Yoga is a collection of physical and mental disciplines, practices and methods that originated in ancient India. The word yoga has many meanings, including "union" or "harmony," but it also means "to yoke." In the physical sense, this refers to the practice of uniting the mind with the body.
Yoga is a form of exercise that focuses on stretching and breathing techniques to relax your muscles. According to the National Institute of Health, practicing yoga for just 20 minutes three times per week can improve your health and well-being by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol levels, depression and anxiety levels. It is a practice that can be done by anyone, at any age and at any fitness level. The benefits of yoga are endless.
Here are just a few reasons why I love doing yoga and some resources to get you started on your journey.
Yoga has made me stronger and more flexible
Yoga helps build strength in all muscles of your body and can help you lose weight by increasing your heart rate during workouts so that you burn more calories throughout the day. I was stiff as a rock when I started practicing yoga about 2 years ago but with consistency I’m a lot stronger and more flexible than I was before.
Yoga helps me sleep better
I struggled with getting a good night's sleep for many years and often found myself relying on sleeping pills - which stopped being effective after a while. Practicing yoga consistently before bedtime has helped me get in the right mindset and prepared my body to fall asleep and stay asleep. Because focus is on my breathing when doing yoga, my mind is calm and my body is relaxed.
Yoga has improved my mood
When I’m in a “meh” mood, I always turn to yoga and meditation. Getting on my mat and doing a camel pose (ustrasana), warrior 2 (virabhadrasana dvi) or reclined spinal twist (supta matsyendrasana) makes me feel less anxious and more confident, thereby improving my mood.
I’m more intentional about how I care for my body
Resources to get you started with yoga
Looking for some resources on how to start practicing yoga? First things first, you’d need a good yoga mat, some props like blocks, towels and belts and something to enhance the atmosphere, like a sage and lavender scented candle.
Learn more about yoga. Visit your local library to read books, read blogs, watch videos and follow some experienced yogis on social media. The amazing thing about yoga is that there isn’t a specific way a yogi is supposed to look because yoga is for everyBODY. It’s a more welcoming community, especially if you’re very conscious about your physical appearance.
Next, decide if you want to take classes or practice at home. If you prefer being with people and having that community to help guide you, look up local yoga studios in your area and sign up for a few classes a week. Not a fan of working out with people? That’s okay too - get your mat and props ready, turn on your device and go on Youtube.
A few of my favourite Youtubers:
Do you practice yoga? Share a few of your favourite resources in a comment. Let’s keep the conversation going.