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Why Yoga?

10 Good Reasons

By

Updated April 30, 2013

Your time is precious, so why should you spend it doing yoga? You could be doing Zumba or spinning or Tae Kwan Do. Taking a nap, taking a walk, taking a swim. Actually, those things are all great and you should definitely do them. But you should also do yoga. Here's ten reasons why.

1. You are stressed

Unfortunately, stress and its friends worry and anxiety are problems for many people and have been shown to have an adverse effect on health. Yoga is great for relieving the physical symptoms of stress (even during an anxiety attack) and for introducing the idea of quieting the mind. I have often seen yoga act as a gateway to removing stressful personal or workplace situations from peoples' lives. Yoga can help you get off the hamster wheel and gain perspective on what's really important.

2. You can't touch your toes

People tell me all the time that they couldn't possibly do yoga because they can't touch their toes. Well, that's what the yoga is for, silly. Improved flexibility is pretty much a guaranteed result of a regular yoga practice, and not just your hamstrings.

3. You sit at a desk all day

Posture is a big issue for the many people who spend most of their working day in front of a computer. If you drive to and from work and take your down time sitting on the couch, you are going to find yourself with back pain at the very least. There are many ways that yoga helps you get your spine long and shoulders back, including stretches you can do at work.

4. Your back hurts

As I mentioned above, back pain is endemic to a sedentary lifestyle. Getting up to move and stretch a few times a week can be preventative and even treat the pain you already have. Since back pain can be caused by so many different things, it's important to see a doctor if you have chronic pain so that he or she can tell you if there are any kinds of movements you should avoid. Our Guide to Back Pain has some great info on yoga for back pain that you should also check out.

5. You want to lose weight

Yoga for weight loss is a bit of a controversial subject. While there is an abundance of scientific evidence that even the most physically demanding types of yoga don't burn that many calories, there is also a lot of anecdotal evidence from people who believe that yoga has played an important role in their weight loss. Given this discrepancy, it has been suggested that yoga plays a supporting role by promoting a healthier lifestyle and improved dietary choices.

6. You have arthritis

People with arthritis are advised to move their bodies and stay active, but they need forms of exercise that are low impact and gentle on the joints. Yoga fits the bill. If possible, find a class that caters to people with arthritis so you can be sure that your teacher is familiar with your condition. Here's some more info on starting yoga when you have arthritis.

7. You are pregnant

Congratulations! If you've never done yoga before, this is a great time to start. There are so many reasons to do yoga during (and after) your pregnancy. Yoga can help you prepare for giving birth by opening your body and giving you techniques to cope with pain. Prenatal yoga classes offer a time to slow down and connect with your changing body.

8. You could use a time out

Remember when you were a kid and your mom told you to take deep breaths when you got worked up? Well, it still works. Breathing exercises taught in yoga classes (called pranayama) offer amazing tools for improving your respiratory function and controlling its effect on the central nervous system. Yoga is also a great way to take a time out from the rest of your day. Your time on the mat is a real break from the constant chatter in your head.

9. You just want to feel better

You may initially try yoga just for exercise, to help with your other athletic pursuits, or because you've heard it will give you a nice butt, but you'll quickly find out that yoga's benefits go way beyond the physical. Some people find a conection to the spiritual, but even if that's not your cup of chai, your mood will be elevated and you will feel better.

10. Everyone else is doing it

Aren't you just the tiniest curious why everyone from your barista to your mailman to your boss to your mom is always running off to yoga? While I'm usually the last person to advise that you follow the herd, the sheer breadth of folks getting enjoyment out of yoga suggests that there's something to it. And if you don't like it, at least you'll know why.

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