Before January of this year, I had never tried yoga. I knew it wasn’t going to help me develop the strength I desired or the endurance I wanted. I knew it was predominately performed by females and never performed by any of my close friends. And, I knew it was performed mostly in silence, without shoes or socks. Which seemed kinda weird. So, I just assumed there wasn’t a whole lot of benefits that I could reap from it and that it didn’t fit my health and fitness goals. Therefore, I kind of discarded the idea of yoga from my head.
That was until the sixth date I had with my girlfriend earlier this year. It was her time to choose the date since I had picked most of the previous dates. And most of the previous dates I setup were based on things I was good at and was interested in sharing like going rock climbing, making smoothie bowls or watching health documentaries. So now she wanted to pay me back by sharing something she enjoyed. Yoga. She invited me to a 1 hour heated yoga session at Breath Yoga. I responded to her invite by saying something like this: “sure, let’s do it but don’t expect me to become a yogi.”
Here we are at the end of the year and I’ve probably done 30+ yoga sessions. I wouldn’t say I’m a yogi, but I’m a practitioner. And as I’ve gotten more into the yoga space, I’ve been paying closer attention to the studies and stories being published about it. And it turns out that yoga is quite beneficial for health and happiness.
Mindset and Space to Think (or not)
Surprisingly, the silence, space to think, or space to relax that yoga provides is very beneficial for me. After being “on” all day for work, it’s nice to find time where all the distractions are removed and I can decompress. I like to use this time to stop thinking about the next thing to do on my list, and rather think about bigger picture items. Rather than think about what I need to do next, think about why am I wanting to do the various things on my list. Am I prioritizing the right items and what should I focus my efforts on? Yoga has provided that space to slow down and help me re-frame what matters and what is important.
I also like it as a space to relax as well. Sometimes after being “on” all day, it’s nice to move throughout the poses while being able to let go of all thoughts. This can be a great tool to reduce stress. And it turns out, many more psychiatrists are recommending yoga too. Psychiatrists are seeing the results yoga is having on people, and pushing more of their patients to try it. Yoga is being shown to help with stress, depression and anxiety along with a number of other cognitive, mental, and emotional health disorders. So, while I like to use yoga to rethink my priorities or reduce stress, challenge yourself to think about how yoga can help with your mindset.
Flexibility and Mobility
What turned out to be my favorite part of yoga was the focus on flexibility and mobility. With my usual workout routines involving explosive muscle contractions from weight lifting and sprinting, my flexibility and mobility can become limited if not attended to. This is where yoga came in. In yoga, there are a lot of poses that involve deep stretches, great posture, and various body contortions. In each of these poses, it gives me an opportunity to work on flexibility and mobility by stretching out tight muscles and loosening up stiff joints. While I tend to do a 15 minute stretching or joint mobility routine each day, I find that a 30 minute yoga session can be substituted to provide a lot of the same benefits.
It turns out, many more athletes are also turning to yoga for these same benefits. According to the article linked, by improving flexibility and mobility with yoga, you can correct misalignments within the body that can cause pain or injury. You can also work on strengthening core stability muscles which help improve posture and alignment. All of this helps athletes stay on the field longer and everyday people live with less pain. Challenge yourself to think about how yoga can help with your flexibility, mobility, posture, and alignment.
Like I mentioned above, I like to do a 30 minute yoga session in place of my stretching and joint mobility routines. I find that by doing yoga some days, and my stretching and joint mobility routines other days, that they provide more variety and greater results than one program alone. While I do have a membership at a local gym where I occasionally attend group yoga sessions, I also have a BeachBody on Demand membership that houses dozens of yoga routines (my favorite one being Yoga for Runners with Ted). If you’ve never tried yoga before, I recommend trying the 30 minute Full Body Yoga for Flexibility & Strength routine by Sarah Beth Yoga. It’s a great routine covering a lot of the core poses and stretches performed in yoga.
While I never intended to become a yogi, I did become a yoga believer. Yoga is a great space to work on your mindset, reprioritize your goals, and reduce stress. But, yoga is more than just mental. It can help with flexibility, mobility, and core stabilization which in turn helps prevent injuries and reduce pain. If you’ve never done yoga before, I challenge you to give the video shown above a go and try to figure out how yoga can help you be happier and healthier.
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Hey, I am Brandon Zerbe
Welcome to myHealthSciences! My goal has always been to increase quality-of-life with healthy habits that are sustainable, efficient and effective. I do this by covering topics like Cognitive Health, Fitness, Nutrition, Sleep, Financial Independence and Minimalism. You can read more about me here.
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