The Benefits of Yoga
1. Relieve Stress
We all find ways to deal with stress. But Terrence Monte, a managing teacher at Pure Yoga, says, “going to amped up gyms or punching a punching bag can make you more aggressive or more tired.” Yoga, on the other hand, employs a number of relaxation techniques, which, with regular practice, can make you calmer overall. Sadie Nardini, host of “Rock Your Yoga,” adds, “Along with training your body, yoga trains your mind to see the bigger picture and act from integrity instead of freaking out. If you want to be more James Bond than Charlie Sheen, get yourself on the mat.” Being forced to unplug from text, calls, and email for 60 to 90 minutes doesn't hurt either.
2. Better Flexibility
Most series of yoga asanas (physical postures) include one or more spinal twists to loosen the many joints that make up your spine. This can improve your tennis game and golf swing, as well as promote detoxification and good digestion. Yogi Cameron Alborizan, Ayurvedic healer, yoga guru, and author of The One Plan, says, “Think of the body as a sponge filled with dirty sink water. Gentle twists help to wring the sponge out and purge toxins.”
3. Sculpt Muscles
Yoga uses the weight of your own body to build mass and strength. Don’t believe it? Think about how many clunky free-weights it takes to bench press your bodyweight (150–200 lbs.)—yoga allows you to get the same muscle-building benefits by performing long, extended pushups, squats, and leg lifts. The results are well-worked muscle groups, which get stronger with each class.
4. Prevent Injury
Most yoga classes begin with a reminder to honor your body’s particular needs and limits on that particular day. This basic ability to scan and assess yourself as you practice will help reduce the incidence of injury when running or playing other sports. Plus, flexible, well-stretched yoga muscles will heal and recover more quickly after working out or getting strained.
5. Have Better Sex
One way to improve your performance in the bedroom is to translate all those relaxation and breathing techniques from yoga class into better, longer sex. Yogi Cameron says these strengthened concentration skills will help you focus your mind and better channel your sexual energy, helping to prevent premature ejaculation. “This can lead to increased sexual endurance,” he says, “and will make you far more sensitive and responsive to your partner.” Trust us, she’ll thank you for it.
6. Push Your Limits
There are many types of yoga classes, some gentler than others. But when you find the class that matches your abilities—and pushes them? “Watch out!” says Nardini. “With long holds and often continual movements, you’ll amp up cardio at the same time you’re building whole-body lean muscle mass. Find a class with ‘Power,’ ‘Vinyasa,’ or Flow’ in the title, and you can skip the gym that day.”