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Whether you already consider yourself a "yogi," or the term itself brings you some uncertainty, we invite you to learn some of the unexpected and life-changing benefits of this practice. From your mental health to your physical, yoga transforms your body from the inside out, all in a fun, safe, and empowering way! 

8 Ways Yoga Can Improve Your Life

Provides back pain relief

It's common to wake up in the morning and feel tightness somewhere in the body, and typically, it's in our back. Yoga is incredibly helpful when it comes to alleviating pain and improving mobility, especially in those of us with lower back pain. The American College of Physicians actually recommends yoga as a first-line treatment for chronic low back pain. Start with some basic stretches in the morning, and eventually you may find yourself taking a class!

Try it! Cat-Cow Pose
Get on all fours, placing your palms underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. First, inhale, as you let your stomach drop down toward the floor. Lift your gaze and life your ears off your shoulders as you find a nice arch in your spine, like a hammock. Then, exhale, as you draw your navel toward your spine, rounding your spine like a cat stretching. Imagine pulling your shoulder blades apart and trying to glue your chin to your chest. Flow through these spinal movements with your breath, and notice how your spine relaxes!

Increases your energy and boosts your mood

Yoga is one of the most well-rounded and holistic approaches to your body's wellness. It not only targets building strength and tone in your body, but it also increases your mental energy, alertness, and positivity. You may enter class with distracted or negative thoughts, and leave feeling more grounded and at ease.

Improves your sleep

Believe it or not, a consistent yoga routine before bedtime has been shown to help get you in the right mindset and prepare your body to fall asleep and stay asleep. This is revolutionary now more than ever, as our daily screen times continue to climb, partnered with increasing levels of anxiety and chronic pain across populations. Trying to fall asleep and stay asleep is a difficult feat for many.

Our bodies need to be prepared for bedtime, and establishing a daily "winding down" routine helps to do that. This can include dimming your lights, lighting a candle, putting on your pajamas, brushing your teeth, and ending with gentle yoga.

Try It! Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
Lie down in front of a wall, and lift your legs up to rest against the wall, keeping your back on the floor and your sit bones close to the wall. This pose helps slower heart rate, decreases blood pressure levels, and relaxes the muscles and mind. Let your eyes soften, and remain in this position for 5 to 15 minutes. 


Promotes better self-care

Yoga increases your awareness of your own body and how it responds to your movement. There are not many opportunities in our busy lives where we can stop and simply notice our body's sensations. Yoga helps build our awareness of where there is tightness, stress, and emotions in our bodies, and provides space to release that. It can feel very therapeutic, healing, and sometimes emotional to experience the relief of heavy pain or emotions stored in our bodies. Remember to be gentle with yourself as your grow towards better self-care.

Improves balance and flexibility

Slow and intentional movements partnered with deep breathing increase blood flow in the body and warm up muscles. Channeling slow breath while holding a pose can build strength in the body, while also improving your balance and stability.

Try it! Tree Pose
Balance on one foot, while holding the other foot to your ankle, calf or above the knee (but never on the knee) at a right angle. Bring your palms together at your heart, and imagine gluing your standing leg and "tree" foot together to feel lifted. Find one spot in front of you to focus on that isn't moving, and see how long you can hold the pose. Don't forget to breathe! 

Eases arthritis symptoms

Numerous studies show yoga’s benefits in arthritis, osteopenia, balance issues, oncology, women’s health, chronic pain and other specialties. Gentle or "slow flow" yoga has been shown to ease some of the discomfort of tender and swollen joints for people with arthritis, according to a Johns Hopkins review of 11 recent studies.

Protects body from injury

In general, stretching reduces inflammation in the body and aids in recovery. Typically, we only leave a few minutes to stretch at the end of our exercise routines, or don't stretch at all. This leaves our bodies feeling tight and susceptible to injury. The diversity of movements practiced in yoga strengthen muscles and prevents them from being injured via pull or strain. Yoga also increases oxygen flow through mindful breathing. Breathing is a powerful and often underutilized tool in sports and exercise.

Fosters better connection to self and others

Practicing yoga and joining a studio or community of "yogis" brings a sense of belonging that we all intrinsically desire. Life is better together, and it's normal to feel lonely in different seasons of life. Participating in yoga classes can ease loneliness and provide an environment for group healing and support. Even during one-on-one sessions or smaller classes, loneliness subsides as you feel seen by others and part of something bigger than yourself. 

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