Have you ever had a friend or family member ask you to do yoga with them and actually let out a groan or sigh? If so, welcome to the club! You are far from being the only person who has avoided doing yoga.
However, you are probably not aware of the numerous benefits of yoga that you are missing out on every time you reject an offer or tell yourself you’ll try it some other time.
Why Some People Avoid Yoga
Different people have various excuses for avoiding yoga. Of course, some people have legitimate reasons as to why they cannot physically do yoga. Yet the rest of us tend to make some of these following excuses for why we avoid doing yoga:
- It’s way too hard! It’s harder than a regular workout.
- I’m not flexible enough to be able to do that.
- Yoga isn’t for guys. Only girls do yoga.
- I just want to build muscle, so I’ll lift weights instead.
- Yoga seems kind of religious, and it makes me uncomfortable.
- I have a bad back (or knee, elbow, shoulder, et cetera). I don’t want to make it feel worse.
- Yoga is expensive. It’s not for poor people like me.
- My doctor told said that yoga is bad for you.
The truth is that yoga is difficult, but when you start out doing beginner-level yoga, you can build up to the harder stuff. You don’t have to already be fit and flexible to do yoga. In fact, most people aren’t extremely flexible when they start. It will build muscle, core strength, endurance, stamina, and balance over time if you keep at it.
Most importantly, yoga is for (almost) everyone. It certainly is not bad for most people, and it isn’t exclusive. It is also not a religion. Yoga is simply a way to build your strength, improve your health, and reconnect with your mind and body.
Benefits You Miss Out On When You Avoid Yoga
Now that we have addressed the most common excuses people make for not doing yoga, we will discuss some of the benefits those who avoid yoga are missing out on.
1. Yoga Helps Manage Stress
While it’s important to discuss the physical aspects of yoga, one of its often-understated benefits is its ability to help manage emotional stress. Emotional stress can create or perpetuate oxidative stress inside our bodies, making us feel physically and mentally unwell. Yoga helps you center yourself, connect with your body through deep breathing, and focus more on positivity and creating effective coping skills.
In addition, when yoga is regularly practiced, it can ultimately lead to clearer thinking, mental and physical relaxation, and increased awareness of what you are both thinking and feeling.
2. Yoga Increases Flexibility
If you struggle with stiff and achy joints or just want to increase your flexibility, yoga is one of the most effective methods for doing so. If you sit for long periods of time or are not normally physically active, the joints throughout your body can start to ache. Those with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other autoimmune or joint-related disorders deal with this on a regular basis, even when they are physically active.
Stretching your legs, arms, and throughout your spine can curb some of the pain you feel throughout your joints and loosen them up. Even just 15 minutes of simple yoga stretches can increase your flexibility.
3. Yoga Builds Muscle Tone and Strength
Those who practice yoga on a routine basis will notice changes in muscle definition and body strength. Various poses work different parts of the body, and a good yoga routine will target multiple muscles. While cultivating definition and strength takes a lot of practice, it can be done, especially since you are essentially having to support your own body weight in many yoga poses.
4. Yoga Improves Respiration
Many people do not realize how labored their breathing is until they try yoga. Since it strengthens the muscles in your spine and chest, yoga can help you improve your respiration. A combination of breathing and asana (a relaxed, seated position) poses are generally considered to be beneficial, as are positions in which you must open up through your chest.
5. Yoga Boosts the Immune System
Last, but certainly not least, yoga has been shown to boost the immune system by helping you decrease emotional and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress makes it more difficult for the body to expel toxins that make their way into the digestive tract. This can make you prone to illnesses when you’re already feeling stressed out and tired. Yoga poses that twist, extend, or compress the gut area are helpful in getting rid of these toxins.
You shouldn’t feel forced into doing yoga, but you also don’t have anything to fear from trying it. You can start off as easy as you need and build up from there. You might just find yourself enjoying the benefits you reap from your time on the yoga mat.