10 Real Reasons to Become a Yoga Addict

(c) 2009 Mia Matthews.

(c) 2009 Mia Matthews.

You’ve heard the benefits over and over again — there is a laundry list of reasons yoga is fantastic for your mind and body, including scientific things like “lower blood pressure,” and “increase good cholesterol.”  While impressive, whenever I review a long diatribe on yoga’s benefits, I also wonder about the down-to-earth, really motivating reasons that gets people so addicted.  Taking from personal experience, friends and fellow yogis, here’s what I’ve found:

  1. BECOME AN IMPERFECTIONIST. There’s a reason why people refer to people who do yoga as practitioners.  Yoga is a practice, in every sense of the word.  It’s a kind, patient, noncompetitive way to recognize and accept the imperfection of being human.  It teaches you to appreciate your body and everything it’s capable of doing and being (for more on this, check out Shelley Adelle’s At Home In Your Body).  As one fellow yogi said “My mat is my sanctuary. I don’t feel pressured or judged by myself or anyone else.”  Quite a change from the general gym environment.
  2. BALANCE YOUR ACT. Yoga teaches you how to balance, literally; how to get back up and try again when you fall.  As a life skill, it doesn’t get much more important than that.
  3. DON’T THINK ABOUT WORK (OR ANYTHING ELSE) FOR 90 MINUTES. When else do you have an excuse to completely check out?  Yoga helps you set the world aside for a while, live in the moment, think more efficiently, and make better decisions.
  4. BENEFIT IN THE BEDROOM. We’re all [presumably] adults here.  Being more bendy, increased awareness of and attention to sensation, heightened self-confidence and, of course, a better, healthier body — they’ve all got big-time positive effects on intimacy.  It’s not something your yoga teacher’s going to talk to the class about, but this is one you should learn outside of the studio anyway.
  5. FIND A PURPOSE. Making dedications, intentions and/or prayers throughout your practice can help you feel connected to a greater cause or larger community.  This is especially true when you’re not able to make a direct contribution to a large problem or friend in need, for instance.  Yoga teaches you to become conscious of your own energy, and it offers you the chance to offer it outward with positivity.  This kind of regular offering promotes generosity, benevolence, optimism and general well-being.
  6. DO IT UNTIL YOU DROP. Although you can certainly sign up for a marathon frenzy of yoga classes, taking one or more a day, you’re not training for a “final event” that marks the end.  Yoga isn’t something you have to stop after a relatively short period of time.   Unlike workouts that cause stress and strain that often surpass the health benefits, it is an ideal exercise for all ages and fitness levels – something you can do from very early on until much later in life (case in point: while traveling in India, I took classes from a teacher in his late 90s).  And because yoga is ideally a long-term practice, it has a number of different “levels,” so even when there’s a pose you can’t perform, you can always do some form of it – and you can always work towards something more challenging when you’re ready to move up.
  7. HAPPINESS.  JUST ADD WATER. Or, more accurately, sweat (and music, and stretching, and deep breathing).  It’s well documented that physical activity releases endorphins in the brain, which naturally improve your mood (and, really, yogis tend to seem unusually happy, don’t you think)?
  8. BETTER ARMS, ABS, BACK, BUM. You knew this was coming.  Of course the long-term physical benefits of yoga are important for your overall health, but you know the truth.  One of the things dedicated yogis love most is the more immediate aesthetic value: way it sculpts arms, tones tummies, builds back muscles and shapes backsides.
  9. BREATHE LIKE YOU SHOULD. Ever felt stressed and someone said “hey, take a deep breath”?  At the simplest level, breathing well helps the body regulate its activity.  When we’re born, we naturally breathe deeply and fully.  As we get older, though, anxiety and social propriety (e.g., “suck your stomach in!”) causes us to take shallower breaths… and suffer as a result (check out Discovery Health’s article for more).  Inhaling and exhaling properly is vitally important to maintaining composure during stressful situations and getting enough oxygen to your muscles and organs (especially during pregnancy, when your body requires more than usual).  And it just feels good.  Try it.  You’ll see.
  10. SAY “AHA!” Every yogi has an “aha” moment during their yoga practice at some point.  You might find the answer to a work problem, an insight into a relationship, or have some other breakthrough.  The lightbulb phenomenon is a combination of energizing the body with movement, clearing the mind with breath work, and constant reflecting on your intention.  Being in the presence of someone inspiring, like your teacher or a room full of like-minded people, doesn’t hurt either.  If you’ve ever felt stuck, getting on the mat is a wonderful way to literally step forward.

Of all of the reasons out there to practice, though, the most important, of course, are the ones that you discover for yourself, along your own yoga journey.

So, GO.  Bend.  Breathe.  Practice.  Play!

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2 Responses to 10 Real Reasons to Become a Yoga Addict

  1. Kelly says:

    I love that benefit, Jessica! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Kelly says:

    [testing]

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