Over the last 5-10 years, yoga has become an increasingly popular form of exercise.
Chic studios and online programs have been popping up in droves, and yoga classes have become staples at larger, chain gyms.
But the practice of yoga, mainly the practice as part of a set of spiritual beliefs, has been around for thousands of years.
Yoga’s endurance, and its journey into mainstream fitness, speaks to all of its benefits and advantages. Whether you’re a seasoned yogi, or brand new to this form of exercise, I think there is a ton to be gained by adding it to your daily workout routine.
Here are three of its best attributes.
1. A stronger, more flexible body
Somewhere along the way, yoga has gotten a reputation as an “easy” form of exercise. While some classes and levels of yoga can be easy and are great for beginners or those rehabbing from an injury, yoga itself is physically challenging.
Bikram yoga, commonly referred to as hot yoga, is done in a 104-degree room, and the upper levels of Ashtanga and Power yoga require some mind-blowingly difficult poses and repetitions. Yoga is a fully body workout.
It builds strength, increases flexibility, tones major and minor muscle groups, and boosts heart rates like a cardio workouts, but without the pounding on and pulling of joints of other similar workouts, resulting in a stronger, leaner, and more flexible body.
2. A spiritual booster
While yoga was originally developed as part of certain religious beliefs, it has lost those connotations in the main stream.
But yoga still provides a great opportunity to connect spiritually. No matter what religion or spiritual leaning you claim for yourself, yoga provides several opportunities to practice it.
With the packed and hectic schedules many of us face every day, it can be hard for us to practice our spirituality outside of church or religious services.
Traditionally, yoga classes will end in a child’s pose, and the instructor will encourage you to relax, rest and recharge.
These precious minutes are a fantastic, daily opportunity to connect with your spirituality and spend a few minutes praying, offering thanks, and expending gratitude.
3. A meditative release
The gains and benefits of meditation have been widely touted by people from all walks of life.
Scientists and psychologists all tend to agree that taking 5 minutes a day to completely clear your mind can result in a happier, more focused and productive life.
But for most of us, sitting still and keeping our mind from wandering for an entire 5 minutes seems like just too much of a challenge.
Which is why yoga can be an extremely helpful meditative tool. There are a finite number of yoga poses, and as you get more settled into your practice or class, the more the flows and routine will become second nature.
With your body moving, and moving in a way that requires very little brainpower or focus, it becomes infinitely easier for your mind to empty, and those 5 minutes of insanely valuable meditation will fly right by.