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7 Reasons You Should Start Doing Yoga Immediately

7 Reasons You Should Start Doing Yoga Immediately

Yoga is an ancient practice with origins stretching back thousands of years in India. It is designed to help achieve a more positive outlook on life and a focused, permanent sense of serenity and peace. The word ‘yoga’ itself means ‘union’ and ‘union with the divine’; however, many people have stripped away the spirituality and focus of yoga so that most think of it as a group of intensely athletic people putting their legs behind their heads and curling up into jaw-dropping positions.

While that certainly happens–I’ve actually done the leg behind the head thing a few times, but only after years of careful stretches and practice–yoga has so much more to offer than flexibility and the idea of garnering a strong body. People of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities can do yoga and adapt it to suit their individual tastes and needs.

If you think yoga might not be for you, I urge you to reconsider. Here are seven of my top reasons why you should start doing yoga as soon as you can.

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1. It’s a great workout.

First of all and most obviously, yoga is a fantastic workout for your body. You can adapt the practices to your own speed and level of comfort. No matter which yoga exercises you choose, the practices will always be part of a great workout routine. There are some fantastic series of movements out there that are perfect for every kind of day and for every kind of person, meaning there’s no reason not to start doing some yoga as soon as you can.

2. It gets you in touch with your body.

Yoga stretches and exercises are designed around the idea of moving your body to increase its strength and durability. Therefore, doing yoga on a regular basis will really get you to be much more in tune with your body and know when something is really working and when it isn’t.

Of course, this isn’t always a good thing, as it can be discouraging when certain exercises aren’t working for your body the way they were the day before; however, it does have its benefits, and it makes improvements in your physical state that are much more pronounced and noticeable.

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3. It can help your breathing technique.

A big part of yoga is the breathing exercises–or the pranayama–which are incorporated into positions and then on their own. The exercises encourage a more focused and centered way of breathing, and while they might not be something you’ll do consciously every day, they’re absolutely sure to provide methods of effective stress-management and generally make you feel much better.

Plus, as someone with asthma, it really helps to open your lungs and explore what it means to breath consciously. Trust me: do those pranayamas for a few weeks, and you’ll feel the benefits.

4. It can improve your sleep.

Another minor but pleasant benefit is that doing yoga can actually help you get better sleep. This might be due to the fact that a few sequences of poses and movements are intended to be done right before sleep, but regardless, studies have shown that doing some light physical activity before our heads hit the hay can help us get off to sleep more quickly, which usually leads to a much better quality of sleep.

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It also might be due to the fact that if you have problems getting to sleep, working on problem-areas through yoga can help alleviate pain symptoms and increase the likelihood of better sleep. Another possibility is that most yoga sessions have a cool-down sequence at the end, which can definitely induce some easy slumber. As someone who’s fallen asleep in class many a time–to the point where my mat neighbor and I have a buddy system in case one of us starts snoring–believe me, this really works and should be done at home.

5. It will improve your posture.

Yoga is pretty effective at helping you develop some premium, proper posture, since a lot of the breathing and seated positions require a straight back for proper effect. Good posture is definitely going to develop during yoga practice.

You’ll start off slouching and slumped, reflecting the figure of someone who spends most of the day at their desk–believe me, I’ve been there–and yoga will help sculpt your back into the kind of poised posture that’ll make you walk taller and feel immensely better about it.

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6. It can develop your physical and mental strength.

Another side effect of yoga is that it will help you develop some truly incredible mental and physical strength. The whole point of yoga is to work on your body’s strength so that you can sit for longer in meditation, and the physical investment in the stretches and positions ensures that you’ll experience plenty of physical strength benefits as a result.

The breathing exercises can improve your lung capacity, and lunges and stretches can increase your core strength as well as every muscle you can think of; meanwhile, the exercises force you to focus on the moment, and during meditation, to clear your mind, which helps alleviate stress and improve your mental health.

7. Meditation can change your life for the better.

Meditation, meditation, meditation. It’s really the key to all things yoga. Even if you can do every kind of complicated pose under the sun, it loses all of its true meaning if it’s not done with focus and thought. Meditation has been shown time and time again to be a beneficial practice that everyone should implement into their daily routine.

Meditation isn’t necessarily sitting with a bowl of incense and working your way through a book of Tibetan chants in a darkened, candlelit room–rather, you can meditate anywhere quiet and at absolutely any time you like. All it takes is five minutes with some alone time and peace and quiet. Meditation improves your quality of life by allowing your mind some time to process everything that goes on in your life. It’s a hugely important and integral part of yoga practice and something that can really change your life, allowing you to embrace calmness and serenity with ease.

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

From Atkins to Paleo to eating gluten-free despite not being one of the rare few people afflicted with celiac disease, fad diets are everywhere. It drives me crazy because I believe these diets do more harm than good. Your body is made up of a variety of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, and losing weight healthily isn’t possible when you fill your body with unnecessary synthetic plastics, sugars, and powders. There’s no easy button in life.

What you need to do is exercise, which isn’t very appealing to many people. Workouts take work, so there’s already a stigma involved in going to the gym. Starting a healthy workout regimen becomes easier when you make it fun. If you want to live long and prosper, get off the couch and try these methods to turn your workout into a playout.

1. Take the scenic route.

Walking is an easy way to transition to a healthy lifestyle, and it’s free. Not only do you burn calories (check out this calculator for how many calories you burn based on your weight), but you see the world in a different way. Hiking in nature is great if you have access to it, but don’t let living in an urban area deter you from walking.

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Whenever I’m creatively stuck I get my head straight by walking a couple of miles. It’s also how I discover new paths, meet new people, and stumble upon hole-in-the-wall spots I never would have found otherwise. You could drive past the same place every day and never appreciate the beauty, nor even notice it’s there.

2. Distract yourself.

No matter what exercise routine you choose, use the time to meditate. You may wonder how marathon runners are able to put so many miles on their bodies. It’s because the pain from running that you avoid is something they’ve learned to harness to enter a transcendental state. If you’re aware of the benefits of meditation and exercise but don’t have time to do both, you can combine them, killing two birds with one healthy stone.

3. Listen to music or podcasts.

There are few experiences in life more pleasurable than turning up the music and drowning out the world around you. With so many podcasts and music apps available on your smartphone, you can easily find entertainment options perfectly suited to your personal tastes. Never worry what people may think of you when working out;instead, crank up the volume and get lost in your own world. You’ll be in shape before you know it.

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4. Bring a friend.

Some people can’t go anywhere alone. While I highly recommend dining out and seeing a movie in a theater alone, having company while exercising is very helpful. It allows you to pace yourself with someone else, and gives you a coach to motivate and push harder than you may have on your own.

Many exercises are safer when done with a friend, and some sports can only be played with another person. Involving others in your goals can mean the difference between success and failure. Just remember to continue exercising if the other person flakes, or they’ll be in control of your health.

5. Accessorize.

There are accessories that can make exercise easier, and sometimes buying a new toy can add some much-needed fun to your routine. With apps like RunKeeper and Nike+, your smartphone is capable of tracking your vitals and progress. Wrist weights can add a new dimension to your workout, and, if you exercise at night, a headlamp can help you see what’s in front of you so you don’t trip.

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For urban runners and power-walkers, one of the biggest obstacles is other people. It’s difficult to get in your meditative zone and enjoy your music when you constantly have to dodge people. To resolve this vexing issue, Runbell, a startup in Tokyo, has developed the runner’s version of the bicycle bell. With this lightweight brass bell warning people you’re approaching from behind, you’re free to maintain your transcendental state while continuing your workout. Head to their Kickstarter campaign to pledge your support.

6. Compete.

A little healthy competition can motivate you to push yourself further in your workout regimen. There are apps like Zombies, Run! which turns your run into a video game, and MyFitnessPal which allows you to connect with others in the exercise community. Whether you’re directly competing with a friend, an online community, or against your previous self, setting goals is the key to reaching them. Running with no destination can feel like an impossible task, and it’s easy to get distracted.

7. Relax.

The best part about exercising is how much you enjoy the downtime. If you think laying on your couch all day is enjoyable, it has nothing on that hour you spend as a couch potato after a rigorous workout. Jay-Z said it best, “in order to experience joy, you need pain.” The harder you push yourself while exercising, the better you’ll feel when you’re relaxing.

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With that said, don’t relax too much, or it loses the effect. It’s okay to indulge every so often. Treat yourself to some junk food you’re craving, imbibe a drink here and there, and spend a day vegging out on your couch. Staying healthy doesn’t have to be torture. Just turn down when you can and dedicate some time to better the health of your body. You only get one.

Featured photo credit: tpsdave via pixabay.com

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