The 10 Most Underrated Benefits of Yoga
What comes to mind when you think of the benefits of yoga? How do you define this spiritual practice?
As a yoga instructor, I often describe yoga as an inward pursuit of aligning the body, mind and spirit – connecting with your inner being and surrendering to the moment. I also note the health and wellness benefits of yoga and how valuable it is to practice yoga daily.
There are times however, when I’m teaching and everyone becomes . . . way too serious. I often remind my students that it’s okay to smile, laugh and sing out loud – yoga is also about joy.
You may have heard these same qualities of yoga described by your yoga teacher or friends, but there are other benefits of yoga that aren’t often discussed . . .
Here are the top 10 underrated benefits of practicing yoga:
Is yoga really anti-aging? Yes! A consistent yoga practice keeps the circulatory, endocrine, digestive and lymphatic systems healthy and functioning properly. Just a few minutes of yoga a day will enhance your overall wellness. You will attain a natural glow on the outside and see your body transform on the inside.
Another anti-aging benefit of yoga is stress reduction. Stress can cause an influx of harmful symptoms to our body and emotional health. Yoga helps to restore the parasympathetic system when the body goes into stress mode by slowing down our heart rate.
If you’re feeling stressed, check out 10 Yoga Poses Proven to Reduce Stress to help keep you feeling and looking youthful and healthy.
The most important relationship students – and everyone – can have is with themselves. You are absolutely worth the extra time and effort it may take to feed your soul and be happy. Never forget you are a gift just by being you.
Your time on your yoga mat is your opportunity to connect and learn to love yourself. Taking the time out of your day to attend a yoga class is a wonderful way to value your spirit, focus on your own needs and take care of yourself. This is a big part of practicing self-love.
Looking for ways to practice self-love beyond your yoga mat? Check out Start Practicing Self-Love Now! Here’s How . . .
3. Pain Tolerance
Are you among the many who have experienced pain in your back, shoulders or neck? Constant pain in your body can have a huge impact on your mindset and quality of life.
I experienced a nerve impingement in my low back that was quite painful. Yoga not only helped ease my physical pain, but also taught me how to connect with and learn from the pain.
Yoga teaches you to move gently and lovingly to keep your body safe. Yoga also helps you understand the pain is there to serve you in a greater way – possibly as a guide to help you break down emotional grievances you are facing.
Do you suffer from back pain, sciatica, headaches or insomnia? Check out Practice These Yoga Poses to Relieve Common Ailments.
4. Better Sleep
Having trouble sleeping? Yoga can help with that!
If you practice restorative yoga close to bedtime, you will help calm the nervous system and prepare the mind and body for sleep. Forward folds and resting yoga poses like Legs Up the Wall are great for promoting better sleep.
An energizing yoga practice such as vinyasa or Ashtanga Yoga can also help you sleep better at night. Having a consistent yoga practice will also help your body remain free of aches and pains that can cause sleeplessness.
If you’re looking for a great yoga sequence to practice before bed, practice this free Simple Bedtime Yoga Sequence for Restful Sleep.
Mindfulness is being present and paying attention to your daily activities. For example, we can practice mindfulness while we are walking just by listening to nature and feeling the wind on our face, or being mindful while eating by focusing on the texture and taste of our food.
Yoga also provides a wonderful opportunity to practice mindfulness. With each transition and yoga pose we practice, we are essentially unaware of anything else at that given moment. We are completely absorbed in the practice of breath and the connection to our body. Yoga allows us to be mindful of what is going on in our mind and soul.
If you want to begin practicing mindfulness on and off the mat, check out DIY 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge.
Yoga is life changing, and some of us may have already experienced the shift in our thoughts and desires. What yoga also gives us is a sense of purpose – the desire to be the best version of ourselves and to make a difference in the world.
Yoga opens our eyes to many things, like the world around us and the connection we have to each individual being. Yoga gives us the opportunity to take this newly discovered purpose for our lives, do amazing things, and help make the world a better place.
For more tips on finding your purpose, check out How to Listen to Your Dharma and Find Your True Purpose.
7. Intuition and Synchronicity
Our bodies hold seven energy centers called chakras that run from the base of our spine to the top of our head. Practicing yoga helps the chakra energy flow with ease and allows us to clear any blockages in our body. Opening this energy flow allows you to feel subtle changes or shifts in your life.
Yoga can make your intuitive voice become more clear and prominent, allowing you to see life in a new way. You’ll be better able to recognize synchronicities as you become more connected to yourself and others. This is why yoga is a gift to your soul as much as it is to your mind and body.
8. Community and Relationships
Everyone who practices yoga has a story to share and wisdom to be heard. We all congregate as a community with no judgment, ego or competition and love every individual for being who they are. Yoga classes are where friendships are made and mentors are found. Yoga is a wonderful opportunity to meet new and like-minded individuals who share your keen interest in yoga and a positive lifestyle.
Yoga is a community that thrives on love and acceptance.
9. Compassion and an Open Heart
Placing your hands in prayer near your heart emotes feelings of oneness and connection during your yoga practice. Heart-centered yoga comes from your soul, where gratitude and compassion can be felt on an intense level.
Your heart literally expands during yoga, and a vibration of love is felt instantaneously. The heart is one of the strongest organs in our body, and when you practice yoga, you share your light and love with the world and open yourself up to give and receive love more freely.
Yoga helps open your heart so you can give and receive love more freely
Check out The Heart Chakra: How it Impacts Your Ability to Love and Be Loved.
Yoga helps open your heart so you can give and receive love more freely
10. Inspiration and Motivation
There are many opportunities to find inspiration from yoga. Finding inspiration to live better, help others and be a better person are bonus byproducts of practicing yoga.
If you’re a yoga teacher, you become motivated to inspire your students to find their inner strength and reach their full potential. Below is one of my favorite inspirational quotes:
“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” -Dalai Lama
Check out 5 Inspirational Quotes to Apply to Your Yoga Practice for more great quotes.
These underrated benefits of practicing yoga are just as important as the more commonly recognized physical and mental benefits. Yoga can change your entire outlook on life and open your mind to new possibilities. To think of yoga as purely a means to staying physically fit is just the tip of the iceberg.
Have you experienced any of these underrated benefits while practicing yoga? Do you think yoga can completely change your life? We would love to hear from you, so please leave your feedback in the comments below.
The hustle and bustle of everyday life can leave us feeling exhausted and sometimes anxious. It’s normal to experience occasional anxiety, but sometimes it seems to take on a life of its own, consuming you over trivial matters.
It starts as a nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach, and left unchecked, can turn into physical problems such as hair loss, skin rashes, and insomnia. If you find yourself constantly worrying and fretting, yoga can help you cope.
Yoga can help you cope
Studies have shown that the practice of yoga is an effective way to combat anxiety. When your hear the “practice” of yoga, it’s more than just the physical poses (which do help a lot on their own). In this sense, yoga is also referring to the conscious breathing and mindfulness techniques.
The potent combination of yoga poses, breathing techniques (pranayama), and mindfulness meditation helps to reduce the tension and symptoms associated with anxiety.
In this article, we will explore ways to incorporate physical yoga poses, breathing, and meditation to reduce stress and anxiety.
Reduce Anxiety with Yoga Poses
There are many yoga disciplines, and all incorporate a variety of physical poses that will leave you feeling calmer. Certain poses in particular focus on grounding and stilling the mind.
Try the below poses all together as a flow practice, or use your favorites when you just can’t seem to shake that jittery feeling of nervous energy.
Standing Forward Fold: A forward fold is a good way to loosen up, relax your upper body, and reverse the blood flow. Increased circulation to the brain releases endorphins, feel-good chemicals that reduce anxiety. Let your body relax as you hinge from the waist and sway ragdoll or grab onto your ankles for a deeper stretch. As you exhale, focus on letting go of your stress.
Tree Pose: This is a good beginner pose for those new to balancing. Tree pose requires a calm mind in order to maintain balance. Remember, trees sway, so let your body sway if it needs to. Focus on your body awareness and ground yourself to the earth. For more of a challenge (a great way to calm and center the mind), try this pose with your eyes closed.
Eagle Pose: This pose is about creating balance in the body as you work one side and then the other. Eagle pose requires the mind’s full attention and helps us let go of negative thoughts and energy. It’s a great detoxifying pose so you can move things through and out of you. Try holding this standing pose for 30-60 seconds on each side.
Half Moon Pose: Another more challenging balance posture is the Half Moon. It brings a stillness and focus to the mind as you work to remain balanced. Half Moon is a pose that activates earth and air energy, so you feel grounded and strong but also light.
Child’s Pose: Recovery poses like Child’s can be taken throughout your yoga practice. This pose is all about relaxation as you rest comfortably with your limbs loose and your forehead on the mat. It’s a calming and centering pose that’s also gently restorative for your lower back, a place where we hold a lot of tension.
Supported Shoulder stand: Many inversions help with anxiety, as they refresh the blood throughout your body. Shoulder stand is an inversion that’s accessible even to beginners because of the support it provides. As you breathe, imagine your problems and anxiety flowing out of you. With each inhale, bring in positive cleansing energy.
Headstand: Headstands are a more advanced inversion that requires focus and concentration. Your mind must remain in the present moment to maintain balance. Headstand is often referred to as the “King of Asanas” for its immense benefits, and at the top of that list is – you guessed it – relieving anxiety.
Fish Pose: A complimentary pose to inversions is Fish pose. This is a great pose to reduce the tension that many people carry in their back and shoulders, two places that get physically tight as a result of mental stress and fatigue. This pose reverses these negative effects and leaves you feeling more open and nourished.
Legs Up the Wall: Legs Up the Wall is a simple pose typically used at the end of practice. It is believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system, which is why it’s a favorite for stress and anxiety relief. If you find your mind wandering during this pose, have a partner stack a bolster or books on your flexed feet. Having to balance the weight will keep you focused on the present.
Corpse Pose: Savasana is done at the end of your practice or anytime you need to take a break to de-stress. There is nothing active in this pose – simply relax and breathe, concentrating on deep inhalations and exhalations.