How Can Yoga Change Your Body?
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Yoga is an ancient practice that blends the physical asana — the poses — with breath, which creates a meditative state and mindful movement. While many people come to yoga for the workout, the practice is so much more than handstands and splits. It’s mental clarity, an uplift in your mood and less stress on a daily basis.
When people think about how a physical practice of any kind changes their body, their mind may first go to flat tummies, toned thighs and tiny waists. While yoga can provide you with those things, the physical benefits of the practice go far beyond the aesthetic. Many of the more dramatic physical changes that yoga can bring are the kind you feel more than see.
While many yogis come for the sweat and the challenge, they stay for so much more. Yoga can impact your whole life, from the inside out.
Yoga teachers hear, “I’d love to do yoga, but I’m not flexible enough” on a near-daily basis. Yet that sentiment is totally backward, because yoga makes you more flexible. Yoga isn’t just the crazy poses on Instagram — plenty of yogis can’t even touch their toes.
Everyone’s journey is different. Some people will access their ability to put their leg behind their head through yoga, while some will simply learn to touch their toes. Increased flexibility can make your body feel nimble and free.
Especially when it comes to higher intensity classes, yoga requires strength and helps you build it. Yoga classes are often well rounded in that they target the body evenly. Therefore, your whole body is building strength rather than specific muscles.
Almost everything in yoga ties back to your core, and having a strong core is the foundation you need to stabilize and build additional strength. Increasing your strength can make you feel more capable and help you throughout your days. There’s nothing more amazing than the feeling of lifting heavy things and moving through life with ease and might.
3. Deeper Breathing
Doing yoga encourages you to breathe deeper and with more intention. Throughout the poses and as you relax into savasana, you tend to fill your lungs and release more throughout a yoga practice. While you may not realize it right away, these habits and exercises follow you throughout your life.
Soon, you’ll be breathing deeper as you relax into bed each night and perform strenuous tasks — a sort of muscle memory repetition. You can relax and stay calm no matter where you are.
It’s no secret that holding poses and repeating precise movements can improve your physical sense of balance. Similar to flexibility, you can build balance over time through repetition and practice. It can make you feel more capable and nimble.
In addition to physical balance, yoga can help you on a cellular level. Doing yoga can balance your organs within your body, as movement creates a hydraulic effect that hydrates the body’s tissues. The result is improved overall health.
Yoga can facilitate relaxation in so many ways throughout the body. First, it’s a workout that involves balanced movements and a built in warm-up and cool-down to facilitate muscle care and repair. Specifically, savasana — the final relaxation pose at the end — gives your body a chance to rest and rejuvenate before slowly returning to regular movement.
On the mental side, yoga can leave you feeling calm and relaxed, even having long term effects on your mental health. Studies show that doing yoga can reduce levels of anxiety and depression. In the short- and long-term, yoga can help you lead a more calm and serene existence.
Feel Your Zen
While yoga can serve as a wonderful, fulfilling workout, it’s also so much beyond that. Yoga creates real changes in your mind and body that can improve your quality of life.
Sure, you might end up with especially toned legs or totally ripped biceps, but you’ll also walk through life with an extra sense of comfort in your own skin and a serious pep in your step.