This year, I started taking certain aspects of my workouts more seriously. One of those things was stretching and my flexibility. Enter Yoga. If I’m being honest, I’ve always hated yoga. I thought it was boring. I’m a kick-boxing, high-impact workout kind of girl and I didn’t feel like it would challenge me. Was I wrong! I started going to a class called Warrior Sculpt regularly which fuses hot yoga with cardio and weights. It’s a beast of a class, but I have seen a lot of progress. I then added another hot yoga class to my weekly workouts and I’ve even found myself hopping on my mat at home, too. I’m pretty sure I started off looking like a drunk giraffe, but now I’m stronger (check my chataranga) and waaaay more flexible. Most importantly, I feel good from the inside out.
I’ve truly grown to love yoga. The ancient practice is great for everyone in general, but especially for women. For starters, yoga incorporates breathing exercises. meditation, and stretches designed to encourage relaxation and reduce stress. I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t need all of that??? Yoga has the unique ability to increase mind-body awareness, promote physical movement, and cultivate acceptance of one’s internal experience of emotions, thoughts, and sensations. Here are just a few of the many benefits of practicing yoga.
- REDUCES STRESS – Yoga has scientifically been shown to reduce cortisol levels, which are elevated with stress, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Essentially, yoga makes you happier by activating neurotransmitters and producing endorphins.
- PROMOTES BETTER BREATHING – A part of the focus of yoga is controlling the breath through breathing exercises and techniques while maintaining the stretches and poses. Improving breathing can help build endurance, optimize performance, and keep your lungs and heart healthy.
- IMPROVES FLEXIBILITY & BALANCE – In yoga, most of the poses use body weight to improve balance and mobility. Just 15-30 minutes of yoga per day can increase flexibility, improve posture, ease muscle tension, and increase endurance & strength.
- IMPROVES HEART HEALTH – Yoga not only helps to decrease heart rates and blood pressure, it can also help lower total cholesterol. Practicing yoga promotes healthy circulation, which is also very good for the heart.
- DECREASES PAIN & INFLAMMATION – The stretching can temporarily relieve stiff joints as well as improve flexibility and circulation. Yoga is the perfect complimentary therapy for musculoskeletal disorders like fibromyalgia and arthritis.
- FEMALE REPRODUCTIVE PROBLEMS – Some postures can reduce pressure on the uterus, relieve cramps, and the gentle stretching can ease stiffness and tension in the lower back that is present during that time of the month.
- OTHER BENEFITS – improved sleep quality; boosts immune system; improves digestion; makes skin more radiant; sharpens memory; improves sex life (YEP!); boosts metabolism; increases energy; prevents migraines.
Yoga doesn’t require any special equipment or clothes, however, an inexpensive yoga mat may help provide cushion and grip. I’m more of a group exercise person, so the classes offered at my gym work great for me. Not a gym person? You can get started on your own at home. Check out THIS 15 min BEGINNER’S VIDEO to help get you started. There are also many fitness and yoga studios that offer a variety of classes.
According to Q, yoga can make you more aware of your own body and more conscious of its strengths, weaknesses, and needs. Doesn’t matter what size you are either. Yoga is hard at first. Don’t let anyone tell you different. But as with anything, you get better, and in this case, more flexible with time. So, with its multiple health benefits, why wouldn’t you want to add yoga to your daily or weekly regimen???
Cheers to all of the yogis out there!! New and seasoned.