I now cringe when I hear this, but I never realized this was actually my mentality when I first started my yoga practice. It wasn’t so much calories I was concerned about though, but I was concerned that I was spending an hour or sometimes up to 90 minutes in a yoga class without even breaking a sweat. I always wanted strong exercises where I felt absolutely smashed after it and if I didn’t feel like that, I felt like I had just wasted a precious hour of my time. I played sport growing up playing representive netball and touch football, so it was almost engraved into me to play hard or go home.
But now I am the opposite. I found my new love for yoga when I let go of all the expectations I had for it and actually appreciated it for what it is. It was hard when my ego was telling me all of the things I should be doing whilst participating in a class where EVERYONE seemed to just get it.
I was sort of forced into yoga in my second year in the fitness industry. I applied for a job that required me to be a beginner yoga instructor. It took a good month of practice consistently 3 times a week to finally get it. As awkward as it felt, as uncomfortable as some of the poses felt, I didn’t realize at the time how much it would change my life and give me this whole new appreciation for my mind, body and breath
I have learnt the art of slowing down and I have deeply, deeply appreciated this the older I get, and the busier life seems to get. I now crave Yoga. Like it is my little fix I need emotionally and physically for me to get through big weeks.
Even though there are SO many benefits I have gained I am going to give you my top 3 benefits of Yoga that go beyond calories.
I am going to say this one first because I feel like this would be the first reason why I would have stopped yoga. I just felt so awkward and uncomfortable when I first started my practice. Not only was I incredibly inflexible but I also hated not getting things. Ignorance, when I think back to it. Well it was actually fear. Fear of looking odd, fear of not getting it, fear of being last, fear of being laughed at. Little did I know with my persistence and consistency with yoga was actually growing a new set of skills. Where there is fear and discomfort, there is growth. New skills are one of the best ways to preserve white matter in your brain and also grow a new nerve called neurogenesis and also the connections between nerve cells called synaptogenesis. This process of overcoming challenges has a dramatic impact on your long-term brain health helping prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. From the balancing, to the coordination and the extra mobility so much of my life has been enhanced from practicing yoga.
Reducing Stress Levels
Like I mentioned in last week’s blog ‘The not so common way to reduce bloating’ I could eat the most perfect diet but still have an extremely sore belly. Well one thing yoga will help with is decreasing cortisol in the body which in-turn helps us drop into the PNS (parasympathetic nervous system) rest & digest. Cortisol affects the gut in many ways such as decreased nutrient absorption, plus an increased occurrence of bloating and constipation. When our stress hormone/ cortisol levels are chronic it has been linked to many chronic gastrointestinal disorders including chon’s disease, IBS ulcerative colitis and bowl cancers.
Yoga interrupts the stress at the source. As simple as forward bends, back bends. Twisting and side bending with breath and mediation has truly improved my gut health. Dr Mario Martinex, author and longevity scientist, 75% of busy executives have gastrointestinal disorders.
One of our favourite lines at Real Fitness Training is there is no point being big and strong lifting ridiculous amounts of weight if you struggle to even touch your shins. I can imagine that would be quite uncomfortable. I mean this was me! People now see me practicing Yoga and say you are so lucky you are so flexible which trust me it took regular consistent practice of 3 times a week to increase and even maintain what flexibility I have gained from my Yoga practice. But I LOVE how I can move now. It has improved all my work downstairs (in the gym). I can sit in a deep squat for over 10 minutes which would have felt impossible before. I now enjoy how supple my spine can be. I remember once been told your only as young as your spine. My goal from that day forward was to keep my supple spine. So now you will see my very common selfie is me doing a back bend. I aim to keep doing that for the rest of my life.
As a summary there is so much more that yoga has given me than just calorie expenditure. I can honestly say it has changed so much of my mind, body and soul and this is why I brought Yoga into RFT from day 1. I know at first it can be hard to grasp the concept and there is so much more behind yoga, but I do invite you if you have had any similar experiences with your health like I have to give yoga a go. Not just once either. I always recommend trying it for one month 2-3 times a week. Get a feel for the different teachers and different classes. When I first started I preferred the power yoga but now I LOVE hatha and Yin yoga the most.
I know life can get busy and the first thing that seems to go is your calmer practices like Yoga or meditation but, it has one of the biggest impacts on your stress levels and your overall wellbeing. I invite you to try it consistently for that one month.
If you are part of the Hills District including Castle Hill, Kellyville, Bella Vista, Baulkham Hills, Glenhaven, West Pennant Hills, Dural, Rouse Hill and surrounding areas we have a perfect one-month introduction to yoga for all non-members to RFT for 1 month unlimited yoga for $39. We offer 12 classes Vinyasa, Hatha and Yin yoga – and don’t worry if you don’t get all the poses or sanskrits or even if you just don’t get it. The yoga we have bought into RFT are with teachers who genuinely care. It is not about who is the most flexible, it is about showing up and just being.