice of yoga is so incredibly intelligent, every posture has a purpose and is exactly tuned to the body’s inner functions.
5. Yoga makes you happy
There is scientific evidence that yoga helps with improving mood and emotional regulation, which also happens after attending just a single class! And now just think about how all these benefits come along with a strong, fit, and flexible body!! In contrast to typical forms of exercise, yoga has unique positive effects on your body and your mind, which makes it such an extremely powerful and life changing practice.
And that’s why I love to share my practice and get as many people as possible to practice yoga, too! If you want to get to know more about yoga and health, tune in to my podcast! You can find it on Spotify, Apple podcast, and all other podcast platforms!