Why try yoga? Why take time out of your day to get on the floor and put your body in awkward positions? There are many ways that yoga can help you in your everyday life, and it’s not just about building flexibility. In fact, flexibility is only a small benefit that comes from regular yoga practice. Yoga can help you take a break from the craziness of life and can benefit you both mentally and physically. Here are several ways that yoga can enhance your life.
Yoga teaches you how to breathe. You might be saying to yourself, “I already know how to breathe, dummy,” and I’m sure you do. However, yoga teaches you how to breathe in a way you might not be familiar with. It focuses on deep, intentional breathing, expanding and contracting your lungs to their full capacity. This can release stress we did not even know we were carrying. Taking slow, deep breaths forces us to relax and slow down for a bit. This skill can help us in a lot of other areas. It can help us to relax when we are feeling stressed. It can help us keep a level head if we feel angry with someone. And it can help us remain calm when we are in bottom side control with a super-heavyweight trying to crush the life out of us. (Do yoga, and never tap to side control pressure again.)
Yoga teaches you how to be still. This can be so difficult in life, when there is always something to do, or something to be thinking about. I know it’s hard for me to just lay down and be still. However, it does wonders for my mental and emotional health to just practice being still for a while. I don’t always choose an intense workout, sometimes I just take time to relax and sink into some poses. I let myself forget about everything that’s going in my life for a minute and just be. When I can take the time to do this, I always feel a fresh energy and motivation moving forward in my day.
Yoga helps you learn to let go. We hold on to so much tension throughout the day. There is always something to be worried about or working on, and it can be hard to let go. When you set aside time to do yoga, you learn to let go of your worries for a few minutes. You learn how to release the tension in your muscles. You let go of the breath that is sitting deep in your lungs. You get to surrender the need to scroll through your phone constantly. You get to let go of everything else for a little while and just be present and enjoy the moment.
Yoga pushes you to go outside of your comfort zone. No matter your current yoga skill level, you will find positions that are difficult for you and new skills to be mastered. Your body might feel very awkward doing some poses at first. You might feel weird sitting in your living room on all fours, wiggling your butt in the air as you attempt to master “down dog”. However, as you push your body to bend and hold in new positions, you will start to see progress. You will feel a sense of accomplishment. You will start to become comfortable in positions that were once uncomfortable. You might even surprise yourself with some of the things your body can do.
Yoga can help you rehab injuries. Most of us have some nagging injuries from the daily wear and tear of training. Rather than ignoring or working around these injuries, it is important to move hurting joints and muscles in slow, controlled ways to keep the blood flowing and prevent them from stiffening up. The goal is to re-teach your muscles the proper way to function. Yoga can help you teach your muscles how to move and get your body working normally again, while avoiding hurting yourself further. Yoga For BJJ even has a rehab section taught by a certified osteopath. You can find body-specific exercises that target your problem spots and help get you back on your feet, so to speak.
Similarly, yoga can help prevent injuries. Doing some dynamic stretches before training can warm your body up, loosen your muscles, and make it more difficult for you to strain or pull them. For me personally, I am already flexible and end up in some pretty bendy positions in training. However, I still get tightness and imbalances in my body. If my muscles are tight, I can still get hurt. Practicing yoga every day helps me stay limber and keeps my whole body loose, not just certain muscles.
Yoga gets the blood flowing. Sometimes I wake up sluggish and have such a hard time getting my day started. If I can spend 30 minutes doing yoga in the morning, it always helps me feel better prepared for my day. It gets my blood flowing, clears my head, and gives me a burst of energy which makes me feel motivated to go get other things done. It can be a nice way to ease into my day and start with some physical activity that isn’t too intense. It can also be a very intense and tiring workout if that is what I need.
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