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5 Benefits Of Yoga

We love yoga. This much is obvious, seeing as how we run a yoga website! Most of us have been practicing yoga for years, and have seen numerous benefits physically, mentally, and spiritually. If you haven’t taken a yoga class before or don’t know much about it, you may be unaware of how it can improve your life. We have compiled a list of some of the surprising benefits to practicing yoga. Once you know these benefits, I’m sure you’ll want to grab a yoga mat and start right away!

#1 More Flexibility

Have you ever known anyone that can put their feet behind their head? Do the splits very well? Most likely, that person practices yoga. There is a whole lot of stretching going on in a yoga class. Certain movements target the glutes, hip flexors, hamstrings, groin muscle, and much more. Even after one or two classes, you will notice that your flexibility will start to improve. Stick with it long term and you will see beautiful results. And, with more flexibility, you are less likely to have a serious injury.

#2 Better Posture

Part of yoga is about finding your center and listening to your body. You are forced to concentrate on sitting or standing tall during certain movements, creating a long and lean body. You’ll notice that by keeping your shoulders back and focusing on not slouching, your posture will improve. Ballet dancers are known for having great posture, and the concepts learned in yoga about standing straight and keeping your chest up also apply in dancing techniques. Plus, having good posture also makes you appear thinner!

#3 Intune with your Body

One aspect of yoga that takes some getting used to is being conscious of your breathing during the exercises. If you take a yoga class, you might hear the instructor say something along the lines of “Concentrate on your breathing,” or “Take a deep breath in, and out.” These reminders help us to be aware of how our body responds to the movements and create a natural rhythm between what we do and how we breathe. Breathing in sync with the movements also prevents any lightheadedness or dizziness that can occur.

#4 Improved Balance

Do you have a difficult time walking in a straight line? Is it hard standing on your toes without falling over? Taking yoga can help with this. Specific yoga exercises force you to focus on targeting your core and glute area for balance exercises. I know for some of us, working on our balance can be a struggle, especially if you are prone to experiencing motion sickness, vertigo, or other inner ear issues. Take these exercises slowly and you will improve over time. You might even notice your issues being less of a problem.

#5 Ability to Relax

This one is probably my favorite. Along with breathing, relaxation exercises help you to be more intune with your body. In conjunction with proper breathing techniques, you are able to fall into “relaxation mode” and clear your mind. It’s a form of meditation meant to force you think about, well,  nothing. Since we are all stressed out most of the time, relaxation exercises give you a chance to let some of that stress go and appreciate the calmness and silence.

There are numerous other benefits to practicing yoga, but this list is just the basics. Really, there are no scary aspects to doing yoga. Just go at your own pace and listen to your body and inner soul. Then, you’ll really reap the most rewards.

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A Beginners Guide To Yoga

Yoga is an activity that most people have heard of but don’t know much about, including how to do it or even the benefits it can provide for those that do it. This is especially true when it comes to men and yoga. Seeing it is a mostly female popularized activity, the most knowledge of yoga that men tend  to have is that their wife or girlfriend does it. To provide a public service and help educate newcomers, we have created a beginners guide to yoga.

This isn’t a how-to guide on certain poses, as that would be nearly impossible to do without being able to show you a video or be there in person. This is a guide that will help you understand what to expect from yoga and some things to remember when you’re starting out. Just like anything else, you’re not going to master it by taking one class. It takes time and effort, but it’s something that can help anybody feel and perform better.

Hang Back

If you are new to yoga and are intimidated by the poses you have seen before, you may be hesitant to join a class. Don’t let that deter you from giving it a try. Like anything else, everybody has to start somewhere. With that said, when you do start, it’s probably a good idea to go to the back of a class. This will help you feel like everyone isn’t staring at you (trust me, you don’t have to worry about this, as everyone is probably focused only on themselves) and will let you see others do certain movements that you are trying to learn. Most instructors will interact with you if they have never seen you in class before and will try to help you feel welcome.

Don’t Get Discouraged

Yoga is one of those activities that if you have never done it before, it can be quite humbling. Many movements require a combination of balance, strength, and agility. More than likely, you won’t have all these aspects down when you’re just starting out, but don’t get discouraged. Part of yoga is building strength by doing the movements consistently over time. When you can’t do a certain pose  at first, stick with it for a few weeks and you’ll be surprised at how easy it eventually becomes.

Focus On Breathing

This is one that is difficult for many that come from a background of weight lifting and/or playing competitive sports. This is because unlike other activities, yoga is about breathing as much as it is about performing the various movements. During the poses, part of the challenge is to breathe in and out in certain at times. When you’re used to hitting weights hard, it can be a little bit of a change to yoga. You actually want to be calm during yoga, compared to the semi rage fits that many use to lift weights. Just like getting the poses down, learning how to breathe properly is something that takes time and practice to master. But once you are used to concentrating on breathing, you won’t have to think about it as much.

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Can Yoga Make You A Better Athlete?

As someone who loves yoga, it may come as a surprise that I also consider myself an athlete. I’m not saying I’m Lebron James or anything like that, but I’m always trying to get more out of my body. Like other athletes, I want to be stronger, faster, quicker and have more endurance a year from now than I do currently. I say all this to answer a question that I tend to get a lot, which is “Can yoga help someone become a better athlete?” Well, if someone wants to be more flexible, stronger, quicker, more agile, have better balance, and the ability to better focus, then the answer would have to be “Yes!”

I live in a city where high school sports is a big deal. There are a few local colleges where sports are pretty big as well. In the last few years, I have had more athletes coming to do yoga because they want to gain a competitive advantage. Most come in a bit skeptical. I will overhear the guys usually asking the trainers at the gym about the best test booster of 2015 or which supplements are going to give them an advantage before they will even peek their head into the yoga studio. They may not usually start out looking to yoga, but a lot are willing to try it because they know their teammates or others have done it before. Plus, yoga is becoming more and more popular over time.

Now, I don’t claim to know much about sports. My knowledge of it comes from clients of mine who play sports and inform me of things here and there. What I do know is that the athletes that do yoga at our studio usually report back to me that they feel more athletic, explosive, and, perhaps more importantly, have less injuries. I can’t say I’m surprised by any of this because these are all the benefits that myself and many others I know have experienced over the years. The difference is we don’t play competitive sports like these guys do.

The reason that yoga helps one become a better athlete is hard to quantify, but it helps with:

  • Increased core strength – lack of core strength is a culprit of all sorts of injuries
  • Increased flexibility – joints and muscles that are flexible are harder to strain or pull
  • Quicker reflexes – muscles that are flexible also react quicker, which means better reflexes and reaction time
  • Better balance – balance is often overlooked, but it aids in so many things
  • Increased range of motion – more flexibility means that the joints have an increased range of motion and usually a more pain-free one as well
  • Better focus – so much of yoga is focus and this is something that aids athletes a lot

There are more reasons, but those are the major ones. I’ve even chatted with many of the different school’s strength coaches who say they have noticed better performance by some of the athletes that do yoga with us, so we know it helps.

We’ve even had athletes that participate in powerlifting that say they have been able to increase their strength more than usual, and they attribute that to yoga. So even though myself or most yoga teachers couldn’t tell you what the top rated wrist wraps for powerlifters are (or even what they look like), we can help you bench and squat more. I find that pretty funny honestly.

I personally love hearing how yoga helps so many different people in so many different ways. It’s really a testament to how great it really is. So whether you’re an athlete, powerlifter, or a weekend warrior, yoga can aid you in whatever it is you do.

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Stressed Out? Try Yoga!

It’s not a stretch to say that most people, especially here in the U.S., are pretty stressed out. In fact, people are so stressed that it’s almost a badge of honor to talk about all the different things that they have to do and how stressed out it makes them. I understand that we all have things to do and it’s impossible to remove all stress from one’s life, but we definitely don’t need to be as stressed out as we are. Stress can cause all sorts of health problems and mental cloudiness. It impacts our daily lives and can intrude on our quality of life.

For those that are stressed out and are seeking some sort of relief from it all, I would highly suggest taking up yoga. There are many benefits that yoga can provide, from increased flexibility, endurance,  and even more strength. Perhaps though, one of the greatest benefits of yoga is that it forces you to relax and center yourself. Yoga is one of those things that if you don’t breathe properly and relax a bit, then you won’t be able to do most of the movements that yoga demands. More importantly, there are many benefits that practicing yoga has for those that are a little stressed out. Some of them include:

    • Lower blood pressure – Including better overall heart health.
    • Lower cortisol levels – This is the hormone that is produced due to stress and it can cause all kinds of havoc on the body.
    • Better sleep – Better sleep helps you manage stress and even prevent stress from happening in many cases.
    • Lower depression rates

These are just a few of the health benefits that yoga can provide, especially those that are feeling especially stressed out. Not to mention, if you are stressed out, it never hurts to take some time to relax and focus on your breathing, which is one of the cornerstones of yoga practitioners. I can attest to the fact that if I have had a stressful day, I look forward to getting to my yoga class. By the time I’m done with the class, and even though many of the things that have been stressing me out are still present, I leave feeling relaxed and almost relieved. Think about how beneficial it is to take a yoga class after a long day at work. You’ll feel more rested and able to handle all of the stress that will be there when you go back to work.

There are even many psychologists that recommend yoga to their patients that tend to suffer from issues that stress can trigger. Things like anxiety, depression, and even bipolar disorders are all things that stress can either trigger or make worse, and yoga seems to help those that suffer from them manage their stress much better. If that doesn’t tell you that yoga can help you manage stress, then I don’t know what would. And that’s really what yoga will help you do, manage your stress better. You won’t leave a yoga class and no longer have anything that will stress you out, but it will give you a tool you can use to help manage that stress and live a happier life.