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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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Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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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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