Yoga Is More Than Just Stretching
What comes to your mind first when you think of yoga?
I’ve been a yoga teacher for nearly 10 years now, and I can’t even count all the times I’ve been told by friends, family and others, “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga.” Yoga is commonly seen as a way to stretch or perhaps meditate, and there is a common misconception that you need to be flexible in order to do it.
Surprise! That is not true at all.
If you struggle with flexibility and can’t touch your toes, then that is an even bigger reason to practice yoga! Just like with anything, consistency creates results. Yoga is no different.
However, there is so much more to yoga than just stretching! I’m here to share with you the many benefits of this incredible centuries old practice, and how it can make a huge impact on not just your body, but your mental and emotional states, too.
There are many types of yoga. Some, like Yin, focus on longer holds and a deeper opening of the body. This creates more range of motion and flexibility. The long holds are great for cultivating a meditative space, and being still with yourself and your thoughts. Yin is great to practice weekly, especially if you’re super active. It compliments the more heat-building, strength focused yoga, as well as any sports or other types of fitness you’re involved in.
Other styles of yoga, such as Power Vinyasa and Ashtanga, are the more common types of classes you’ll see at your local studios and gyms. These are athletic, and build an immense amount of strength, including core strength, which benefits your balance and stability, and even leads to a powerful lean physique.
Vinyasa yoga is a breath-to-movement flow, which feels like a dance. Through this rhythmic practice, you cultivate a moving meditation, while getting the heart rate up. This is truly a full-body workout, while creating a calm, focused mind at the same time.
Yoga is for all levels, all bodies, and all ages! There are always options and modifications that can be taken to make it work well for you.
Here are some overall benefits of yoga that really demonstrate how yoga is for everyone!
- Increases muscular strength
- Increases core strength
- Improves balance
- Strengthens and aligns the back and the spine
- Creates overall alignment in the body, and helps to fix any muscular compensations
- Cleanses, rinses and detoxifies organ systems
- Improves functional movement in multiple planes of motion
- Increases lung capacity and circulation through breath work
- Strengthens immunity
- Improves focus
- Quiets the incessant chatter of the mind
- Helps you become more present, and really listen to your body
- Relieves stress
- Deepens your intuition, and creates a more in-tune relationship with self
- Develops a mind/body connection and coordination
- Deepens sense of compassion, empathy and sense of overall well-being
- Encourages a mindfulness in how you treat yourself and others
- Spiritually deepens your connection to Source/God/The Universe
These are just some of the many incredible benefits of yoga! I could go on and on...but I won’t, at least for now :)
Did you also know that yoga can actually improve your capabilities in the other fitness and sport activities you do?
If you’re a golfer, yoga creates the muscular strength needed for your golf swing, the muscular endurance for those long games, as well as functional movement and flexibility to fine-tune your technique.
Play tennis? Include yoga in your weekly practice! Yoga strengthens the muscles that protect your joints, which are often stressed during tennis. It also helps focus the mind, so you stay free and clear while watching the ball, and improves flexibility and balance to move faster with more agility to hit the ball. Finally, after all of the activity, yoga is a wonderful way to recover, and balance out the body.
So, have I convinced you? Stretching is just one benefit of yoga. The magic of this beautiful practice goes much deeper, and may significantly impact your life. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!
Jenny Geyser, M. Ed.
Holistic Wellness Coach
Certified Yoga Instructor, E-RYT 500