Yoga and Why You Should Try It

By Grace Wang and Dr. Chris E. Stout  for ATIPT

Yoga and Why You Should Try ItWe’ve all seen the Pinterest pins or the motivational memes with an athletic-looking person contorted into positions we previously thought were humanly impossible, somehow managing to maintain a relaxed, almost bored expression. We’ve seen articles on yoga poses that can mitigate migraines, mollify menstrual cramping, and even cure constipation. Sounds great, right? Well, then why don’t more people try it? Why aren’t we all yogis, toting our mats everywhere we go and striking an eight-angle or a crow pose?

Excuse 1: I don’t have the time or the money.
Actually, yoga sessions can easily be adjusted to fit your schedule and limitations. If you don’t have the finances to pay for a class, check out some videos on YouTube posted by professionals. You may not get the individualized attention or personalized flair that can only come with face-to-face interaction, but a good yoga instructor will always provide clear instructions and tell you where you should feel a certain stretch or what muscles should be engaged.

These videos are free, and if you’re doing yoga from the comfort of your own living room or backyard, there’s no need to invest in fancy work-out clothes or even a mat (although if you stick with it, you may want to). Do you only have ten minutes in the morning? Or maybe you prefer an evening routine? Not a problem – yoga YouTube videos allow for that kind of flexibility.

Also, aside from financial and scheduling benefits, another perk of starting out with a YouTube video is that you can familiarize yourself with yoga lingo and poses. That way you will have a basic knowledge of the poses and won’t feel as uncomfortable when you do decide to attend a class.

Excuse 2: I’m not flexible enough.
I could never do it! So start small. Nothing comes without effort. Good yoga instructors provide variations on stretches and poses so that each class can cater to beginner, intermediate, or advanced yogis. Yoga allows you to acknowledge your limitations and challenge yourself simultaneously. As long as you are willing to engage in each session and push yourself appropriately, you’ll find your limitations will change and diminish. Remember, yoga is not a competitive sport. It doesn’t matter how flexible or impressive someone else is. Just do what you can with what you have and you will improve.

Excuse 3: It’s not challenging enough – I need a fast-paced, real, full-body workout.
Okay, either you’ve never tried yoga, or you tried a kind of yoga that wasn’t right for you.Instructors vary in style, so one might focus on breathing while another might focus on higher-intensity practice that builds muscle. Bikram yoga, for example is a series of 26 challenging poses done in a heated room. Before you write off all yoga after just trying one type, research the different kinds to see if there is one that could be more palatable to your individual tastes.

Aside from benefits that come with any physical activity, research has shown that yoga can boost immunity, improve sleep quality, and combat food cravings. Shanna Obluck, Event Marketing Manager at ATI Physical Therapy and yoga instructor says:

“Yoga means different things to different people, but I think everyone that practices yoga has a story about how it has been beneficial to their health in at least one way. Flexibility and stress management/reduction are two benefits that people readily agree upon. However, both through my personal experiences as well as those of my students, I have seen yoga help people sleep better, eat better, and reduce their risk of injuries from other activities.

I’ve had students alleviate back pain and reduce the frequency of their migraines. Yoga definitely isn’t <a panacea> to fix all ills and prevent diseases, but it does way more for your health than giving you Gumby-like flexibility.”

As always, be careful when you exercise your body. Don’t try poses that are above your skill level, and if you’re using videos rather than in-person instruction, be especially cautious.