September 24, 2018 5 min read

Yoga is known to be the go-to workout for when you would like to destress and to calm yourself down when your energies are all over the place. Though you may think it as simply another workout routine, it actually offers more just physical fitness.

Yoga For The Body

The one thing that you are always encouraged to do the moment you start doing yoga is to breathe and to breathe well. When you take in a deep breath and hold it in for a few seconds, you increase your lung capacity and thus allows the blood that travels all throughout your body to be more oxygenated. This is the reason why you feel so refreshed when you’re in a place where the greens are in full force; your body appreciates every drop of oxygen that you give to it and yoga allows you and teaches you to make the most out of every breath.

Yoga also enhances a person’s flexibility. Being flexible prevents you from having serious physical injuries when doing strenuous activities because the muscles and joints in your body have been accustomed to movement and becomes less tense and therefore, are more capable of movement and faster recovery. Not only that, flexibility also prevents the occasional soreness that you feel just by doing your day to day activities because flexibility allows your body to have a better range in motion and therefore makes moving a lot easier.

As you go through the various poses in yoga, you also get to activate the lymphatic system of the body which is responsible for boosting your immune system, fighting off disease, and disposing of the toxins that have accumulated in your cells due to stress. It also lowers your cortisol levels which is also attributed to stress. When you decrease your cortisol level, you contribute to the weight loss process of the body, and prevent further weight gain because a high cortisol level leads to more cravings and therefore, more unnecessary calories and fat that is distributed in the body.

As you move on further into the practice of yoga, you realize that your entire body from the muscles to the different systems in your body to your emotional and psychological state of well-being are so interwoven that taking care of one means taking care of yourself all in one go.

Yoga For The Mind

With every move in yoga, proper breathing is incorporated. The fluidity of your every movement is related to how you breathe as it allows you time to prepare before going into the next pose. Breathing is one method of calming your nerves down and the movements of yoga intend to bring down your stress levels and to release you from the trappings of your everyday living as it allows you time to reflect and meditate as you move from one pose to another.

Yoga allows you to be more aware of your surroundings and your feelings. Have you ever tried doing yoga in the midst of an emotional crisis? It does take a certain degree of control to be able to focus and just breathe when your head is running around in circles. Yoga is the outlet that your body needs in order to relax the mind and refocus your attention. The meditative part of yoga allows you to concentrate and be more aware of what you really need to be doing.

Yoga also intends for their practitioners to follow a belief system that centers on improving one’s view of life and way of living. Yoga encourages a person to follow these principles of yoga which are as follows: non-violence, wisdom, righteousness, sacrificing of the ego, self discipline, simplicity, honesty, meditation, satisfaction, and spiritual awareness. Yoga encourages a holistic development of the person that goes beyond the physical attributes.

Yoga vs Pilates

The main difference between yoga and pilates is that yoga also infuses a belief system alongside the workout that comes from the flow of movements that you do when doing yoga whereas the goal of pilates is to improve on the physical attributes of a person and to keep the person grounded and aware of his own body.

Yoga is done on a mat and involves a lot of floor work. It centers on breathing and on regaining focus as you go through every movement that you do. Each flow redirects your energies to impact different systems in your body that needs a reboot or a gentle nudging. The sympathetic system of the body which is for the nerves, the adrenal system of the body which relates to your stress levels, the lymphatic system which is for the immunity of the body, and the circulatory system which relates to your blood pressure and blood flow are just some of the functions of the body that yoga touches on. Not only does yoga effect change on the physical aspect of the body, it also encourages a level of self awareness and being.

Pilates on the other hand is similar to yoga in that it encourages breathing properly, regaining and maintaining balance, elongating and strengthening of the muscles to protect the body from injuries, and focuses mainly on the core. Movements can be done on a mat but pilates machines are also available to aid the practitioner in making the most of the movements involved in pilates. Pilates appreciates the connection between mind and body but it does not go beyond that to explore a spiritual awareness as would be normally attributed to yoga. It’s main focus is the realigning the body and making it fluid, compact, and strong.

Yoga only requires a flat surface and body control

Pilates can be done using a machine

Starting With Yoga

Yoga can be done in the comforts of your home and with no prior experience required. You can check out this youtube channel to see how you can begin your yoga practice as a form of workout. You can do it first thing in the morning before you go through your daily motions or you can choose to do it at the end of the day as you wind down and wrap up everything that you did throughout the day. The intention is to allow your body to ease into movement and be aware that you are here in the now and that your choices will impact the will be in the future.

It is the natural inclination as you move further into your yoga practice that you develop a stillness that makes you open to the teachings of yoga. The yogic belief system is inculcated in the movements, in the breathing, and in the openness of the mind to see beyond what is there in front of you. It allows you to feel alive and re-centers your living towards living properly and living well. Joining a yoga class allows you to explore this further or you learn more about them on your own by reading more about it and learning from experienced yoga practitioners.

Finding Your Zen

Yoga as a practice and as a way of living encourages a lot of the healthy lifestyle changes that person would want to go into. It supports those who are into heavy weight lifting, those who are into more aerobic exercises, and those who are slowly inching their way into a more active lifestyle. It also supports diet and eating patterns such as intermittent fasting where you learn to control yourself even more and appreciate the process that your body goes through as it improves and regains its balance.

Taking on yoga is an easy decision to make because it does not put pressure on getting it right right away. It accepts and it allows growth. So grab a mat, find a spot, let your zen flow through your body.