3 Reasons Why Yoga is for Everyone
I wish I had a dollar for every time someone told me they can’t do yoga because they can’t even touch their toes.
*Spoiler alert!* Being able to touch your toes is not a requirement to do yoga.
In fact, there are no requirements at all. All you really need is a little bit of space and an open mind. And those things aren’t even totally necessary either. The open mind part comes with practice, and wherever your body is physically taking up space is a enough.
I think it’s super easy to get caught up in the physical postures and positions you see in yoga. The crazy upside-down, pretzel looking poses you see can be very intimidating and discouraging.
Or on the flip-side, people assume yoga is boring, or not worth the time because it’s too slow to count as a workout.
Or they think they need to look a certain way to do yoga. Be a certain age, gender, skin color, size, etc.
OR they get turned off by the chanting, Sanskrit’s, and “new-age” stuff.
All the reasons listed above were all reasons why I wasn’t interested at first. But after my first few experiences, I was loving the way it made me feel. And it was fun! Before long, I was hooked.
People have all sorts of reasons for not practicing yoga, but it’s my hope to help people see that yoga can be whatever you want it to be, wherever you want it to, however you want it to be, for as long as you want it to be.
I know some people say “yoga isn’t for me.” And I respect that, I really do. But still I believe yoga is for everyone. :) Because the benefits are incredible that you just can’t get from anything else. Whether you are a busy schoolteacher, a serious business man, a hyperactive child, or a buff weightlifter, yoga is for you. And the reason I say that is because it targets 3 main areas of health and wellness- physical, mental, and spiritual health. Who doesn’t want improvement in those areas?
Ok, let me just say this now. Yoga does not have to be an hour long session, with chanting, tight pants, meditation pillows, and handstands in an intimidating yoga studio.
Yoga can be the few stretches you do in the morning to wake your body up. Yoga can be one, maybe two if you’re feeling wild, deep breaths while sitting at your desk. Yoga can be taking a moment to appreciate the sunset on your drive home from work. Because at the end of the day, yoga is just about being more mindful and intentional in what you do.
Everyone can benefit from those things.
But basically, for me, yoga is the best thing ever because of the combination of the practical physical, mental, and spiritual benefits you get. The best part is you can knock them all out at once! Which is why they are the 3 reasons why yoga is for everyone.
Newsflash- We all gotta stretch. I know it’s everyone’s least favorite thing to do. I used to hate stretching after workouts and I skipped it 80% of the time. I didn’t see the point. But as an OT, I can guarantee you’ll be thanking your younger self once you get older. It’s not fun when you can’t even bend down to put your socks on. Or when you can’t reach your arms high enough to get something out of the kitchen cabinet. Oh and don’t even get my started on back pain. Start now. Like I said, it doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out ordeal every single day. Just start incorporating a few mindful stretches in your daily routine. That’s it. Keep it simple, especially when starting off. Plus, stretching feels good!
[Please please please don’t let your inflexibility now hold you back. It makes me so sad when people don’t do yoga because they say they are too inflexible. That’s the point! With some time and consistency, you WILL progress. I couldn’t touch my toes when I first started. And I literally couldn’t stand on one foot long enough to put on my shoe (my balance sucked). Just start where you are and be compassionate with yourself with wherever that is.]
The other two physical benefits from yoga are balance and strength. I’ll go into more detail on these in a later post. Most people’s balance and strength are pretty adequate, especially if they are already working out regularly. But I will say that flexibility, balance, and strength are all physical areas you will quickly see improvements in with your yoga practice in a way that no other workout will.
We all know the hype about mindfulness these days. I mean, you can’t walk into a Barnes and Noble without being bombarded by all the mindfulness coloring books these days. And the amount of meditation apps on the market is unreal. Even big corporations and organizations are incorporating mindfulness with their employees within the workday. And there’s a reason for all that. Research shows that even a few minutes a day of meditation can reduce anxiety by 22%!
I know you’re thinking, “but Mallory, you said that yoga didn’t have to involve meditation pillows!” Well for me, yoga is a moving meditation. I used to think I was a “bad yogi” because I didn’t light incense and sit in a seated position for more than two minutes with my eyes closed. Then one day I realized that yoga is my meditation. Even a few minutes stretching and flowing in my bedroom makes me feel so relaxed and clears my mind like nothing else does. It always lifts my mood, and I feel like I can function like a normal human being again after a long day. That’s always a good thing, right?
This one is a hard one for people to get on board with. Like mentioned before, people shy away from yoga because of the chanting, Kumbaya, hippy vibes people get. But it most definitely does not have be that way. You don’t have to have a Buddha statue in your room to do yoga. In fact, that’s the stereotype I want to break. I personally am a Christian. And when I do yoga, 90% of the time, I have mellow Christian music playing. It’s my time of worship and prayer. If I have a few extra minutes before, I’ll read a quick devotional or a few bible verses, or journal a little prayer. Then I just close my eyes and start to move in whatever way feels good. I always feel 1000x better afterwards. It’s a great ritual for me which has helped me feel more connected to God because I feel like I’ve had an intentional, quiet moment with Him. My yoga practice definitely did not start off this way. I just wanted to be more flexible and prevent injury from working out. But it surprisingly turned into something more spiritual than physical for me. Not saying it has to look like this for everyone, especially those who have different beliefs or religion; but there’s something about slowing down and taking a few moments to focus of your mind and body that inevitably helps you connect to your spiritual side also.
So there you have it. My 3 reasons why yoga is for everyone: physical, mental, and spiritual. I know many people still won’t agree and can find those benefits through other activities. And that’s totally true! But personally, I think you get the best bang for you buck through yoga. I think the world might be a little happier, calmer, and mindful with a few more good stretches and deep breaths in it. So if you’re like me and just wanting to find some time to disconnect with the chaos of the world, and reconnect with yourself, and also get a good bonus stretch in, then I guarantee that yoga is for you.