Like many of us, I've adopted new methods for exercising at home recently.
Since the gyms are closed and I won't feel comfortable going to one even when they open right away (everyone sharing the same limited space and touching the same equipment? No thanks!), I've had to get a little more creative with how I get myself moving.
Now, I've practiced yoga on and off for around 5 years now. I get super into it, then my passion just sort of fizzles out as life gets busy and I can't find the time to get back to the mat.
I used quarantine as an excuse to fully commit to yoga. I found a 30-day challenge and stuck it through to the end. The one I chose was Yoga with Adriene's 30-day challenge. I just did the original, not the Home or other versions. If you decide to try a yoga challenge, I highly recommend Adriene, as she makes it fun and advances in a way that makes it easier to follow.
This journey offered me so many benefits, so keep reading to learn about them!
The Benefits I Felt from Yoga
Yoga is a great way to get off the couch and move your body, but there are way more benefits than you may realize.
Here are some I noticed:
Increased Upper-Body Strength
I've always kind of had noodle arms. I don't like doing push-ups, I can't do pull-ups, and I don't enjoy lifting weights that much. Because of this, my arms have always been my weakest part of my body.
When I first started doing yoga, I had the hardest time holding a plank and a downward-dog position. My arms would start burning in seconds! The more I stuck with it and practiced every day, the stronger my arms got. Not only are my arms more capable now, but I'm starting to notice some definition I didn't before.
2. Fewer Body Aches
I've had chronic pain in my body for as long as I can remember. It mostly sits in my neck and shoulder area. When I was younger my body aches bothered me but they didn't make me incapable of doing daily activities.
As I stopped exercising and stretching as much, I noticed my body aches were starting to take over my life. I couldn't sit at my desk and work as I'd get horrible migraines, I couldn't bike, and I couldn't even do strength training without injuring myself. I would wake up in the morning with extremely limited mobility of my upper half.
After a couple of weeks of doing yoga, these pains were much less often. I felt more flexible, less tight in the neck and shoulders, and more capable of completing my daily activities. I am not completely rid of my aches, but yoga has definitely made a difference.
3. Better Mood
I was starting to get in a really negative headspace once the reality of the quarantine and pandemic really set in. I felt unmotivated, I was binge eating and hardly moving from the couch, and was just complaining constantly.
Now, any kind of exercise can help you break this cycle. For me, that was yoga. Not only did yoga make my body feel great, but I noticed that having that time to relax and reflect on my day and behavior really motivated me to be more positive. I felt more relaxed and optimistic after taking even 5 minutes each day to regroup, stretch, and forget the negativity.
4. Weight Loss
Now, I don't know if this one is from the yoga itself or the positive life changes I felt motivated to make after starting. I lost a few pounds, felt like my clothes fit tighter, and felt better in my skin after doing yoga for a couple of weeks.
I think it's important to note that I don't exercise to lose weight or try to lose weight when I exercise. If I'm at a healthy weight I focus on the mental aspects of exercise as well as the other benefits that eating a healthy diet can offer. So, I don't mention losing weight alone as a benefit but changing the habits that helped me maintain a healthy weight, because the track I was on was only offering negativity to my life and my health.
5. Long-Term Healthy Habits
If you're like me, you need to love something to keep doing it. I know a lot of people can make time in their schedule and just do random things for exercise, however, I don't work that way. I need to pick up a hobby and keep improving over time. This is why yoga was perfect for me.
I was excited to be challenged each day and to see how much easier the poses were becoming. Being able to stretch further or hold a pose for longer than you could the day before were huge motivators! I believe the key to living a healthy life is to find things you love that are healthy and make them a habit.
That's how yoga made me feel.
I learned so much about myself physically, mentally, and emotionally while doing the 30-day yoga challenge. I've found a hobby that I'm willing and excited to fit into my day each day.
So, would I recommend trying yoga? Absolutely! You may find a new hobby you want to pursue every day or you may just find a relaxing practice to lean on in times of stress.
Either way, the journey is one you won't regret going on.