I used to think yoga was dumb, and judged any yogis out there assuming they were all vegan hippies who practice Buddhism and protest for world peace (not that there is anything wrong with vegans, hippies, or Buddhists, this is just the stereotype that I associated with yoga). I clearly remember my boyfriend and I conversing about yoga and I said “I don’t do any of that pussy shit”. He still quotes me on that to this day. I thought I was too much of a badass for yoga, but I failed to acknowledge my anxiety, my poor flexibility, my aches and pains, and my grinding joints. I “thought” I had always cared about my health, lifting heavy weights and eating a “bro food” diet consisting of chicken, broccoli, and rice. Yet my body’s response screamed anything but healthy. I was unwilling to do “any pussy shit” that was actually good for my health.
Around this time, I was struggling with IBS, a digestive disorder triggered by stress and anxiety, among other things. I had read time and time again that yoga was good for relieving symptoms of IBS, but I was too stubborn to listen. Finally, being a college student, my anxiety had escalated to its worst point. I decided to try meditation, and it helped to calm my mind, but my body still felt twisted.
I decided to try a group fitness class in college called Yoga Inversions because I thought doing inversions would be a more badass way of incorporating yoga into my routine. After my first class I quickly realized that yoga was not for the weak, it was really freaking hard and required tremendous strength and balance. I then realized that my judgement, about yoga only being for the weak, was complete bullshit. I was so close-minded to the thought that I could incorporate it into my “badass” routine, without giving anything up.
Yoga starting gaining more popularity on social media, and my feeds starting filling up with pictures of graceful, lean and strong women holding gorgeous poses (and from the two Yoga Inversions classes I attended, I knew those poses were hard AF). I became intrigued. I started stretching more, particularly before and after exercise, and my joints started feeling better. I then researched specific poses that benefit IBS, and to my surprise, they worked. I continued to research, only to find the plethora of benefits yoga has to offer. Here is a list of my 13 favorite benefits, out of probably 50:
1. Improves flexibility
2. Builds muscle strength (I was alllll about having jacked muscles, why did I ignore this??)
3. Perfects your posture
4. Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown (flashback to me sitting there with my grinding joints, hating on yoga)
5. Leads to better bone health
6. Drops your blood pressure
7. Increases heart rate which can fight depression
8. Lowers cortisol levels (cortisol is your stress hormone, which I had a lot of…this fact would have been good to know)
9. Makes you happier
10. Encourages a healthy lifestyle of eating better and moving more
11. Prevents IBS (it’s clearly written, yet I ignored it)
12. Eases pain
13. Boosts inner strength
Needless to say, I regret being stubborn. I could’ve saved myself a lot of pain and stress, but you live and you learn, right? Since incorporating yoga into my weekly routine, I feel better, I move better, and I live better because I now know the value of having an open mind.
To conclude this post, I want to challenge you to give yoga a try if you haven’t already. Start small by simply stretching more, and move into more challenging poses over time. You will soon see the benefits for yourself, and become addicted like I am.