Some people think that yoga is a slow-paced, easy workout, but anyone who’s taken a yoga class knows that couldn’t be further from the truth!
Even if you’re practicing a slower form of restorative yoga, you’ll still leave the studio feeling sore. Yoga is a full-body workout that stretches your body in unfamiliar ways and targets muscles you didn’t even know you had.
There are also several types of fast-paced yoga that will challenge you even more.
Rocket and power yoga have quick pose transitions to get your heart pounding.
Bikram yoga is practiced in a room heated to around 105 degrees to help you burn fat and detoxify your body. The class lasts for 90 minutes and is one of the most taxing workouts out there.
The founder of Bikram himself even referred to the heated rooms as “torture chambers” because they’re so uncomfortable to exercise in!
Because yoga is so difficult, it can be hard to motivate yourself to stick with your practice. Studio classes can also be expensive, and yoga poses can take a long time to master.
This causes many people to fall off the bandwagon and abandon yoga before they’ve had a chance to experience all of its amazing benefits.
To encourage you to keep going when things get tough, I’ve put together this motivational post full of inspirational quotes, tips to help you spice up your practice, and more.
Hopefully it helps remind you why you love yoga and gives you that extra push you need to continue!
7 Health and Fitness Benefits of Yoga
We all know that yoga is great for relieving stress and increasing flexibility. But what other health benefits are you getting when you hit the mat?
Here are 7 lesser known perks of developing a regular yoga practice — and they’re all great reasons to push through the discomfort.
1. Improves heart health
Exercise is great for your heart, and yoga is no exception.
In a recent study, participants who started practicing yoga regularly lost an average of 5 pounds, decreased their blood pressure by 5 points, and lowered their bad cholesterol by 12 points.
Yoga can also help you get your stress levels under control, which may prevent you from having a heart attack down the road.
Researchers even believe that doing yoga can decrease your risk of heart disease as much as higher intensity forms of exercise like brisk walking and jogging.
(Learn more about the yoga results you can expect after just 30 days.)
2. Helps you develop better eating habits
Although yoga doesn’t burn as many calories as running and jogging, it can still help you kick your cravings and shed excess pounds.
A recent study found that people who practiced yoga ate more mindfully and had a lower BMI than participants who performed more intense forms of cardio.
Yoga can help you hone in on your body’s physical sensations and recognize if you’re really hungry or just eating out of boredom, so it’s a great weight loss tool.
3. Promotes creativity
It’s well known that yoga decreases stress, but did you know it can boost your creativity too?
A recent study showed that mindfulness, a type of meditation that’s often practiced during yoga, leads to out of the box thinking and can help you generate innovative ideas.
The breathwork you do during yoga class can also get your creative juices flowing. Research has shown that deep breathing exercises increase your alpha brain waves, which are associated with lower levels of stress and higher levels of creativity.
So the next time you can’t find a solution to a complex problem, get into your favorite pose and wait for inspiration to strike!
4. Increases strength
Although you won’t get ripped like a bodybuilder from doing yoga, it’s still a great way to increase your functional strength and flexibility.
In one study, a group of healthy young adults took 24 Bikram classes over the course of 8 weeks.
At the end of their training, they had better deadlift and handgrip strength. They also had significantly more lower back, hamstring, and shoulder flexibility than the control group.
Many asanas like boat pose require you to get into a position and hold it, which helps build up your muscular strength and endurance.
Popular poses like downward dog and child’s pose are also great for stretching your muscles and increasing your overall range of motion.
You’ll also develop killer core strength if you keep up with your yoga practice, and may even notice your abs peeking through after a few months.
5. Better immunity
If you need another reason to stick with your practice, research has shown that yoga has more immune boosting benefits than other forms of exercise.
A 2013 study found that doing yoga for just a few hours turned on 111 genes that regulate the immune system and keep it healthy. In comparison, walking only turned on 38.
The breathing exercises you do during yoga class can also strengthen your lungs and help flush out the harmful bacteria that cause colds. So you may notice that you get sick less often when you incorporate yoga into your fitness routine.
6. Improves bone health
Although most people don’t develop osteoporosis until they’re over 50, bone loss actually starts much sooner when you’re around 35.
If you want to prevent fractures and breaks down the road, it’s important to start taking care of your bones now.
Weight-bearing exercises like yoga are great for bone health because they promote the formation of new bone, even in people who already have significant bone loss.
In a recent study, several participants with osteopenia who practiced yoga for just 10 minutes per day were able to reverse it completely.
If you start a daily yoga practice now, you may be able to avoid this painful condition altogether and remain healthy and active throughout your golden years.
7. Relieves pain
One of the major benefits of yoga is that it eases many different types of chronic pain.
Studies have shown that yoga is more effective at increasing mobility in back pain sufferers than the standard course of treatment.
It has also yielded good results for people who struggle with chronic migraines, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and more.
Yoga is so effective at relieving pain because it’s a complete mind-body workout.
Asanas help ease physical discomfort by stretching your muscles and releasing built-up tension.
The deep breathing and meditation exercises often practiced during yoga class also help reduce stress, which is a trigger for many chronic pain conditions.
So if regular exercise and medication aren’t cutting it, you may want to try adding yoga to your treatment regimen. But as always, make sure you consult with your doctor first.
5 Yoga Quotes to Get You Motivated
Still need a little extra push to break out your yoga mat after a long day at work?
Here are 5 inspirational quotes to get you pumped up and excited for your workout.
The very heart of yoga practice is abhyasa — steady effort in the direction you want to go.
The yoga pose is not the goal. Becoming flexible is not the goal. Standing on your hands is not the goal. The goal is serenity. Balance. Truly finding peace in your own skin.
Anyone who practices can obtain success in yoga but not one who is lazy. Constant practice alone is the secret of success.
Balancing in yoga and life is a reflection of our inner state. Can we dance with change? Can we fall and try again with playfulness? Do we have the focus, skill, and attunement to find the still point within it all?
The yoga pose you avoid the most you need the most.
If Yoga Gets Boring, Try These Motivation Tips
If you’re not a yoga beginner, but you’re starting to lose the fire you had early on in your journey, it may be because your regular yoga practice is getting a little stale.
Here are some tips to help you switch up your routine and make it feel interesting and fun again.
Try a new type of yoga
One of the great things about yoga is that there are several different styles you can try when your normal routine gets boring, including vinyasa, hatha, iyengar, and ashtanga.
Vinyasa and ashtanga involve faster pose transitions to challenge your body, while iyengar and hatha require you to hold each pose for a long time to build muscular endurance.
All of them are good for you, so it’s just a matter of what you’re in the mood for—slow, restorative yoga or a fast-paced, heart-pumping workout.
(Learn more about the different yoga styles to try based on your personality and goals.)
If you’ve been taking yoga at the gym vs a yoga studio, you might want to try a dedicated studio to get some more variety.
Take a hybrid yoga class
Another way to spice up your practice is to take a hybrid yoga class.
Hybrid classes combine yoga with other types of exercise like CrossFit and pilates to up the intensity. They often use weights, circuit training, and traditional yoga poses to strengthen and challenge your muscles in new ways.
(You’ll find these types of workouts at places like Spenga, which combines spin, strength, and yoga work.)
There are also some quirky hybrid classes out there, like aerial yoga and goat yoga, which requires you to perform asanas with a baby goat on your back!
These fun classes will add a little novelty back into your yoga practice, which can help reignite your passion for it and give you the motivation you need to keep going.
One thing I like to do to change up my yoga routine is to add props.
Props like yoga wheels, blocks, and straps are often used by beginners to modify poses and make them easier, but that’s not the only way they can be used.
Straps are great for extending your reach so you can perform poses you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Blocks can also be strategically placed to deepen a pose and make it more challenging.
There are lots of interesting lunges and backbends you can do with a yoga wheel. You can even place it underneath you during crow’s pose and balance yourself on it, which requires a ton of balance, control, and core strength.
I’m just scratching the surface of what you can do with props. You can find lots of other fun ways to incorporate them into your routine on YouTube, Instagram, and yoga-related websites.
Although props require a bit of an upfront investment, they can really help you advance your practice and get stronger, so they’re well worth it.
Maintaining a regular yoga practice isn’t easy.
Sometimes the last thing you want to do after a long day is an intense power yoga session!
But if you can push through the soreness and motivate yourself to show up to class, you’ll get tons of benefits from practicing yoga regularly.
It’s a total mind-body workout that reduces pain, relieves stress, increases flexibility, and more.
Although yoga is a lot of hard work, it’s worth it for the peace and calm it can bring to your life.
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Hope this helps!