We are all pretty aware of the general gist of what yoga is, what it can do, and the physical benefits we can gain from starting our practice, and maintaining it. Theres increased flexibility, stronger muscles, a little detoxification if there’s sweat involved, and maybe a little help in the mindfulness department.
But what are the benefits that no one really talks about?
1. Your feet (and toes!) get really strong
Yup…like one day you’ll be lying on the couch and casually grab the remote and change the channel with your toes kinda stuff (I realise some people have been gifted with this ability without the help of a yoga practice but I speak to the majority of none gifted toe peeps!)
All the balancing on one foot, spreading of toes and even distribution of body weight in Warrior poses, point the toes, flex the feet, creates some pretty freakin strong feet! And not just the feet, anything attached – toes, ankles, heels, you get the point.
So get pumped guys! Strong feet and perhaps a new party trick to look forward to!
2. Heightened Body Awareness
This. I have to say one of my fave parts about this practice is developing and ‘x-men’ like power where you feel like you can feel everything in and about your body. It is really cool. During a regular yoga class, you get to move, stretch, and hold your body in positions it’s probably never been in before – this forces your mind to get in on the action and help you out – thus the union of mind and body.
This union creates the most amazing awareness of what is happening inside of us, you really start to notice whats working and perhaps whats not. And so the journey of self discovery – or re-discovery begins!
3. You Start Eating Better
It’s true…when you start going to classes on a regular basis, that ol’ body awareness kicks in and if you have a junk week, or even a junk day, too much alcohol, too much coffee, too much water..(ha!)… yoga has this amazing way of slapping you in the face with that double cheeseburger you had for lunch.
The reality is, once you start to feel your body with awareness, you start wanting to feed it the right stuff, so it keeps feeling good, it’s that simple!
4. It Makes You into a Badass
How you ask? Well for starters, you are holding poses for 30 seconds up to a minute – sometimes, and some of these poses are gravity defying. Some defy logic, and some you get into and can’t believe you got there! Meanwhile your teacher is instructing you to focus your breath, and relax your face. So from the outside you look like a serene lotus flower floating blissfully in a Japanese pond.
On the inside?
You are pushing your willpower to a place it’s never been. The pain you feel in your muscles is to the point where you can no longer feel limbs anymore. You’re on one foot, upside down, inside out, twisted untwisted and twisted again. All you want to do is get out, but you stay with it. And from the outside – no one can see a thing.
That my friend makes you a badass… (tip: it’s a great transferable skill off the mat too!)
5. Your Practice is a Reflection of your Life
What does this mean exactly? Let me explain. The more you practice, the more challenges you face on the mat, the more you start to realise that, your experience in that moment, how you choose to: think, act, feel, move, are all a reflection of the way you do all these things out in the real world. Your yoga practice becomes like a mirror – holding up, what’s up, in your life. It shows you with brutal honesty how you’re really dealing with things that are going on.
There have been classes where I have been a nanosecond away from throwing my block at the teacher – “what do you mean hold it for another 5 breaths! I’m dying!”
No…you’re not dying, you’re throwing a tantrum…in your head. You start to realise you’re having similar reactions in your day-to-day life, traffic, relationships, things going well, things going not so well. Yoga has a very sneaky way of showing you – ‘if you’re freaking out about holing this chair pose for another 5 breaths, how are gonna deal with it all out there!’
When this realisation finally lands, it becomes one of the greatest teachers you will ever meet.