10 Reasons Yoga Makes Your Life Better

This guest post was written by Doniree Walker, a 20-something blogger, wanderluster, yogini, and advocate for mindfulness, self-awareness, and living with intention. I had the pleasure of spending a fabulous week at SXSW with Doni in March of this year. If I had to describe Doniree in two words it would be yoga foodie. I’d also like to add that this post was contributed in the midst of a cross country move from Boulder to Portland!

  1. Increased Strength. The first thing someone who hasn’t practiced yoga before will tell me is that they don’t do yoga because they’re not “flexible enough/at all.”  I have news for those of you who agree with that statement – SCRATCH THAT.  That doesn’t matter.  Yoga will focus on proper alignment and building strength, and the flexibility will come later.
  2. Increased Flexibility.  With that said, if you aren’t flexible when you start doing yoga, that’s something that will come out of a regular practice as your muscles get stronger.  I can’t do the splits or anything, but I swear I’ve grown an inch since I started practicing regularly because my spine has lengthened and the muscles in my back have become stronger and more flexible.
  3. Stress/Anxiety Management.  The reason I started practicing yoga in the first place was at the recommendation of friends who saw me trying to deal with far too much anxiety on my own.  I was having panic attacks in the shower before work, and panic attacks at night as I tried to sleep.  I had no outlet for this adrenaline that always seemed to course through my veins, and the movement associated with Vinyasa (flow) yoga helped provide a way for that energy to circulate without festering.  Yoga also gave me breathing tools and a way to mentally and emotionally connect the lessons I was learning on the mat with everyday challenges.
  4. Self-Awareness.  What began as a stress management tool has since evolved into a strong introspective and reflective tool.  Yoga connects breath, movement, emotions, actions, and spirit.  A regular practice has helped me examine pieces of my life more closely and make changes and improvements that have largely contributed to overall peace and happiness.  I find inspiration for my writing on the mat, find peace through challenges, and ultimately learn to see life through a lens of love and acceptance – of myself, first and then also of others.
  5. Spiritual Connection.  That being said, there’s an opportunity for a strong spiritual connection and practice in yoga as well.  It certainly can remain a physical practice, and can also be a transformative experience in spiritual growth as well.  Yoga has inspired me to see the world as a much more connected place than I had prior to a regular yoga practice, and has inspired a curiosity about other belief systems that help to further expand my worldview.
  6. Community.  There is certainly community around a yoga studio and yogis in a certain city!  I’ve found this to be true in both cities I’ve practiced in regularly – Minneapolis/St. Paul and Boulder, Colorado.  CorePower Yoga (where I’ve completed a 200-hour Power Yoga Teacher Training program) certainly has a strong, supportive community and other studios as well offer additional workshops and chances to practice a variety of styles with great teachers.  My favorite teachers teach at more than one studio, expanding their reach further out into the community.
  7. Quality Personal Time.  Maybe it’s your thing to get up for a morning run, or curl up with a book, but my down-time often starts with an hour in a yoga class.  I unplug from technology, stop thinking about to-do lists, let go of any challenges or conflicts in my life and spend an hour dedicated to love, growth, and reflection.  If you’re juggling a busy schedule, a hectic routine, or a to-do list that feels unmanageable, squeezing in an hour or two a week in a yoga class is an excellent way to bring a sense of balance to your life.
  8. Work/Life Balance.  On that note, I promise you that the addition of a couple of hours of yoga into your weekly schedule will not put you behind on your personal and professional projects.  If anything, I believe (and have found) that it will make you more inspired, more productive, and more focused.
  9. Self-Confidence.  And not just because yoga means stronger muscles.  I used to think the numbers on a bathroom scale were the best way to track and measure my physical fitness, and have since discovered that the numbers actually don’t matter at all.  Thank goodness!  Yoga’s taught me that it’s less about a number and more about a feeling of capability and strength.  When you find yourself balanced in a standing posture and holding it for longer than you ever thought you could stand on one leg, or fully up in a headstand for the first time, that feeling of capability far outweighs any feeling of “accomplishment” that is seeing a certain number on a scale.  I let go of weight awhile ago, since building muscle means that while shapes and sizes might shift around a little bit – the actual scale number might never change.  And that’s ok, because –
  10. Overall Health.  You should add yoga to your lifestyle for the overall health benefits it provides.  Physical health and healing, emotional balance, mental stability, and control of breath and movement.  I plan to make yoga a lifestyle for me, and will practice as long as I’m alive.  And I’m counting on that to help me live a very, very long time.

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