You wouldn't believe it, but when yoga found me I was very overweight, unhappy and unhealthy. I had no clue how to get from where I was to where I wanted to be. I started yoga hoping it would tone my arms, but what I found was a whole lot more. These are five of the top benefits that yoga helped me discover.
- Functional Movement
When I was desperate to lose weight, I'd often exercise like crazy. My favourite thing was to get on the machines in the gym that worked individual muscles. Later I learned that functional movement (using lots of muscles at the same time) is the most efficient way to exercise. Yoga does this perfectly. It uses most of your muscles and it works on making you stronger and more flexible.
- Mind/Body Connection
My biggest problem when I started yoga were the never ending cravings for sugar, pastries and cheese. I couldn't walk past a pastry shop without stopping in. When I began yoga however, I'd walk out of class feeling so good I didn't want to eat anything bad.
This might sound a little cheesy, but I think yoga helped me realise how precious my body is and that feeding it unhealthy food wasn't giving it what it deserved.
- Tapping into the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems
What are these long, medical jargon phrases referring to? Well your autonomic nervous system (parts you have little or no conscious control over) has two branches. One deals with fight or flight (sympathetic) and the other deals with your rest and repair (parasympathetic). The yoga I do taps into both. The good thing about using your sympathetic nervous system as you exercise, is you process stress hormones in a healthy way. Much better that being stressed on your emails and sitting in a chair. But the best part is yoga also helps you chill out, giving your cells chance to clean waste away and repair damage (parasympathetic). Learning strategies that can help you switch from one system to other is very valuable as we live in a very over stimulated society. So learning to switch off quickly and easily is essential for our health.
There are few activities on earth that ask you to really focus on your breathing the way yoga does. Because we are less active in modern life than we've been through our evolution, our breathing isn't always as efficient as it could be.
We even get lazy and only access certain lobes of the lungs more frequently than others. Because yoga encourages a deeper more focused breath it encourages use of full tidal volume. This helps to detoxify the body and it sends oxygen to your cells keeping your energy high.
- The Bigger Picture
Ultimately yoga also helped me see the bigger picture.
It's not just me on this planet and it's not only humans we share this beautiful space with. Everything is connected and taking care of the people, animals and planet is as important for the individual as it is for the collective. Yoga helped me realise that I need to be aware of where my food has come from. It taught me to be conscientious about waste and I learned to recycle. And I now only buy things if I really love them!
Thank you Celest x