If you’re a San Diegan like me, you’ve gotten used to being surrounded by hundreds of yoga mat toting, mala bed wearing, lulu lemon clad men and women. But you may be asking yourself, “What’s the big deal? Why are all these people obsessed with yoga?” Part of it is simply a fad. That’s what people in San Diego do. Stereotypically, of course. If we go along that same path, we also eat In-n-Out, surf, and constantly balance our love for fitness and alcohol.
But what’s the real reason to love practicing yoga – especially in San Diego? The part that matters is the true, inherent history of yoga. Yoga was not made to please the masses. It was not made to be hastily crammed into your busy schedule. Nor was as a medium to “fit in” to the crowd. By all means, I don’t mean to undermine those who do enjoy yoga for these reasons – but I’m here to tell you that there is more to yoga than simply looking and appearing the part.
Yoga, originally a Hindu spiritual practice, was intended to balance energy, to be in tune with your body, to align your mind, your breath, and your physical being, to meditate, and to be one with the body you inhabit. Yoga is a practice. It’s a vessel of self exploration – and furthermore, a beautiful journey of self realization and transformation.
Physical Benefits of Yoga
This, by far is the most common fruit of a devoted yoga practice. Flexibility. By understanding reasonable means of stretching and the capabilities of your physical body, you are able to increase your flexibility. As a yoga practice progresses, the body becomes more apt to the movements and poses, allowing you to delve deeper into the postures.
- Improves Circulatory Health + Blood Flow
Of course, any physical activity promotes circulation. However, yoga especially, through different postures is able to promote circulation through various parts of the body that may not be normally activated through other forms of exercise.
- Improves Digestion
Activating certain muscles through twists and core stabilizing postures helps to promote healthy organ functions. These movements and postures help to promote detoxification in the digestive track and core based organs.
- Boosts Metabolism
By improving both circulatory health and digestion, the body in turn is able to translate this productivity in a positive way. This translation of activity boosts the metabolic rate, just as any consistent physical activity would.
- Improved Breathing/Respiration and Energy Levels
In yoga, breath is one of the utmost important qualities you must be aware of. In yoga, you become more aware of your breath, and move into postures and a mindset that allow you to breath actively and properly. Pranayama, a practice within yoga is the practice of regulating the breath through exercises and activity.
- Increased Muscle Tone
With your body moving and adjusting to different postures, you may begin to notice that commonly ignored parts of the body are also being activated. Through these stretching and strength based exercises and movements, muscles begin to strengthen and tone to adjust for your next practice.
Mental + Spiritual Benefits of Yoga
- Increased Awareness and Mental Well-Being
In a yoga practice, one is often able to relax the mind while rejuvenating the body. In most cases, students are asked to leave their stresses at the door. This is so they may fully be present and active in their yoga practice. They are concentrating on only the body, the breath, and the self. Consistent practice promotes this lifestyle and mindset, helping to cleanse the mind of clutter and stress, and be more aware of the self and your mental health.
- Helps Boost Memory and Concentration
In yoga, an individual must focus on postures and use their entire body to stay in these postures. Both mental and muscle memory is built to retain how to come in and out of these postures. As for concentration, yoga is constantly exercising the body and the mind, and one has to concentrate often in order to achieve the true expression of the posture itself.
- Can Reduce Anxiety and Ease Depression
Many yoga practices are designed to relax the mind, destress the body, and be present and active in both physical and mental achievements. A yoga practice is a great way to regulate hindering feelings of anxiety and depression without medication. It works to lower blood pressure and ease the mind.
- Promotes Self-Exploration and Growth
A yoga practice allows the individual to become aware of their physical self. This awareness goes hand in hand with discovering the spiritual self, as the individual begins to reveal capabilities that they’ve never known they could accomplish. To practice breath and to practice yoga is to truly be present in the body, which will then tap into being present in the mind. The possibilities are endless!
So why should you do yoga? It’s up to you! But if you’re looking for a reason, here’s a great one. Because you want to be in tune with your mind and body, be in touch with your physical self, and promote a healthy, present, and enlightened lifestyle.