Why would I want to do that??? For those of you who have come to my yoga class, or any other yoga class for that matter, you probably have a handful of answers for this question. For those of you who have only seen or heard about this thing called yoga you might be asking yourself “Why on earth would I want to do that?”
Why would I want to workout? For most of us, we stick to our routines and continue to come to the gym to workout, or we hop on our bicycles, or take the dogs out for a stroll around the neighborhood – even when we’d much rather go home and sit on the couch (and, I’ll say it, have that much deserved glass or three of wine!) for very obvious reasons. We want to feel better, to look better, to be healthier. We want to feel capable when life throws us challenges, we want to have the energy to do the things we love (and to keep up with the kids and grandkids!), and we want to be able to take care of ourselves as we age. And so we workout. We train for all of these things and more.
But yoga? Why would I want to do that? Although the benefits of yoga are so numerous that there are whole books dedicated to explaining the whys and hows, I will just touch on a few things here.
Yes, yoga will help you feel better, look better, and be healthier like most other forms of working out. But the regular practice of yoga offers many other health benefits, both physical and mental. Of course, those who practice yoga benefit from its most well known side effect of increased flexibility and adaptability, as well as improved muscle strength and tone. This leads to better posture and body awareness and improved balance and coordination. Yoga can even improve cardiovascular endurance – depending on the type of yoga you are doing.
The physical benefits of yoga even spread to the internal body. Did you know that yoga postures have traditionally been used as a form of medicine to cure various ailments? There is no way to dive deep into that fascinating subject now (maybe another blog post?) but, as an example, twists are a great remedy for many digestive issues. Yoga helps to keep the internal organs and systems of the body healthy and through the practice of the postures as well as the many breathing techniques that are often taught in yoga classes, yoga students experience improved respiration, lowered blood pressure, and slower heart rates, to name a few things.
The continued practice of yoga also provides a host of mental benefits such as reduced stress, improved memory and concentration, and an overall sense of wellbeing and relaxation. Similarly to the physical side of things, many postures can be practiced for specific purposes such as forward bends to lessen anxiety or backbends to uplift and improve mood, thereby decreasing the feelings of fatigue or depression. Various types of yoga, especially Restorative yoga, have even been studied and proven effective in reducing symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
So, as I said, I am only scratching the surface here. But I hope I have shed some light into the reason why you have probably heard of “Downward Dog” and given you a few answers to the question, “Why would I want to do that?” Yoga is for every body. Try a class. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you. Namaste.
“Today more than ever, it’s crucial that we include practices in our daily lives that promote health and spiritual growth. The state of the environment, the stresses created by the world’s ever-increasing population’s demand on dwindling resources, and political unrest are signposts of the critical state we face. If we want a world worth living in, and worth leaving to future generations, we need to take responsibility by creating well-being in our lives and by supporting others as they choose healthier lives. In other words, to transform the world, we first have to transform ourselves.”
-Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D., P.T.
– Coach Emily