Yoga is a type of workout that cultivates different types of practices, such as physical, mental, and spiritual. It mainly focuses on the connection between you and your body by combining meditation with physical poses. Ingrid Yang, M.D., a board-certified internal medicine physician and registered yoga teacher in San Diego, says, "Understanding the definition helps us understand that the experience of yoga is one of connection, referring to the union of our own body and mind. In this manner, yoga is an organic technique of helping us keep our mind and body in the same place at the same time."
As a physiotherapy major, I've always been interested in fitness and health; however, I've never really gotten the chance to try practicing yoga. It all started with some YouTube videos of Yoga with Adriene popping up on my recommendations page. I decided to give one a try and was overwhelmed by the amount of peace I felt after finishing the practice. This was when I decided I should cancel my gym membership and continue doing yoga because it simply felt good - even way better than the gym.
I bought a yoga mat off Amazon, dedicated a small space in my room for yoga, and every day I would just get onto YouTube and pick a random yoga workout based on my mood. Over time, I even started discovering different yoga instructors on Youtube, such as Yoga with Kassandra and Yoga with Bird. In a short amount of time, yoga quickly became a habit and my day wouldn't feel complete without it. If I were running out of time, I would at least try fitting in a short 5 or 10-minute practice.
And all of a sudden, I found myself passing the 3-months mark of practicing yoga on a daily basis and I felt very proud of myself. The results were incredible and I was more than satisfied with my commitment during the past months. If anything, yoga has completely changed my life and, surely, my body and mind. Yoga is known for its plenty of benefits and here are some that I've immediately noticed in a short amount of time:
1. Improved body strength
Surprisingly, yoga has several benefits when it comes to strength. I've always had very low muscle mass and even weightlifting wasn't helping me. I've never seen any improvement in my body up until I started doing yoga. The truth is that most of the poses in yoga are designed to tremendously improve overall body strength. Poses such as downward-facing dog, warrior II, chair pose, and crow pose are known to be effective in strengthening different body muscles using your own body weight. In addition, the more consistent you become at practicing yoga, the stronger you'll become. It's very self-motivating when you find yourself unable to do a specific pose and then a week or two later, you're mastering it!
Here are some yoga YouTube videos that focus on strength:
2. Enhanced flexibility
Flexibility and strength always go hand in hand. Your muscles must be strong enough for you to attempt specific flexibility exercises. However, this comes naturally with yoga, since it incorporates both types of exercises. In a normal yoga practice, the muscles in your body will be correctly stretched and strengthened, allowing you to become stronger and more flexible. This can also have numerous benefits in the long run, such as reducing the risk of injury, joint pain, and muscle strain. When I personally first started doing yoga, I was unable to touch my toes with my fingers and now I can fully bend my body over my legs while touching my toes. However, this didn't occur overnight. It all happens with consistency!
You can find a couple of Yoga videos that focus on flexibility below:
3. Improved balance
Balance and coordination are two very important aspects of physical health that must be maintained and improved. As we start to age, the muscle mass in our body starts to decline, reducing our ability to stay balanced. Therefore, yoga poses such as mountain pose, dancer's pose, and side-plank pose will help preserve your balance, reducing any risk of fall or fall injury. At first, it's normal to fall out of these challenging poses; however, don't give up and keep going. I can promise you that one day you'll find yourself mastering them.
Here are some of my favorite yoga flows that focus on improving balance:
4. Better mental health
Yoga is very effective at improving and enhancing overall mental health and well-being. It has helped me the most during exams by reducing all forms of stress and anxiety. The breathing techniques incorporated in the yoga flow help you relax and release any negative energy. Over time, you start finding serenity and feel less irritable.
Here are some yoga flows you should try whenever you're feeling unstable:
All in all, yoga is for absolutely everyone! It's a journey where you learn to breathe and take care of yourself, your body, and your mind. If you're inflexible or unfit, it doesn't mean that yoga will be difficult for you. It's not like what it seems on social media. The truth is that yogis can master a specific pose today and fall out of it the next day. It's all about the journey of finding yourself and finding what feels good.