Even if you’ve never done a single yoga pose, you probably have heard some of the reasons why people practice yoga, such as stress reduction, pain relief and overcoming insomnia.
But unless you or someone you’re close to is a yogi, you probably don’t know about the many unexpected perks and bursts of insight that arise from a regular yoga practice.
Physical benefits are often the first to be felt. Other shifts, like changes in your interactions with others may take longer to manifest, so don’t give up if you don’t experience all of these side effects after just a few sessions.
You might find these unexpected shifts in perspective to be even more rewarding than the initial benefits.
Here are some ways that yoga may impact your life OFF the mat.
1) Increased motivation or mojo
Many of us don’t often feel like doing many of the tasks on our to-do lists.
Not necessarily because they’re hard to do. It might just be that the steps to complete the task are slightly unclear. Or you have to look up something in an online account and you don’t know where you wrote the password for that account.
So you procrastinate doing it at all.
But after several days of an invigorating and energizing yoga practice you suddenly realise you’re crossing these tedious items off your list, not because you’re tired of seeing them, but because they’re done!
Many standing poses and abdominal strengthening poses stimulate the solar plexus region which is the center of our personal power. When we activate this part of our body, we awaken our innate motivation or inner drive.
2) Better sleep - after even one yoga session, you will probably wake up the next morning feeling less sludgy and dull. Whereas you might typically turn over to go back to sleep once or twice, you’re more likely to hop out of bed quickly.
Many twisting poses stimulate stagnant energy in the body, leaving fewer cobwebs to cut through in the a.m.
3) Fewer junk food cravings - Since I am an Olympic-caliber snacker, this benefit of yoga is particularly exciting for me.
Many people find that regular yoga practice seems to minimize cravings for processed snack foods like cookies and chips.
Rather than exercising your will power to resist the urge to eat candy, how about if you just forget about it all together?
4) Cravings for dark leafy greens - I know it probably sounds a bit goofy, but when I practice yoga a lot, I notice my body telling me it would like some healthy green foods like chard or spinach. It’s much easier to eat healthy foods because they match my cravings rather than just having a nagging idea in my head that I SHOULD eat them.
5) Better personal organization aka less last-minute scrambling when I’m going out of town. Without yoga, there’s a good chance I’ll be stuffing some unpaid bills/unopened mail in a travel bag with the idea that I’ll take care of them while I’m on a bus or train.
But once I’m away from home, it usually an annoyance to have to deal with unfinished business during the time I should be relaxing and completely forgetting my day to day chores.
With regular yoga, I’ll have my loose ends tied up before I go and I can leave home with satisfied that everything is taken care of.
6) I find more constructive resolutions to challenging situations. Instead of having my frustration build up to the point that I’m blustering with impatience, it’s held in check while I mull over the possibilities and think of a creative solution.
Instead of being thrown completely off center by an awkward conversation, I regroup quickly, reflect and find myself thinking of a positive next step.
7) I find myself releasing pent up emotions instead of lashing out at others and saying something I’d regret. I’m more likely to pull back from confrontation and tune into my own needs. When I do this, I make space to release my emotions in private rather than taking my frustration out on others.
Bonus: I notice an overall softening of day to day unconscious stress. With a few solid practices under my belt, I’m holding much less stress and tension in my body. I can remain chill when driving in rush hour traffic and my feathers are not so easily ruffled when a sibling or co-worker makes an irritating comment.
These are a few things I’ve been happy to observe in myself when I practice yoga regularly.
How about you? Have you seen gratifying benefits in yourself or others from practicing yoga?