Do you dislike exercise because you feel like the reward isn’t worth the work?
If so, then you might enjoy the benefits of yoga stretches instead.
Workout fads come and go, but virtually no other exercise program is as enduring as yoga. It’s been around for more than 5,000 years. Yoga does more than burn calories and tone muscles. It’s a total mind-body workout that combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation or relaxation. Source
Why, exactly, is yoga different?
Maybe it’s the stretching that eases the body and mind almost instantaneously. Maybe it’s the glow in the skin you get regardless of how hard you worked your body.
The thing is, the body needs to move and be used so you can stay limber and keep the joints juicy. So if you don’t enjoy the thought of doing aerobic or anaerobic activities, take my advice and give yoga stretches a try!
Here’s why I think yoga is a more enjoyable way to exercise…
#1 – Yoga helps you be kind to your body.
A lot of exercises and sports cause you to push your boundaries when you’re not always physically ready. This can cause a lot of pain afterwards — and you may have to “sit out” for weeks after an injury.
Yoga, on the other hand, teaches you how to be kind to your body. Yoga teachers will constantly remind you to not overdo it. You’ll learn how to progressively and lovingly stretch, bend, and strengthen. And if there’s a pose in your yoga class that you want to get out of, you can just go into Child’s Pose without any judgement.
As you learn and grow within your class setting, your yoga teacher will ensure that your alignment is right to avoid injury. You’ll also be given variations of poses that will make it easier for you as you are in the early stages of yoga.
The deeper you breathe, the further you’ll stretch and strengthen. After a few weeks of practice, you’ll be surprised at how far you have gone in your practice without hurting yourself to get there.
#2 – Yoga gives you some quiet time all to yourself.
What sport makes you feel like you spent an hour at the spa?
Not every moment of your yoga class is blissful, but there are definitely moments that are pure joy — like Savasana.
Your teacher will continue to remind you throughout your class to focus on your breath, which allows you to focus inwards.
You will also be asked to focus on feeling the stretch of any given muscle. Again, this stops the monkey mind from hijacking your yoga experience so you can pay attention to yourself.
It’s common for newcomers to yoga to feel like they’ll look awkward and ridiculous in their first class. The beauty of yoga is nobody is staring at you or judging you because they’re focusing on themselves throughout the class.
You will likely also forget about everything going on around you as you close your eyes and feel your body stretching and relaxing.
When you focus inwardly, you gain the most benefit from yoga and it’s where you can really learn how to be aware of everything in your life. As you do a pose, you should be aware of your alignment, your breathing, and how much your body is feeling the pose.
The practice itself will feel very comfortable, and you will also gain clarity into the rest of your world.
#3 – Yoga promotes love and compassion.
The ancient practice of yoga comes with values that make it different than any other exercise or sport you’ve ever been a part of.
Not only are you giving your body a workout, you’re also tapping into the soul and readjusting your mindset.
As you practice yoga, you practice acceptance in yourself as well as others around you. This acceptance and compassion for others should exist both on and off the mat.
You’ll notice there are people that shine brightly within your yoga community. They are beacons of hope in a world that can often let us down. It’s not that these people are any different from you, they are just living the philosophies of yoga.
You may not feel it now but yoga is also touching your heart in a similar way, as it’s in all of us to practice love and compassion. When you do yoga stretches, you will feel safe — regardless of stumbling in a Warrior I pose or snoring in Savasana.
The longer you do yoga, the more comfortable you get as you realize you don’t have to hide any imperfection you perceive yourself to have.
#4 – Yoga is an individual journey, not a competition.
Many of the sports and exercises you’re used to probably come with an element of competition. With yoga, you can leave that mentality at the door — because yoga is all about individual needs and abilities.
You don’t have to have the same form as you see in your instructor or those around you. If you can’t stretch as far as others, nobody is judging. The journey of your yoga practice is individual.
You’re not going to have the same flexibility as other people in certain areas. You are in the midst of your own yoga story, and eventually you’ll get to the place you want.
More importantly, yoga will teach you to embrace yourself — regardless of what you can or can’t do.
This is the beauty of yoga. You can be in the same class as a yogi without feeling like you’re not good enough. They do their variations and you do yours!
#5 – Yoga heals all things through deep breathing.
When you do yoga properly, you can receive healing in all aspects of your mind, body, and soul:
- If you have feelings of depression or anxiety, certain yoga poses can help relax you or lift your spirits.
- If you have tight muscles that are painful, there’s a pose that can help you muscles release that tightness.
- When your mind is all over the place, yoga can bring you to center as it asks you to focus on yourself.
Every pose in yoga affects your physiological system (or chakras) within the body.
Additionally, the practice of breathing through every pose enhances the healing that yoga provides.
For example, when your breathing is shallow, physical, and energetic, your body is negatively affected. (If you think of a time when you were under stress, your breathing becomes shallow and you become tense.)
Yoga poses are designed to give you better posture so you can breathe better. Breathing is so deeply healing — in an instant and ongoing way.
It’s important to be physically fit. So if sports or hardcore exercises aren’t your thing, do yoga!
- It’s based on a completely different philosophy that honors the body, mind, and soul.
- You’re not only doing something good for your physical self, but you’re learning about self-care, compassion to others, and awareness within yourself.
- There’s no competition and there’s no fitness criteria you must meet to gain the benefits of the ancient practice of yoga.
I’m a yoga teacher, entrepreneur, and mom. As the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International, a yoga teacher training school, I write about yoga and holistic health.