When people first hear the word ‘yoga’ I think their mind automatically goes to a quiet room filled with the aroma of essential oils, and the idea of having to contort oneself into pretzel-like positions. It’s partly true!
Yoga is a great practice for stretching your muscles and increasing overall flexibility, but it actually has a hidden number of benefits for your body’s entire well-being.
When tackling your personal health journey, it’s easy to fall into tunnel vision on a particular diet, or putting all your effort into one exercise, but in reality, looking at it holistically is a far more sustainable approach.
Using yoga as a partner-in-crime to a nourishing diet of fruit and veg means we can harness our ‘prana’ (energy or life force that we receive from clean eating) during practice, and properly connect our bodies to our minds. If you’ve been thinking about giving yoga a go, but all you know of is ‘downward dog’ and ‘sun salutation’, then look no further. Here is a very humble list of the ways in which yoga can change and improve your everyday life, that isn’t just the ability to touch your toes
1. Yoga aids with your digestion and boosts metabolism
Like I said, I love using yoga as a means to get my body moving, but in order to do that, I need to be properly fuelled. People tend to refrain from exercise right after they eat, but what’s magical about yoga is its ability to help us digest our food and boost our metabolism.
Sometimes before I run off to the studio I’ll quickly heat up one of my ready-made Soulara meals (a current favourite being the Golden Glow Salad), that’s jam-packed with all the fresh plant-based goodness I need to engage that ‘prana’. Then, to help my body digest, I’ll practise some gentle yoga flows that are good for the bowel.
Some asanas (like Ustrasana or Bhujangasan) work to massage our inner organs and therefore aid with this digestive process. Not only does this provide relief for the insides of our bodies, but a healthy diet with efficient digestion is known to boost our mental health too.
2. Yoga is good for the heart
Practising yoga regularly can actually help to reduce full-body inflammation. The stress-easing movements of yoga flows are known to increase circulation and blood flow, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol that can potentially lead to heart diseases and arthritis.
3. It can help you to relax before bed for a better night’s sleep
Yoga is great because you can alter your flow for any time of day. Just woke up and want to warm up your muscles? Yoga. Have some excess energy and want something high-intensity? Yoga. Looking to wind down before bed? Yep, there’s a yoga flow for that. Slower routines that focus on breathwork are amazing for ensuring you get a good night’s sleep. Using this as a method to calm down and centre in on your breath is an easy way to soothe your mind and lower your heart rate so you’re ready for an uninterrupted night of rest.
4. Yoga eases the mind and reduces stress
A potential given, but one of the most important benefits to yoga. This way of connecting your mind to your body is so powerful, and simply taking some time each day to practice yoga and mentally check in with how you’re feeling is a handy tool in relieving stress. The mind is an important instrument in yoga, and in return, it is known to improve your mood, boost
concentration, and strengthen memory.
5. It works to strengthen your bones
We’re aware of the wonders that yoga does for our muscles, but our bones actually reap few rewards too. By holding positions for a certain amount of time, tension is created on our bones as they are engaged, increasing their overall strength. Low and behold the endless benefits of practising yoga! You don’t need to dive headfirst into the most complicated flows, but simply putting aside 10 minutes of your day on the mat, is one ultra calming way to connect your mind, body and soul. Still seeking a little guidance?
Soulara is a plant-based, ready-made meal delivery company. In-house chefs take inspiration from all over the globe to bring you new and exciting meals every week, while our in-house dieticians ensure each meal is nutritionally balanced. This allows you to get plenty of the nutrients you need to thrive while on a plant-based diet, even protein.
About Kate Kendall
Passionate about teaching the ‘art of slowing down’, Kate Kendall is the Co-Founder & Director of Yoga at Flow Athletic, in Sydney’s Paddington. With over 2000 hours of yoga teacher training, Kate covers everything from calming flows, to dynamic and upbeat movements. Kate co-created the unique and first of its kind, ‘Flow After Dark, Yoga Silent Disco’ events around Australia, bringing her own sense of flair and fun to the practice of yoga.
She moved on to lead her own Inspired Leaders Yoga Teacher Training and mentoring, and created her own 4 week e-course, The Space Between, with a focus on mindfulness and slowing down – saying her goal for her students is to ‘make their default mode ‘calm’. Also a proud author, Kate released her own book ‘Life in Flow’ in 2019, that spreads the word of the importance of balance through yoga, meditation and breathwork.