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12 Things About Yoga You Probably Don’t Know

12 Things About Yoga You Probably Don’t Know

Yoga is a beginner friendly exercise that will give you a sharp mind, positive attitude, and calm demeanor. Don’t feel self-conscious about it, because no one was flexible to start with (that takes practice!). If you’re not already taking a class, I bet you’ll want to after you read these 12 things about yoga.

Surprising Benefits

1. Yoga is a break from your stressful day. 

We are surrounded by stressful expectations placed on you by your partner, parent, superior, society, or whoever. No matter how upset these things might make you, remember that you can’t do anything about them. Practicing yoga can help you become a less stressed, present-focused person.

2. Yoga is a remedy for anxiety and depression. 

We live in an upsetting world. That devastating break-up that left you emotionally drained. A move to a new town where you don’t know anybody. The sadness that follows losing a family member, friend, or pet. No matter how sad you might feel, remember that you deserve to be happy. Practicing yoga can help you improve your mood and mental functioning.

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3. Yoga improves your balance and breathing pattern. 

We are chained to our desks. That hunched over back from hours of sitting. A closed-off appearance that expresses a lack of esteem. The panic that follows short, rushed breathing. No matter how self-conscious you might feel now, remember that confidence is a skill that you can learn. Practicing yoga can help you develop balance and a calm breathing pattern.

4. Yoga boosts concentration and productivity. 

We live in a distracting world. That feeling of dread that comes when a deadline is drawing near. A list of stuff to do that grows and grows. The loud noisy of the phone that never stops ringing. No matter how busy you might feel, remember that a state of overwhelm could be a signal that you are over-committed or impatient. Practicing yoga can help you focus on getting stuff done 

Common Misconceptions

5. Yoga requires you to stretch yourself into a pretzel. 

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You don’t have to be an acrobat to go to yoga class. I couldn’t reach my ankles in a forward fold the first time I tried it. My hips were so tight that I needed to tools like blocks for the bent-over poses. I wasn’t very graceful, so I practiced the balance poses at home with my hand placed on a wall. It doesn’t matter where you are starting from. The important thing is where you are going to.

6. Yoga is a religious practice that demands you to say “om.” 

Yoga does have spiritual roots, but that doesn’t mean have to chant to spirit gods or anything like that. Most yoga classes in commercial gyms will focus on athletic poses, while yoga studios might offer classes that include meditation. If you want a class that is more (or less) mindful, just ask your gym or yoga studio for details before signing up.

7. Yoga classes are all created equally. 

There are more varieties of yoga than I could possibly list here. Hot yoga classes use humid conditions to encourage flexibility. Power yoga classes use a wide variety of athletic poses to keep things interesting. There are yoga classes for special populations like seniors, children, and expecting mothers. If you can’t find something you like, you’re not looking hard enough.

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8. Yoga is the only exercise you need to do. 

Yoga is a great way to improve your mind and body, but a balanced fitness routine would also include cardio and strength training. You could improve your heart health by walking your dog at the park, running a few blocks in your neighborhood, or going on a hike. Develop your strength by lifting weights, joining a boot-camp class, or doing push-ups during commercial breaks (hands on a wall or counter if needed).

Actionable Ways to Get Started

9. Perform the sunrise salutation every morning. 

Sunrise salutations are a feature of vinyasa (flow) yoga. The previous link includes a routine you could do in ten minutes to begin your day feeling relaxed. The video below includes modifications that will make the same routine doable for people of all shapes and sizes.

10. Join a yoga class.

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Seek knowledge from a coach or instructor if you have a hard time understanding proper form. An exercise class also offers instruction plus social support, which might encourage you to be consistent with your yogapractice. Just search for “yoga in (insert your city and state)” to find out what’s available.

11. Bring a blanket.

If you can’t sit up straight without rounding your back, plant your butt on a folded blanket for seated poses. You could also use it to ease into exercises that challenge tight muscles. Using a blanket during pigeon pose, for example, will help you ease your hips into that stretch (read: you won’t squirm the entire time you hold it).

12. Notice the difference.

It is easier to stay interested in exercise if you are mindful of the differences it makes in your life. I love yoga class, because it wakes me up better than coffee. I’m mindful of my alignment, posture, and breathing patterns. I’m more confident in how I present myself. I’m less clumsy, self-conscious, and stressed out. Sound nice? Give yoga a try. I bet you’ll like it. Tell us your favorite things about yoga in the comments!

Featured photo credit: Sunset Yoga/Pierce Martin via flickr.com

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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