There are an incredible number of benefits as a result of practicing yoga daily.
Among these are:
- Lowered stress, to handle days more effectively.
- Weight loss and tone muscle to look better.
- Healthy boost of self-esteem to feel better.
- Improve blood circulation to extend your life.
- As well as stimulating the immune system for healthy living.
- And more.
Many people cite the same responses from a strong workout at the gym. However, yoga is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to “grinding out” routines and strenuous regimes.
Here are just a few reasons why yoga is healthier than your local gym:
1. The Trifecta (Mind, Body, Spirit) Of Yoga
While yoga tones your body, it centres your focus on your breath – and unifies your mind, body and soul. This results in helping you being more in the moment, which is important for realising what is truly important in your life, and handling daily problems more peacefully.
The various positions we perform during yoga sessions also lifts our spirit. Empowering our soul with the tools necessary for one-ness and acquiring the success of a fulfilled day.
Physically, yoga helps us feel more confident about what we are capable of. Various yoga positions specifically help us ease frustrations and calm our tense nerves and agitation.
While not a religion by any means, many practitioners become “masters” of Yoga due to feeling a sense of higher spirituality. As a result of total awareness sessions provide, the physical body’s inner light shines – and our consciousness is awakened, taking us from the worries of the physical and material world. (Such as bills, kids, spousal problems, etc.)
2. Primes You Up for Badly-Needed Sleep
According to NPR, over 60% of Americans alone have insomnia. Yoga is a natural process with specific positions that put you in a relaxed state of mind, which helps you sleep. As you and I know, sleep is a necessity of life, and a lack of sleep only harms us in the long run.
Gyms, on the other hand, even after a long bath or shower, leave us feeling too drained to enjoy sleep. I personally can’t stand the muscle pain of a hard workout – which I’m sure you’re all too familiar with.
To ensure you fall (and stay) asleep in a wonderful dream, practice these positions will help you have a fuller, richer and deeper sleep before bedtime:
Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall)
For anyone who spends all day on their feet, this position improves blood circulation and heals your sore legs and entire body:
- Set a pillow against the wall.
- Lay on the pillow.
- Extend your legs toward the ceiling (keep your heels in line with your hips).
- Rest your head and shoulders fully on mattress.
- Extend your arms on either side of your head, with palms facing upwards, toward the ceiling. Facing your palms this way increases the positive energy that flows through you as you breathe.
3. Reduces Chances of Injury
The effect of mind and body unity cannot be underestimated, as I mentioned before. When our minds and bodies are connected, injuries happen less, as they are working together instead of being “pushed” (as is the case when bodybuilders and weight lifters exceed their body’s strength capacity).
Yoga exercises guide you to focus on every limb, bone and muscle in your body. Helping you move every one of them as naturally as possible, the way your body was made to.
Most equipment in gyms require a mechanic position that “fixes” your body into unnatural positions. This is why most people suffer injuries (aside from not warming up their tendons and joints properly).
4. Injury Recovery
Believe it or not, holding even one yoga position for more than one minute restores and rebuilds your connective tissue. This is why many athletes practice yoga on a daily basis as an effective form of the recovery process.
5. Eases Back Pain
As a result of sitting in my chair in front of my computer half the day, I have lower back problems. Having a chair not built for sitting in for long periods doesn’t help, either.
Since I don’t have the money to buy a new, more comforting chair, yoga is a tremendous help to strengthen my back muscles and fix my posture. Having poor posture is the reason many people take pain-relievers and medication to deal with their back problems. Yoga naturally reinforces the spine and strengthens it.
Here are a few back-specific positions that are easy to do, that I use on a near-daily basis:
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold)
6. Yoga Teaches Life Lessons
I’m sure you’ve heard, time and time again, that yoga is about self-acceptance. Through continual practice, you learn more about yourself on a deeper level.
When you’re in the gym, you’re often entering the mindset of competition – feeling like you have to “keep up” with everybody else who is on a rampage to tear themselves to pieces. Yoga helps us realise what we’re capable of, and accept who we reveal ourselves to be.
7. Less Body Strain
Anyone who practices yoga knows it’s a workout in and of itself. However, it’s a lot less intense on your body than using gym equipment. (Barbell squatting, overhead presses, etc.)
These gym moves are taxing on your tendons and joints – ultimately leaving you less mobile and flexible, which yoga naturally enhances mobility and flexibility. Also, know that, while you’re in one position, the transition into another position is seamless as possible, since your body is already training itself for the next position!
What are some great transitions that put your body through a workout without harming you?
Bitilasana (Cow Pose)
This position is amazing for warming the body and making the spine more flexible, while stimulating your abs (as well as stimulating the mind.)
- To perform the cat-cow pose, get on your hands and knees with your wrists under your shoulders, and your knees under your hips.
- While raising your head towards the ceiling, inhale and let your stomach hang towards the mat (while sticking your butt out). Do not “drop” towards the mat – merely lower your stomach.
- Draw your shoulders away from your ears.
- Hold the position for 30 seconds or so. (Unlike conventional exercise, holding positions isn’t as time-structured. Hold each position for as long as you naturally can without feeling weak; yoga is about being in tune with your body, not following the clock.)
- Move into Cat Pose: Exhale.
- As you exhale, draw your stomach “towards” your spine and round your back upwards, toward the ceiling. While your spine should arch, it’s important to keep it in as neutral as possible (much like a cat does – hence the name.)
- While you’re inhaling, switch back to the Cow Pose.
- As you’re exhaling, switch back to the Cat Pose
- Repeat the process between 10-15 times.
Now that you know the huge benefits of yoga vs. gyms, consider these positions and more the next time you’re thinking about hitting the gym. There’s no short of exercises out there that are safer for your body – as well as helping you find your inner self.
A tech-fanatic, net-addict, yoga-doer, meditation-practitioner, movie-buff, travel-bee and freelance writer.