Recently, Yoga Alliance (the organizations that registers yoga teachers) reported that 36.7 million Americans practice yoga on a regular basis, and the number of yogis continues to rise. What’s happening? Why do these devoted practitioners keep returning to their yoga mats?
For starters, yoga will make you more flexible, both physically and mentally. But there are many more reasons to practice. In fact, the more you practice, the longer the list will likely becomes. Here are seven great reasons to start practicing yoga today.
- Yoga is for everyone. Yes, it’s true that some classes are more physically challenging than others and not everyone can do every pose, but there is a yoga class and teacher for everybody. No matter how young, old, flexible, toned, or out of shape you are, if you can breathe, you can do yoga!
- You’ll learn to breathe better, which will increase the flow of oxygen throughout your body. As a result, you’ll soon find that you have a clearer mind, less anxiety, and more energy.
- Yoga will help you build muscle, which will boost your metabolism and keep you strong. This happens almost mysteriously for some people who don’t realize they are building strength in many yoga poses.
- Yoga might make you smarter! No, it won’t raise your IQ, but yoga helps you concentrate and stay in the moment, an ability that really comes in handy when you need to remember something or learn something new.
- Yoga can also change your brain chemistry. People who practice yoga regularly experience a boost in “feel-good” brain chemicals like serotonin that promote a feeling of well-being.
- You’ll meet wonderful people. The yoga community is filled with interesting, like-minded people who will not only share your interest in the practice itself but may also help support you in other aspects of your life.
- You’ll come closer to knowing the meaning of life. Okay, maybe this one is a stretch, but there is nothing like delving into the philosophy and practice of yoga for exploring life in all of its wonderfulness.
Where to Begin a Yoga Practice (or How to Keep Going)
Try different classes and teachers, both at local studios and online, until you find the right style for you. You’ll likely find that you enjoy more than one type or level of class, so be sure to try as many as possible. Some days you’ll want a gentle, quiet practice; other days you’ll feel like getting your power yoga on.
Remember, too, that you’ll get the most out of your yoga practice if you include breathing and meditation as well as some exploration of the history and philosophy of yoga. This could mean joining a yoga book group or attending yoga workshops or retreats. You might also join an online yoga community or subscribe to a magazine like Yoga Journal so you can keep in touch with other yogis and continue to learn about the yoga lifestyle. Another great idea is use an app like Track Yoga so you can practice at home whenever you like!