Yoga is the big fitness and wellness story of 2020, but… It is also true that you will hear the sentence "I always wanted to try yoga" more often than "I have been practicing yoga for years." If you are the member of the group of people who says the former, we would like to help you by giving you the top 5 reasons why you should try yoga if you want to get fit.
Before get to that, though, we would like to provide you with some of the most important reasons why you should try yoga. Some of them are more obvious than others and of course, there are way more than just five reasons to try yoga, but we thought these five will appeal to the vast majority of people who are toying with the idea to start practicing this sport.
We can also offer you some tips on gear, such as the best yoga mats and yoga leggings, as well as yoga blocks and yoga wheels. As minimalist of a sport as yoga is, you don't want to feel unconformable doing the different poses and also, especially if you are a beginner, some items, like the yoga blocks or yoga wheels, can help you perform exercises with more ease.
Yoga can be performed at home, on the floor, in your jogging pants and just a t-shirt. One thing you will definitely need, though, is a reusable water bottle, because 1) you will want to drink during exercising and 2) there is enough plastic waste in the oceans as is, no need to add to it by drinking water out of single use plastic bottles.
Since yoga mostly consists of stretching-type exercises, there is no need to warm up, although you can try and perform breathing exercises to calm the mind and be ready for some serious yoga.
Some running watches, like the Apple Watch Series 5, the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro or the Polar Ignite, have a guided breathing exercise function which can be just the thing you need if you are doing yoga not as part of a group. Also, these wearables can track your sessions as well, so you can check how your performance improved over time.
This guy looks that cheery because he is not suffering back pain
(Image credit: Gaiam)
Let's start with stating the obvious: yoga is essentially a stretching-based exercise form and by practicing it regularly, you will loosen your muscles and joints, which will in turn make you more mobile and flexible. You only realise how inflexible you are when you can finally do movements you were not able to do for years.
Improving mobility is especially important for people who do desk-based work and sit around for elongated periods of time. Sitting stationary is not something our bodies are adapted to and in general, people are not famous for sitting at their office desks with straight backs.
Although yoga is most famous for making you more stretchy, many of the exercises also improve your strength as well, especially the strength of your core muscles. Having strong core muscles have a range of benefits in itself, too, like lower back stabilisation, so doing yoga will further reduce back pain issues.
Best yoga poses to improve core strength include the Boat pose, which is similar to V-sits, the Chair pose, which is similar to squat holds, the Crane pose, pictured above, and the Plank pose, which is essentially doing planks, as the name suggests.
Should you do yoga if you are pursuing any other types of sport principles already? Yes, you definitely should. Regardless of the type of sport you are already doing, yoga can help you perform it better. Even if you are doing non-movement intense sports like e-sports or chess, yoga can help you keep a better posture by strengthening your core.
Should you be a runner, cyclist or triathlete, yoga can help you avoid injuries by making you more flexible and mindful about your body in general. Not to mention the improved core strength which can also be a huge benefit for active sportspeople.
Another benefit for swimmers, for example, is improved breathing. Certain types of yoga, like Pranayama, can significantly improve your breathing and calm the mind, helping you focus better, all in the same time.