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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 May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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