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Yoga is one of the best things that you can do for your body. I had been dabbling with yoga for a few years, but only recently had I really gotten into it. In the span of just a few weeks, both my mind and body were experiencing benefits that I didn’t think were even possible. 

There is a reason I’m telling you about my experience with yoga. Sometimes, life can be very overwhelming. You might feel like life is throwing many things at you, all at once. This happened to me. I was unable to balance work and my health.

I prioritized work over my health, so I started to neglect it. Slowly, some things started to change. Soon, I realized that I didn’t look the same way I did last year, and I surely wasn’t able to do many of the things that I previously did. 

The change did not happen overnight. To be honest, I didn’t even notice any of it happening. But when the realization hit me, it hit me like a rock. I wanted to change, but I didn’t know what to do. 

After desperately searching for a solution for a few weeks, I had almost given up. But that’s when I found yoga, and it changed my life.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because, like you, I had taken control over most aspects of my life, but I was struggling to maintain control over my health. Despite having quite a busy life, I managed to incorporate yoga into my life. Within weeks, I took control of my health and learnt how to maintain a healthy work-life balance.    

Depending on who you ask, the reason they practice yoga is vastly different. For most, it’s a way to make their bodies feel good. For others, it’s a spiritual practice. But if you were to ask me why I do it, I would say that it helps me get away from everything and just relax. I would define it as a vacation from your busy work life

The biggest misconception that I had about yoga is that it’s just another name for stretching and breathing exercises. 

When I learned more about yoga, I realized that I wasn’t entirely wrong. Yoga does involve a lot of stretching and breathing, but it’s so much more than that. Let me tell you everything that yoga can do for you.

First, Let’s Have A Look At The Benefits Of Doing Yoga

What you need to understand about yoga is that it is unlike most workouts and exercise routines. While most exercises focus on a specific part of your body, yoga engages your entire body, all at once. 

It is the complete package. 

Yoga has wide-ranging benefits for your body, but it is also extremely beneficial for your mind. And no, I don’t mean spiritually. 

It requires serious mental effort to hold a yoga pose correctly and maintain your balance. By exerting a great amount of mental focus to a particular yoga pose, you will be able to take your mind’s attention from everything else that is worrying you.

The Physical Benefits (Backed By Research)

Yoga has several mental benefits too, but we’ll get to that after covering its physical benefits. The physical benefits of practicing yoga regularly will blow your mind. It will do for you what no diet or workout routine has done before and much more. 

Be consistent with your efforts, and within weeks, you will feel up to a decade younger.

Improves Flexibility and Balance

Thousands of people have added yoga to their fitness routines to improve flexibility and balance. There has to be a reason for that, right?

Yes, absolutely! There is substantial research that backs up the use of specific yoga poses to target flexibility and balance. 

A study has found that practicing yoga for just 15-20 minutes each day can improve balance and mobility in older adults as well (1).

Another study conducted with elderly participants found that the group who did yoga saw a four-fold increase in flexibility compared to other groups, which did other types of exercises (2). 

Helps Improve Respiration and Vitality 

Remember how I mentioned earlier that I thought yoga is just stretching and breathing exercises bundled together? The above point clearly explains how the “stretching” in yoga is much more than what it sounds like. Here’s the “breathing” part of yoga explained.

In yoga, Pranayama or yogic breathing is the practice that focuses on controlling your breath through various breathing techniques. 

Several studies have shown that these practices have the potential to significantly improve your vital capacity. Vital capacity is the measure of the maximum amount of air that can be expelled from your lungs. 

Why do you need to care about your vital capacity? That’s easy. Having a low vital capacity is the number one factor that causes heart problems, lung diseases, and asthma. 

Regularly practicing yogic breathing techniques has been shown to help your body build endurance to various health conditions by keeping your heart and lungs healthy. 

A 15-week study conducted with a group of college students taught them basic yoga poses and breathing exercises. After the study’s duration, they all saw a significant increase in vital capacity (3).

Studies have also shown that the practice of yogic breathing techniques has improved symptoms and lung function in patients with mild-to-moderate asthma (4).

Increased Strength, Toned Muscles and Weight Loss

Now you already know that it can make your body more flexible, but did you know that it can also make you stronger? 

Yes, in addition to improving flexibility, several yoga poses have been specifically designed to increase strength and get toned muscles.

In one study, a group of adults performed 24 cycles of Surya Namaskars or Sun Salutations – six days a week, for a period of 24 weeks. Sun salutations are a basic foundational yoga exercise that are often used for warm-up. They’re so easy that anyone can do them. 

At the end of the study, all participants had experienced a significant increase in weight loss, upper body strength, and endurance. The women saw a considerable decrease in body fat percentage as well (5).   

The key here is consistency. If you practice yoga regularly for a few weeks, you are guaranteed to see motivating results.  

Maintain a Balanced Metabolism

Yoga places a significant emphasis on mindfulness. This concept encourages one to be present in the moment during everything you do during your day. 

One of the concepts of mindfulness is known as mindful eating or intuitive eating. The idea behind mindful eating is to pay attention to the taste, smell, and texture of your food and notice any thoughts, feelings, or sensations that you experience while eating. 

At first, I couldn’t understand how this practice could help me in any way. 

But the practice of being conscious of your sensations while eating has been shown to promote numerous healthy eating habits. It can help you control blood sugar, increase weight loss, and treat eating disorders (6). 

We’re all way too familiar with binge eating, a disorder that is characterized by compulsive overeating and feeling a loss of control. 

Yoga has also been shown to decrease binge eating episodes and increase physical activity (7). If you have unhealthy eating habits, practicing mindfulness through yoga can help develop healthier eating habits.

Reduce Inflammation and Improve Heart Health

Inflammation is your body’s natural immune response to an irritant. However, chronic inflammation could lead to the development of pro-inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. 

A study was conducted with two groups of adults: one practiced yoga, and the other didn’t. Both groups were instructed to perform moderate and strenuous exercises. This was done to see how their bodies react to stress. At the end of the study, the group that practiced yoga had lower inflammatory markers levels than those who didn’t (8). 

Yoga also has a positive effect on your heart’s health, which is one of the best indicators of overall health. Several studies in the past have pointed to the health benefits of yoga for your heart. Yoga is one of the best workouts for you if you have high blood pressure. 

A study was conducted with participants over 40 years of age. All the participants who had practiced yoga for five years had lower blood pressure and pulse rate than those who didn’t (9). 

High blood pressure is the single greatest factor that causes heart problems such as heart attacks and stroke. Lowering your blood pressure can lower the risk of these health problems, and yoga can help with that. 

Although more research is needed to confirm the health benefits of yoga on inflammation, one thing is certain: yoga can significantly reduce stress, which is one of the most common causes that contribute to heart disease. 

The Benefits of Doing Yoga on Your Mental Health

The positive effects that yoga can have on your mind are often overlooked. I, too, when I first started doing yoga, only did it for its physical benefits. For me, yoga’s positive effects on my mental health were just an added bonus. They weren’t as important as losing weight and getting in shape.

But if you ask me today, I’d say that yoga’s effect on your mental health is just as important as its effect on your body. I have been practicing yoga for a while now, and the best thing it’s done for me is helping me maintain a perfect work-life balance. 

Yoga has not only helped me lose weight and become healthier, but it has also made me more productive at work. Now I want to share with you some of the mental health benefits that I experienced practicing yoga.

Alleviate Stress

One of the first things that you think of when you hear the word “yoga” might be “decreasing stress.” That’s because yoga is known all around the world for its ability to decrease stress and promote relaxation. 

Have you ever wondered why particular situations make you feel stressed? This is because, when your body senses any danger, it releases a hormone called cortisol, also known as the stress hormone.

The result of a high level of cortisol in your blood is an increase in heart rate and energy. This is a part of your body’s natural fight or flight response. But that doesn’t sound too bad, right?

A momentary increase in cortisol is not too bad for your body, but having high cortisol levels for a prolonged period can have severe negative side effects. 

Having too much cortisol for an extended duration of time can lead to a condition called Cushing’s syndrome (10). Here are some of the symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome:

  • Rapid weight gain in the face, chest, and abdomen
  • Osteoporosis (weak and brittle bones)
  • High blood pressure
  • Bruises and purple stretch marks
  • Mood swings or irritability
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Muscle weakness

So, if you’re stressed all the time, you need to do something about it. Otherwise, you may face severe negative long-term consequences. 

Fortunately, numerous studies have shown that yoga has the potential to decrease the secretion of cortisol. One study found that women who participated in a three-month yoga program had significantly lower cortisol levels than those who didn’t (11). 

These women also had lower levels of stress, anxiety, fatigue, and depression. 

If you’re having trouble managing your health and your busy work schedule, I strongly suggest that you give yoga a shot. It has helped me beyond belief, and I’m sure it will help you too.

Relieve Anxiety

The reason many people practice yoga to cope with anxiety is that there is substantial research that shows that yoga can actually help reduce anxiety

In one study, women diagnosed with an anxiety disorder were asked to participate in yoga classes twice a week for two months. At the end of the specified duration, it was found that women who practiced yoga had significantly lower levels of anxiety than those who didn’t (12). 

Even if you practice yoga just once a week, it has been shown to reduce PTSD symptoms, and in some cases, the people who did yoga no longer met the criteria for PTSD at all

Yoga essentially teaches you how to be present in the moment and find a sense of peace, which is the most important factor that could help treat anxiety. 

Fight Depression 

So, we know that stress is caused due to the secretion of a hormone known as cortisol. Similarly, depression is caused due to the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is often associated with depression.

Studies have shown that yoga may have an anti-depressant effect and help ease the symptoms of depression.

One study had people diagnosed with depression practice yoga for a period of two weeks. After this, the participants showed fewer symptoms of depression and lower levels of cortisol (13).    

Other studies have also shown similar associations between practicing yoga and decreased symptoms of depression. The takeaway from these results is that yoga is an effective method to help fight depression, and it is used in combination with traditional treatment methods. 

7 Yoga Poses That Every Beginner NEEDS To Know

Alright! Now that you know all the benefits of practicing yoga, why wait around and waste more time? We’ve got 7 beginner yoga poses for you that will help you get started on your yoga journey right away!

Before you start, remember that this a complete yoga workout, and it is important to move slowly through each pose. Always remember to breathe as you move, hold each position for a few seconds, and pay close attention to your breathing. If you are out of breath, pause, and continue again when your breathing returns to normal. Let’s begin.

1. Child’s Pose

This is a relaxing pose is something that you can do to rest and refocus. It gently stretches your thighs, back, hips, and ankles. After holding this pose for a few seconds, your spine, shoulders, and neck will feel relaxed.

Why you should do it: You want a gentle, relaxing stretch through your neck, spine, and hips.

Don’t do it: Avoid doing this pose if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, or have knee and ankle problems. 

Yoga tip: Try to focus on how the muscles in your lower back relax as you exhale.

2. Downward-Facing Dog

You might have already heard about this pose. It is one of the most common yoga poses. Doing it can help you stretch your arms, shoulders, and back while stretching hamstrings and calves. 

Why you should do it: If you sit at a desk all day and have back pain due to it, this pose can help you relieve that pain.

Don’t do it: If you have any wrist problems or high blood pressure, avoid doing this pose. This pose is also not recommended for women in the late stages of pregnancy. 

Yoga tip: Try to distribute your body weight evenly through your palms and lift your hips away from your shoulders. 

3. Plank Pose

Adaptations of this pose can be seen in various workout routines, but it has its origins in yoga. It primarily builds strength in your core, but it is also good for your shoulders, arms, and legs. Do this pose regularly, and you will have toned abs in no time. 

Why you should do it: You want to get toned abs and build upper body strength.

Don’t do it: Avoid this pose if you have lower back pain or suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Yoga tip: Be mindful of your body’s alignment when you do this pose. Make sure that your neck, spine, and legs are in a straight line.

4. Cobra Pose

This pose can stretch out your spine, chest, abdomen, and your upper and lower back muscles. It is one of the best yoga poses to increase your flexibility. 

Why you should do it: Do this pose if you want to strengthen your back and increase flexibility.  

Don’t do it: If you have arthritis or a lower back injury.

Yoga tip: As you hold this pose, draw your navel up and away from the floor. 

5. Tree Pose

The Tree Pose is a balancing pose that is one of the most effective poses. When you try to do this pose, you will realize that your entire body is working hard to help you maintain balance. 

Why you should do it: To increase flexibility, improve balance, and posture. 

Don’t do it: If you have low blood pressure, avoid doing this pose.

Yoga tip: Pay close attention to the changes in your breathing when you hold this pose. 

6. Triangle Pose

This pose strengthens your hamstrings, calves, and core. It also stretches your hips, spine, chest, and shoulders. Not only does this pose increase your mobility, but it is essentially a full-body workout.

Why you should do it: You want to build strength, endurance, and increase mobility.

Don’t do it: Avoid this pose if you have a headache, or have low blood pressure. 

Yoga tip: If you are unable to maintain balance in this pose, raise your lifted arm upwards toward the ceiling. This will keep the pose buoyant and help you stay balanced.

7. Corpse Pose

This pose may not look difficult, but it is one of the most important yoga poses. The reason most yoga classes end with this pose is that it allows you for a moment of deep relaxation. 

All you have to do in this pose is lie down without movement, yet most people find it challenging to stay in this pose for more than a few minutes at a time. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Why you should do it: It helps you sink into a deep state of relaxation, away from all the troubles in your life.

Don’t do it: There is no reason not to do this pose. Ideally, all your yoga sessions should end with this pose. 

Yoga tip: Try to focus on how your weight is distributed across your body, and feel your body slowly sink into the yoga mat. 

That was the complete yoga workout for beginners, and these are the only yoga poses that you need to know as a beginner. If you have just started your yoga journey or are thinking about getting started, this is the perfect yoga workout for you. 

That’s all, y’all! I hope you liked this post. I just want to end this with a reminder that the hardest part of practicing yoga is getting started. All the good things that follow are part of its natural flow. So, make sure that you try out these yoga poses today and live your best life!

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