There’s nothing better than getting a little bit bendy every now and again. It makes us more able to make limber, agile movements and helps us feel light the most sprightly versions of ourselves. It’s particularly lovely for those of us that tend to focus on more high intensity workouts like running, boxing or cycling, as our muscles tend to become stiff and tight from all that effort.
So you probably practice, whether it’s a once a week Yin session at Delight or your weekday morning sun salutation and love the flexibility you get from it. But did you ever stop to think about why else yoga may be good for you? It may surprise you, but the truth is that there are about as many subtle benefits to a regular yoga practice as there are poses in a Vinyasa class at Soho House. And with a little bit of dedication and a little bit of flow, you can improve your life immensely.
Want to know how? We’ll break it down for you here.
One of our absolute favourite reasons to do yoga is the mental benefits reaped from even just one session. After all, they’re actually just as important – if not more so – than the physical benefits. Numerous studies have shown that the long-term practice of yoga is wildly beneficial for mental help, helping to encourage relaxation, alleviate symptoms of anxiety and manage life with depression. A regular yoga practice actually lowers the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body; it’s proven that lower levels of cortisol overall correlate with better mental health. The breathing techniques like ujjayi that you learn in class are also great tools to employ in your everyday life when stressful situations arise.
Do you struggle with insomnia or poor sleep quality? Well, yoga is here to come to your rescue. Physical activity in general has been shown to regulate sleep patterns and quality, but it turns out that yoga is even more effective at ensuring better sleep. Restorative yoga like Yin or Hatha actually increases the secretion of melatonin, the most important sleep hormone. Even holding a few relaxing poses like child’s pose or happy baby before you slip into bed can give you the same benefits. Just make sure you’re not engaging in a super energising form of yoga like Bikram right before bedtime!
With all of the desk jobs that so many of us are working these days, poor posture is becoming an epidemic. Planting ourselves in front of a screen (and then a tram or a bicycle) all day leaves us with poor postural muscles. If that wasn’t bad enough, that actually results in tightness and imbalance in the lower back, upper back, neck, shoulders, hips and chest, all of which is not only uncomfortable but also ends up with our poor posture. Thankfully, yoga will realign and strengthen your muscles, improving your posture. Not only will you look more elegant but will also likely suffer from fewer headaches and muscle ailments.
We always seek balance in all things so why not also in our body? Balance is good for more than just surfing. In fact, it can take all of your physical training to the next level. Most yoga requires great core strength, balance and stability and helps to develop these in the body. Think about it: tree pose, half moon, almost all of them help with the balance that will improve your athleticism.
And last but not least, yoga will improve blood flow in your body. Having healthy circulation and blood flow is probably the best way we know to aid everyday bodily functions and avoid devastating cardiovascular diseases. Yoga is a wonderful and effective way to get blood moving in your system, particularly if you spend most days sedentary. Bonus points for the fact that this will likely also improve the sensations of cold extremities, brittle nails and muscle cramps.
So, tell us. Why do you yoga?