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When You Start Doing Yoga, These 7 Things Will Happen

When You Start Doing Yoga, These 7 Things Will Happen

Yoga has been practised for thousands of years and when you start doing yoga, it’s easy to see why this practice remains popular. Yoga is designed to rejuvenate the body and mind, and is about focusing on the self. It’s a discipline that grows with you as you become more tuned in with your physical-spiritual connection. It can be easy to forget that yoga is a journey into your self-development and that class shouldn’t be a time to show off. It’s a time to heal, tune-in, see how your practice has evolved, and of course, to have fun!

Here are seven things that will happen when you start practising yoga.

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You’ll learn to let go of what doesn’t serve you

My teacher says this a lot in class and it really is true. As you begin to realise that there is no competition in class and there’s only so far you can push your body, you bring that philosophy into your life. You may also find that old emotions come up during a particular pose. I remember one class when I was so angry, I felt sick and felt like crying and I wondered if there was something wrong with me. Then I found this website which described why we can feel overwhelmed in class. It was helpful to be reminded that yoga entails allowing yourself to heal which means buried emotions resurfacing so they can be released.

You’ll become more confident!

Yoga allows you to connect more deeply with yourself and your body. You start to feel gratitude that you can hold your body weight – especially when doing a vinyasa that incorporates chaturanga! You embrace every part of yourself because you know it’s your body and you CAN do it. You’ll build muscle and tone up places you didn’t even know existed! Here’s a guide to how yoga changes the body over a prolonged period of time.

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You’ll become mindful of the types of food you eat

Maybe it’s the new found awareness of your body, or the detoxing stretches, but something clicks in your brain and suddenly you don’t want to fill your body with chemicals, or eat food loaded with sugar. Me and my friend always joke that the best meal of the week is the post yoga class meal. You feel so good that you want to carry that through into everything. Not only that, but your metabolism improves meaning your body can utilise vitamins and minerals with more efficiency and much more effectively. This study by Shauna E. Keeler describes how those who practised yoga were more mindful of their food choices.

You’ll sleep more deeply

Hooray!! This is something we could all do with more of! This detailed study by Catherine Woodyard shows how yoga contributes to a fuller and sounder nights sleep and is beneficial to all areas of our lives. When you get a good nights sleep, your productivity increases, your stress levels decrease and your cognitive function greatly improves. If you’re having difficulty sleeping The Yoga Journal website has some amazing poses to help you sleep better at night.

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You’ll become mindful of your actions off the mat as well as on the mat

You’ll gain an awareness of how your body reacts in particular situations and you’ll learn how to alleviate the symptoms and find a beneficial solution. You may begin to set positive intentions during the day as well as during class, and as a bonus you may find you’ll have more patience with the flow of life. Here’s what the Harvard Health website has to say about the benefits of yoga off the mat.

You’ll be aware of your breath as a healing tool

Yoga incorporates different breathing techniques that this study in the International Journal of Yoga says “positively affects immune function, autonomic nervous system imbalances, and psychological or stress related disorders”. This means that the techniques taught in a yoga class are far more beneficial than most people think. They can be incorporated into daily life to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and ease anxiety. For example diaphragmatic breathing is great for beginners because you are taught how to consciously breathe by concentrating on how it feels to breathe. If you’re interested in the different types of breathing exercises I recommend reading “Breath Easy: Relax With Pranayama”

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You’ll have less frequent aches and pains

The Harvard Health website states that those who suffer from chronic pain found that their pain lessened with weekly yoga sessions. As someone who suffers from neck and back pain I have definitely found that doing yoga has helped. In fact my neck pain has gone and my back pain very rarely flares up. If you decide that you want to pursue yoga for this reason then remember to speak to your doctor and find a qualified yoga instructor and inform them of your pain or any medical conditions you have. They can work with you to find poses to alleviate your pain.

“Yoga stirs up the comfortable identity you’ve been projecting and peels back why you even want/need that identity in the first place.” – Caren Baginski

The body follows the mind. Yoga is a discipline that allows you to fight past the doubt and realise how your limitations are in the mind. You start to honour yourself and suddenly the negative self-talk doesn’t cut it anymore. Through yoga you come to realise that negativity doesn’t serve you and that it acts as a barrier to all the positive things you can do. You’re empowered to love yourself and feel good about who you are and the progress you make not just in class, but in life too.

Featured photo credit: Hawaii Sunrise AcroRevolution Style via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 5, 2021

15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

Starting a journey with fitness goals is never easy, and you must remember this is not a crash diet; it is a lifestyle. Don’t panic and think you have to do it all at once, as this will most likely overwhelm you. You may also find yourself giving up because crash diets are not sustainable.

The best approach is to make simple changes to your daily habits, and over time, you will notice all your bad habits have turned into good ones.

Accordingly to a study by Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.[1] And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.

Here are 15 fitness goals to help you on your journey:

1. Drink More Water

W.H. Auden said it best when he said,

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”

With any diet, the most important thing to remember is to stay hydrated. Drinking water will support your body with digestion, transporting nutrients to your bones and muscles, and even improving cognitive function.

Ideally, you want to drink about half your body weight in ounces per day, i.e. if you weight 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water a day.

2. Add Some Lemon and Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Water

It is recommended we sleep for about 8 hours a day, but this means we spend about 8 hours per day dehydrated. Therefore, hydrating your body first thing in the morning is absolutely necessary.

The best way to achieve hydration is by starting your day with a glass or even two of water. For that extra boost, add lemon juice and ½ teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. The lemon and apple cider vinegar will help your body with detoxifying, cleansing, and digestion.

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3. Stop Drinking Your Calories

Yes, keeping hydrated is important, but try to avoid high-calorie drinks, such as soft drinks, specialty coffee, and juices as they are full of fast-acting sugar.

Really push yourself to stop drinking such drinks, and before you know it, you will notice the benefits.

4. Start Stretching More Often

The benefits are vast and the repercussions of failing to stretch can be dramatic.

Do yourself a favor and always stretch before and after a workout. This will promote a healthy cool down, improve flexibility, and reduce next day aches. Failure to stretch can lead to injures and muscle damage.

Here’re some simple stretching exercises to get you started: 15 Static Stretching Exercises to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

5. Add in Some High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

You may have heard about HIIT training because it is the big thing right now, and believe me when I say that it works and should absolutely be included in your fitness goals.

The benefits include lower body fat, increased stamina, leaner muscles, and fantastic hormonal benefits.

HIIT is where you perform an intense exercise for a very short time frame (about 30 seconds), followed by a slower exercise for about 90 seconds.

Performing a HIIT routine for 1-3 times a week will lead to great results.

6. Focus on Your Breathing When You Work Out

For the most part, breathing is second nature, but when exercising, you may find yourself holding your breath, and this can have negative consequences.

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It is important to consciously take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, as this will fill your lungs with oxygen and give you the necessary energy to continue your workout.

7. Build More Lean Muscle

We all want to have lean muscles. Not only does it look good, but it also has great health benefits, including:

  • Improved posture
  • Reduced body fat
  • Improved metabolism
  • Strong bones
  • Protects and improves joint health
  • Improved stamina

You can build lean muscle by lifting weights or through other specific exercises. Learn more about building muscle in this guide: How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?

8. Decrease Body Fat

This may seem like an obvious one, but it is one of the most important steps to a healthier you. Reducing your body fat has a lot of benefits such as:

  • Improved joints and tendons
  • Lowered risk of diabetes
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Better performance and endurance
  • Improved appearance and confidence
  • Better hormonal profiles in your body

Remember, it is not a race to see how quickly you can decrease your body fat. Healthy weight loss is around 1-2 pounds a week for your fitness goals.[2]

Crash dieting or pushing yourself too much in the gym can lead to you achieving an unrealistic target, and you may find yourself gaining all the weight you have lost.

Think of it as a lifestyle, and take it slow and steady.

9. Eat More Greens

What you eat is the most important factor in a healthier living plan. It is important to ensure you are getting as many nutrients and vitamins from the food you are eating as possible.

Focus on dark, leafy greens, as they will provide you with a wide array of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants—all of which you body needs!

Don’t forget to avoid processed and manufactured food. They are usually high in fat and have minimal vitamins.

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10. Start Eliminating Sugar

Another top goal you can start immediately is reducing the amount of sugar you consume. It also won’t cost you anything, and will save you money and improve your health in the long run.

There’s no surprise we eat too much sugar, and this should be one of your top fitness goals moving forward. Cutting out liquid calories is a great way to start. If you’re looking for something sweet, turn to fruits or even dark chocolate.

Be careful to eliminate sugar from your diet slowly. Cutting it out all at once can cause symptoms of sugar withdrawal, which can drive you back to sugary snacks[3].

Common symptoms of sugar withdrawal

    11. Allow Yourself to Rest and Recover

    The workout is where you go to break down muscle tissue, and it builds back through proper nutrition, rest, and recovery[4]. It might be tempting to go to the gym for two hours every day as hard as you can to achieve your goals, but that’s not the most effective approach.

    If you don’t allow for proper rest and recovery, it can set you back a few steps. Your body is more prone to injury and even illness as you can weaken your immune system from all the progressive intensity the body is facing.

    12. Get More Sleep

    When you are deprived of sleep, you make it next to impossible to achieve your health and fitness goals. Lack of sleep can increase stress hormones in your body, and over time these can lead to inflammation and chronic diseases.[5]

    Make sleep a priority to let your body heal and rejuvenate. A good approach is 7 to 8 hours. Also, allow yourself some wind-down time and a pre-bed routine to help get more consistent sleep every night.

    13. Focus on the Habit, Not the Result

    It’s easy to get caught up in trying to achieve a certain look or shed time off of your mile, but the more important focus is on the habit that will bring you closer to those fitness goals.

    Don’t look at the scale, the tape measurer, or the body fat percentage. Focus on the habits that will lead to those achievements.

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    Don’t compare yourself to where others are; you’re right where you need to be.

    14. Take Your Fitness Outside

    This may be hard depending on the weather you experience, but the more you can be outside exposed to fresh air and sunlight, the better.

    Being stuck in the gym doing cardio while staring at a wall won’t do much for your mental stimulation.

    Try to challenge your body more by getting outside. Hiking is great and also just running and walking. Give yourself more access to nature and a constantly changing environment. It also beats breathing in that recycled gym air.

    15. Do at Least One Pull Up

    This is a great last goal to focus on because it’s a great test of strength and to see how you are progressing with your fitness.

    If you haven’t been able to do one, you know what a challenge it can be. Having the goal of doing at least one pull up will not only show you how far you’ve progressed, but it is a great way to become dedicated and motivated.

    The Bottom Line

    These fitness goals will become more attainable through the year if you’re consistent with your fitness. Set yourself a concrete timeline for when you want to accomplish some or all of these in order to create realistic goals in the short term. In fact, start making one of these goals happen this month!

    More on Setting Fitness Goals

    Featured photo credit: Ivan Torres via unsplash.com

    Reference

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