Are you a yoga sceptic? You’re not alone. Yoga is quickly becoming the workout of choice for millions of Americans and individuals world wide but not without plenty of stigma from the church, as well as those who simply see it as strange. And let me tell you, that used to be me. I never liked yoga and had all my false presumptions. I am here to tell you that, not only do I practice yoga now, but I am a huge advocate of it and am a certified yoga instructor. I teach in the states and around the world because it has changed my life in more ways than one. In this particular article I will be focusing on discussing the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits of yoga but in a later article, we will be answering the question, “Can Christians do yoga?”. So here are 8 ways that yoga will improve your life.
1. Weight Loss and Weight Management.
Have you ever noticed that even with all the weight training and cardio you do, you can’t seem to let go of those last few pounds? If your body is always in the “fight-or-flight” mode and constantly on overdrive and stressed you produce hormones, such as cortisol, that hold onto your fat. Sometimes when you feel like you need to go on a run, what you really need is to physically, mentally and emotionally calm your whole body down. Yoga is the key to losing those few extra pounds of “stress weight”. You will notice your body changing in ways that you never knew would happen just by learning the calming breathing techniques, the gentler movements and making time for you.
2. Stress Relief And Improved Sleep
We now live in a world where technology is taking over and people are working harder with more expectations loaded on them than ever before. We constantly have things to do, people to meet, engagements to attend, and kids to take care of. It’s a lot of work trying to be “superman” or “superwomen”
For me this hits on a personal note. A few years ago, not even knowing I was overly stressed out, the constantly on-the-go life I lived finally caught up to me. My physical, mental and emotional body couldn’t take it anymore and broke down. I actually got to a place where I lost all the estrogen in my body. Crazy right? I was confused since I didn’t know I was stressed. I can tell you that through yoga, learning to be still and relax, my body finally got the healing it needed.
When you begin to practice yoga you will become aware of your body, learn breathing techniques that calm your mind, get oxygen fully to your brain, and relax your body. Yoga postures and stretches bring you to a calmness that you cannot get from a run or lifting weights at the gym. You will finally start taking good care of yourself. You will learn how to meditate, but not in the strange, “connect with the earth” sort of way. Instead you will learn how to refocus and meditate on God. Joshua 1:8 “Study His word of instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do” It is so good and so powerful to be still and allow your mind to not wander but really meditate on God.
3. Increased Strength
Most people want to have increased strength. Through balancing and strengthening postures yoga increases your overall strength. It requires you to use each limb and motion as a whole to keep your balance. Your body is fully connected and you were made to use it all together in order to build the strength and endurance your body needs.Without a firm foundation you will always fall. Even while physically going through yoga poses, if you do not have a sense of balance and are not physically firmly rooted to the ground (like a tree) then you will fall. I used to think that I would lose all my strength through yoga, and it has instead made me stronger than I’ve ever been and I have also lengthened my muscles in a way that I never could before.
Not only does yoga strengthen your physical balance, but your emotional and spiritual balance as well. This has been one of the most important lessons I have learned though yoga. Imbalances create a chaotic life. Proverbs 11:1 says, ”A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight.” All things in life begin to flourish when you are a balanced individual. I am sure you have been in situations where you have felt stressed, maybe wacky hormones, brain can’t stop thinking, you worry about when you are going to get your next check to pay your bill, you either work too much, don’t work at all or sleep too little. Without balance in each area of your life, you continue to struggle or just “make it by” when through a whole new perspective you can change your life and thrive.
5. Increased Overall Energy, mental clarity and brain fitness
If you naturally are someone who exercises, I am sure that you notice an increase in your energy levels. Just by getting your body moving on an everyday basis and getting active will improve performance. The movements that yoga takes you through such as balancing postures, twists, core engagements and proper breathing will revitalize and rejuvenate your body in more ways than one.
6.Therapy- Nowadays there are so many disorders and diseases, especially in America. Doctors are now prescribing yoga as a form of therapy for anything and everything. A few include: Lyme Disease, Lupus, MS, Infertility, Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia, Bipolar Disorder, Down Syndrome, Gout, OCD, Parkinsons, Post Traumatic Stress, Rotator Cuff Injury, Snoring, Vertigo.
7. Improved Hormonal Balance (especially important in cases of breast cancer, infertility and prenatal conditioning). Yoga brings hormonal balance to the immune system, nervous system, digestive, respiratory, endocrine, lymphatic, skeletal, and circulatory systems. This, once again, goes to show that when you are out of balance, everything is “off” Your physical body will not function right when you don’t allow your systems to work together. I am still working on my hormonal balance since I lost all the estrogen in me. You don’t want something like that to happen to you.
8. Whole Body Detoxification- There are three main systems of the body that play a crucial role in the elimination of wastes — circulatory, digestive and lymph.
Yoga includes stretching, strengthening, twisting, and breathing in ways that get into glands, muscles, tissues and blood like nothing else can.
As you can see, yoga may not be what you thought that it was. Everything you do is what you make it. You are the one who is exercising or practicing yoga and you get to be the creator of what it looks like. You can worship yourself or other things while you lift weights at the gym just like you can on a yoga mat. If you allow yourself to worship other things, then that is your choice. If you allow yourself to see your body as a WHOLE, in the good way, that God designed it, then that is your choice. Learn to love yourself, learn to love God, learn to let go and challenge yourself in a new way. This is what I have learned to do and I hope you can too. Mark 12:30 says, ” Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” I can tell you that there is no other exercise that you are able to know your body in a way that is all connected physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually- as a WHOLE person, the way we were designed to be, than you do through yoga.