Each September, National Yoga Awareness Month is dedicated to raising awareness around the practice of yoga and its significant health and wellness benefits.
In addition to the many physical gains you can achieve by practicing yoga, it also includes a wide range of contemplative and self-disciplinary applications, such as meditation, breath work, and self-introspection that can up your game when it comes to overall wellness.
The word “yoga” comes from the root word “yuj,” which means “to yoke” or “to bind.” The word itself has numerous meanings, from astrological conjunction to matrimony, with the underlying theme being connection – something we can all use a little more of!
Nearly 37 million Americans practice yoga, and experience increases in physical health, emotional resilience, mental clarity, and spiritual connection.
8 Benefits of Practicing Yoga
Increased Muscle Strength
Many of the postures in yoga, such as chair pose, Warrior III, and Boat Pose qualify as isometric exercises, in that you’re holding a muscle contraction in a fixed position for a period of time without changing the length of the muscle.
Practices such as Iyengar include incredibly long holds, and effectively challenge the body and build muscle. Faster-paced classes such as Vinyasa and Ashtanga don’t hold poses as long, but can be very rigorous and include a cardio element.
Increased Flexibility and Mobility
Yoga facilitates flexibility of the major muscle groups, joints, and tissues and can result in improved posture, increased range of motion, and less pain.
Increased Bone Density
Weight-bearing exercises improve the density of your bones as you age. Poses like Plank or Warrior strengthen our bones that are particularly vulnerable to osteoporosis can help us avoid bone loss in those areas as we age.
Yoga helps to increase mental and physical energy. Many feel a boost in alertness and enthusiasm, and fewer negative feelings after getting into a routine of practicing yoga.
Improved Circulation and Blood Flow
We typically don’t find ourselves upside-down during everyday activities or workouts, but being inverted has many benefits. When blood flows from the legs and pelvis and then gets pumped back to the heart, it gets an extra dose of oxygen from the respiratory function of the lungs, giving the body a “refresh.”
Yoga includes inversions such as Standing Forward Fold, Downward Dog, and even Handstands. Getting more inversions in your life is a great thing!
Improved Metabolism and Digestion
The physical practice of yoga asana was initially designed for purification purposes, or to “stoke the digestive fires.”
Twists are also believed to stimulate and aid in the digestive process and to help get things moving in and out of the body.
A well-rounded yoga asana practice revives, renews, and refreshes your mind, body, and spirit bringing prana (otherwise known as life-force energy) to your body.
While you may feel supremely relaxed after a yoga class, a consistent practice continues to gift you a new sense of vitality to your life off the mat.
Savasana, or Corpse Pose, is always performed at the end of every practice, encouraging rest and supporting us in the process of surrender.
Have trouble sleeping? Legs Up the Wall Pose or Supported Savasana are perfect poses to practice before bed to help induce sleep.
How can you participate in National Yoga Awareness Month?
Try Yoga! Grab a friend and sign up for a class. See for yourself what it’s all about.
Already Tried it? Check Out Another Style! There are so many styles of yoga from Hatha to Ashtanga to Iyengar … it can be a bit overwhelming! Talk to the instructors at VIDA for insights on which may be best for you. Get outside of your comfort zone and try something new!
Already Love It? Deepen Your Practice or Become an Instructor! VIDA’s Yoga Teacher Training is led by Chris Parkison, Julia Romano, and Christine Kontra this winter. It is designed for both aspiring teachers and those just looking to deepen their knowledge of yoga. Learn more about how you can enrich and enliven your life with the upcoming training.