Ten years ago, I would have laughed if someone had invited me to a yoga class. I mean, yoga is for tree-hugging hippies that want to bend in half but not actually work out, right?
Oh, have I seen the error in my ways! I’m now 45 and regularly practice. I’d have it no other way after discovering the unexpected benefits of yoga.
Something Old and Something New to Reveal Unexpected Benefits of Yoga
In 2022, I decided to shake up my daily routine. I needed a fresh hobby and outlet. As a busy working mom, I needed my new activity to multitask seriously. It needed to get me moving, be fun yet relaxing, easily accessible and inexpensive, and work into my life seamlessly. Considering these requirements, getting acquainted with my unused gym membership only made sense.
I had no idea what I would do at the gym, but the point was to try something new. So, I randomly selected weight training and signed up with a personal trainer. I soon found lifting was falling short of fulfilling my list of duties. But oddly enough, it led me to what I soon discovered gave me so much more than my list had ever dreamed.
Over the few weeks I spent forcing myself through personal training sessions, I watched people emerge from the yoga studio glowing, seriously glowing! Dewy with sweat, their faces held the kind of serene smiles I knew I had to have. I didn’t just want that afterglow; I needed it.
A Yogi is Born
One fine Sunday morning, I walked into my first-ever yoga session. I’d picked a 75-minute Ashtanga Vinyasa class led by Rene – a veteran instructor and teacher beloved by her students. I was sweating within the first 15 minutes. I felt muscles I never knew existed and realized the truth about yoga. It was hard and not for wimps; I stood corrected.
I walked out of that first class exhausted, super relaxed and converted. This was it, and I wanted more. The unexpected benefits of yoga started to spill in from the first class, and I fell head over heels. Without hesitation, I jumped into a full-fledged love affair to discover what more yoga would lend to my mind, body and soul.
Cold Shoulder Melted by Yoga
In late 2020, I developed extreme weakness in my left shoulder. It was to the point where I could barely lift a cup of coffee or drive with my left arm. Seeing a specialist revealed a few tears in my rotator cuff.
I was given cortisone shots and took ibuprofen daily to ease the pain. I did physical therapy three days a week for three months. It helped but didn’t resolve.
Guess what. After about two weeks of doing yoga, I noticed the weakness in my left shoulder or arm had disappeared. I felt strong and no pain whatsoever. I was shocked and curious about what other unexpected benefits yoga had in store for me.
New Wardrobe, Here I Come
Two months into my practice, I noticed a significant unexpected benefit of yoga; weight loss. I’d been going hard with cardio three times a week for years because it’s all about that high-intensity workout, right? But no matter how I huffed and puffed, my weight didn’t budge.
After eight weeks of yoga, I was down 10 lbs with no expectation to do so. Excuse me? I was looking for a new hobby, but now my clothes were loose. I was here for it! What else you got, Yoga?
Welcome Back, Sweet Dreams
I love my kids more than anything. However, since my dear children arrived, I’ve struggled to sleep soundly through the night. Even after my kids no longer pulled me from my slumber, I fought for uninterrupted nights. I still found myself waking up several times a night. I began to think this was just how it was now.
Then I discovered a very lovely unexpected benefit of yoga. Sleep! Sweet, sweet sleep. I fall asleep within minutes of my head touching the pillow, and nights of intermittent sleep have all but disappeared. How I didn’t know this before, I don’t know. But better late than never.
What Back Problems
The pandemic brought a lot of unwanted side effects. A big one for me was back pain. I spent thousands of dollars between my chiropractor, getting massages and creating an ergonomic workspace. I started morning and evening stretching routines, swapped out desk chairs, tried footrests, and tested out standing desks. Nothing worked.
Two months after starting yoga, my lower back pain was literally gone. Vanished. Amen to that!
Bring it on
Remember old me? The one who thought Yoga was basically the lazy person’s workout? She had no idea. No other physical activity has challenged me like this.
Two months into my yoga practice, I could easily glide through a session. But I don’t. I challenge myself to do more with every class I take. Whether it’s a deeper split, trying a bend, or going lower into a push-up, I push myself further each time. I challenge my mind to control my body with precision.
Calm the Mind
I’ve noticed that since I started practicing yoga, my ability to draw myself to focus has grown exponentially.
In the beginning, I struggled to calm my mind. I’d frequently check my watch for social media alerts and texts, and thoughts of work and home tasks bombarded me. It was ridiculous. But with every class I took, my mental chaos diminished. I found myself zoning in more on my breath, and my mind calmed.
Now, the minute I step into a yoga class, I’m laser focused. Best of all, I’ve discovered this focus has transferred into other areas of my world. I’m now more present in my day-to-day life.
A Sense of Belonging
I’m now a regular in Rene and Carolyn’s classes, and it feels wonderful. They have created a safe and supportive space to explore self-discovery by challenging my body and mind with others. Not only am I reaping the physical benefits of a consistent yoga practice, but I’m now part of a community.
The shared experience of practicing yoga brings us together no matter how different our lives are outside the studio. We all know each other by name and often come early and stay late after class to chat about the practice. We’re all there on our own journey, but we encourage and celebrate each other along the way. I’m all in for that!
One Step Closer to Hugging a Tree
Yoga has drastically changed my life. I’m still a work in progress. Aren’t we all? But these days, I smile more and sweat the small stuff less. I mindfully breathe throughout the day and close my eyes between meetings to meditate.
The journey of yoga is one I’m in for life—the final destination, unknown. The only limitations are the ones I set in my mind.
Even the most enlightened yogis have more to explore. I’ve only just begun and have a long journey ahead. I’m ready. Each time I unroll my mat, I strive to go a little further.
I am so excited to discover what the world of yoga will open to me. I welcome it all with open arms.
If you’ve never tried yoga or it’s been some time since you’ve practiced, now is the perfect time to start. Whether at home or a studio, get on a mat and discover the unexpected benefits of yoga for yourself.
Have you tried yoga? If so, what was/is your experience?
For more self-care ideas, read our wellness blogs.