Growing up, I was an athlete. I played competitive sports like lacrosse and soccer, competed in horse shows, took dance classes and swam laps, just because. I’m no stranger to pushing it to your max and wanting to look and feel your best, however, I never achieved that until I found yoga.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be super flexible, vegan, or a rock star model to be a yogi, it’s truly for everyone. Yogis come in all shapes and sizes; having curves or a little extra weight won’t hold you back from rocking some serious poses.
Yoga is accessible to people at all levels because it builds. You can come to a class, just being you, and slowly but surely achieve your best self. Usually, yoga studios have differentiated level classes and the instructors can tell you how to modify poses if you are more of a beginner or want more of a challenge.
Here are a few reasons why you may want to include yoga in your routine:
As a society, we are overloaded with stress, so it’s no surprise that people are attracted to yoga because of its Zen-like aspects. Yoga is a wonderful way to relax at the end of a day, ground yourself, find center, and decrease anxiety to bring your body back into balance. Try out the pose below to decrease stress.
Yoga Pose: Balasana: Child’s Pose
Do you want long, lean muscles? Well, many yoga poses increase muscle tone by activating your core, large and small muscles groups all at once. Over time, you’ll be able to flex those toned yoga arms with confidence. Check out the pose below to get yourself ready for those crazy balances you’ve seen on Instagram!
Yoga Pose: Chaturanga Dandasana: Four-Limbed Staff Pose
Yoga is a wonderful compliment to other forms of exercise. Where other activities like running or rowing can make your muscles tight, yoga can support you to lengthen and create dimension in your body. Using your muscles in different ways will also help you prevent injury. The suggested pose below will lengthen and strengthen just about every part of your body, and is especially great for people with tight shoulders, hamstrings, and calves.
Yoga Pose: Adho Mukha Svanasana: Downward Facing Dog
Flowing through a sun salutation is the perfect way to energize your body and mind while articulating the curves of your spine in order to keep it healthy. Sun salutations are typically done in the morning, but can be performed at any time you need a pick-me-up.
Yoga Pose: Surya Namaskar: Sun Salutation
Due to sedentary lifestyles and desk jobs, many people are dealing with back pain and poor posture as a result of lost articulation of the curves of the spine. Yoga, when practiced regularly, can help reverse the damage that sitting and slouching cause by bringing out these natural curves. Poses that lengthen the sides of the waist, broaden your chest or back, and help you learn pelvic orientation can be very beneficial for you. Try the yoga pose below to experience flexion and extension of the spine and posterior and anterior pelvic tilt.
Yoga Pose: Marjaryasana/ Bitilasana: Cat/Cow
If you’re injured, yoga can aid you in rebuilding and learning your body on a deeper level to prevent future ailments. Many athletes work the same muscle groups over and over causing the muscles and joints to wear out over time. Yoga helps joints stay healthy and mobile, while working the entire body to make sure you’re strong enough to support the body parts that get the most wear and tear. Start slow and work with a seasoned yoga instructor who will teach you how to modify poses based on your injury and can help you learn which poses to avoid.
Recommendation: Modify a variety of poses with yoga props like blocks and blankets. Whatever you’re looking for, there’re a variety of classes to support you to get there.
About Shannon Brennan-Cressey
Shannon Brennan-Cressey is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Yoga Shanti Teacher Training program. Shannon coaches women around creating balance in their lives, making peace with food, and finding and keeping the types of relationships they deserve. Find her musings and life lessons on her wellness & lifestyle blog Whole Foodie Booty.
Your yoga practice is only one part of the equation. Proper nutrition is the perfect complement and WellPath customizes nutritional solutions for your unique set of goals and needs. Click here to get started on your free consultation today.