You’ve likely heard of the health benefits of yoga: reduces stress, improves posture, increases flexibility, and much, much more. You may have even heard some things that may be questionable…however, regardless of your age or fitness level , or what you may or may not be training for, yoga is one of the best things you can do for your body.
Here are three stellar reasons to add some yoga to your fitness routine:
1.) Balance. Take a moment and stand on one leg. Then shift, and stand on the other. If you can, kick your free leg out in front of you and then behind you, very, very slowly. How hard does your standing foot/ankle work to keep you stable and steady? This is a good indicator of your ability to balance. In every day life, walking or running requires balancing on one leg. As we age, this balance becomes more and more critical. Yoga gives you the opportunity to practice balance. You may suck – and some days are better than others, but yoga provides a practice to strengthen your balance and the muscles in your feet (your future self will thank you later!).
2.) Identifies tightness/weakness. In practicing yoga you will inevitably discover (if you didn’t know already) where you are tight, and/or weak. Your balance on one side might be off – that ankle might be weaker. Your left hip might be tighter than your right. In practicing (which requires you to go to more than just one class) you begin to notice your body’s imbalances, how you compensate, and how you might favor one side vs. the other. Through this awareness, you can begin to make changes and strengthen those areas that may be weak.
3.) Practice with discomfort. Yoga gives you the opportunity to practice holding discomfort. In exercise (and in life), your mind will stop you waaaaaay before your body is ready to give in. The practice of Yoga gives you the opportunity to hold discomfort and breathe through it. This is immensely helpful in that third set of deadlifts, at mile 23…or while staring down your three year old in a battle of wills.
In the end, yoga has many, many benefits and applications to most any athletic discipline. This practice can only make you better, in more ways than one. Give yoga a try today – and know that it may take more than one class to decide if it’s for you. Find a teacher you resonate with, and a class in which you feel comfortable – again, your future self will thank you later!