The popularity of yoga has been increasing steadily in the US over the last few years – and it’s easy to see why.
As well as offering tons of physical benefits like increased strength, flexibility, and stamina, yoga has the power to improve your life in many surprising ways.
You don’t have to have any interest in fitness to benefit from perks like better sleep, increased focus, and better self-esteem.
Curious about the benefits of practicing yoga that go beyond the mat?
Keep reading to find out more.
1. You’ll Sleep Better
More than 60 million Americans struggle with insomnia, and it’s an issue that can have a massively detrimental impact on the rest of your life. When you’re not sleeping well, your physical and mental health suffer massively.
Yoga has tons of benefits when it comes to getting a better night’s sleep, making it a powerful tool in the battle against insomnia.
Getting exercise during the day ensures that you’re burning enough energy, which makes it easier to fall asleep at night.
On top of that, practicing yoga helps you learn to focus on your breath and body without becoming restless or uncomfortable. This is a valuable skill when you’re lying awake and don’t want to make things worse by getting frustrated.
Certain yoga poses, like child’s pose and bridge pose, are great for letting go of tension before bed. Once you understand a few different poses, you’ll be able to create your own bedtime yoga routine.
2. You’ll Feel More Relaxed
Do you go through life feeling stressed, panicked and overwhelmed?
You’re not the only one.
The demands of modern life can leave us all feeling like we need a long vacation. Luckily, yoga can offer us that break no matter where we are.
The combination of controlled breathing and slow, mindful movements make yoga a powerful tool for relaxation. Certain types of yoga, like hatha yoga and yin yoga, are slower and calmer than others, making them ideal for relaxation.
Yoga helps reduce levels of cortisol, the hormone that’s responsible for stress, which makes it perfect for times of particularly high anxiety – like starting a new job or moving house.
It’s also shown to lower your heart rate and reduce blood pressure, making you feel calmer and improving your overall health.
If you struggle with a diagnosed condition like anxiety, OCD, or PTSD, yoga could be a valuable addition to your current treatment plan – just be sure to chat to your doctor before trying anything new.
3. You’ll Make More Mindful Choices
It’s all too easy to go through life making choices on autopilot.
You might choose to eat junk food for dinner, then regret it the next day. You might snap at a friend, then wish you’d kept your mouth shut.
Learning to make more mindful choices can lead to less regret and help you feel more in control of your life.
Since practicing yoga is all about being mindful, it’s a great way to practice honing your skills.
When you feel frustrated during a tricky yoga pose but stick with it anyway, you’re learning to persevere through discomfort. When you’re trying hard to balance in a new position, you’re practicing greater bodily awareness.
These skills will quickly overlap into your everyday life, and you might find yourself practicing deep breathing when you’re upset at work, or doing a body scan when you’re stuck in traffic.
The work you do on the yoga mat is about a lot more than just getting fit – you’re also training your mind to make better choices.
4. You’ll Have Increased Self-Esteem
How do you feel about yourself after a day sitting on the couch eating junk food?
If you’re like most of us, not great.
However, taking the time to schedule in activities which you know will benefit you has an immediate positive effect on your self-esteem.
When you decide to practice yoga, you’re making a choice that you know will benefit your mental and physical health. You’re learning a new skill, becoming stronger and fitter, and dedicating time to something worthwhile.
If you often struggle with low self-worth, starting a regular yoga practice is a great way to give yourself a boost. Attending a public class will help you connect with others in a similar position and improve your social skills.
Once you’re feeling more confident socially, you’ll be able to develop better relationships – and your self-esteem should skyrocket.
There’s no set endpoint in yoga, so you’ll be able to enjoy lots of small victories, without feeling pressure to do things ‘right’. This is perfect if you find other forms of exercise too competitive.
5. Develop a Sharper Focus
Yoga requires 100% of your attention, and the combination of maintaining poses and focusing on your breath means it’s hard to get distracted.
The concentration skills you learn on the yoga mat will soon start to filter into the rest of your life – making it easier to focus on work, study, and personal projects.
Studies have shown that taking part in even a short yoga practice can improve your ability to process information, remember things, and perform mental tasks.
So, next time you’ve got a tricky piece of work to finish, try taking a break and spending 20 minutes on your yoga mat. When you return, you might find that your work is much easier to do.
Yoga also helps burn excess energy, which is ideal if you often feel restless while working.
How Can You Start Practicing Yoga?
It’s easy to start practicing yoga, even if you’re a complete beginner.
Look for a class in your local area, download an app with beginner yoga routines, or try following along with yoga videos online. Once you’ve got a taste for the kind of yoga you like, you can look for a regular class to attend.
If you’re particularly nervous or have other health issues, you could benefit from one-on-one tuition, which many yoga teachers can offer at your home.
Want more tips on staying healthy and happy? Explore our blog today.