hese days, it can feel like your whole days are consumed with work or school, your at-home responsibilities, financial obligations, and then, of course, don’t forget that you need to set aside some time to see your friends and family. It can feel like there is a constant flow of responsibilities, with not a lot of time for yourself. 

Mental and physical health in the US has far surpassed a crisis point, with more and more people plagued with mental exhaustion and ill physical health, but unsure about where to even begin to help themselves. It’s understandable, and the process of admitting that you don’t spend near enough time taking care of yourself and then doing something about it can be overwhelming. Sometimes the very idea of taking proper care of ourselves is so exhausting that it becomes easier to just, well, not.  

The best advice is to take baby steps, and start small. Taking care of your mental and physical health doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and it isn’t as insurmountable of a task as it might feel. One of the best things you can do to help improve both your mental and physical health is the simple activity of yoga. You don’t have to be a pro at yoga either to do it! Yoga is perfect and friendly for both newbies and the experienced alike. All you need is an open space, a flat surface, and your comfy clothes!

Here’s what you can find here:

  • Info about yoga and quick, simple yoga moves
  • The physical benefits of yoga
  • The mental benefits of yoga
Man in a fitness space doing the seal yoga pose.
   Yoga is a no-frills activity that anyone can do. 

All You Need to Know About Yoga

By now you’ve learned it’s good for your mental and physical health, but what does “doing yoga” really entail?

What You Need to Get Started

If you’ve never done yoga ever in your life, don’t fear or feel like you’re way too inexperienced to even begin! It can be overwhelming, but there’s really no simpler and beneficial activity you could do for your mind and body. A perfect starting point is to buy a super cute and comfy yoga mat! This cheap and simple cork yoga mat is not only perfect for beginners, but also really cute and stylish, allowing you to fit right in among even the most experienced of people! It even includes tiny diagrams of popular yoga poses as a helpful reminder.  

Yoga mats allow you to have a soft and comfortable surface to work with, and also prevent slippage from your hands and feet. When starting out in yoga, it’s common to feel nervous or insecure, not wanting it to appear obvious that you’re pretty novice to the whole thing! Having a good yoga mat will prevent you from slipping and help you maintain control. It’s the perfect first step. 

Basic Yoga Moves 

Knowing the health benefits of yoga is great, but before we jump into that, it’s helpful to know a few basic yoga moves that are designed for both the inexperienced and experienced alike. This helpful beginners guide to yoga moves features super simple exercises that anyone can do. Some exercises that you might already be familiar with include the “downward dog,” which is simply just standing on your toes and then bending forward, placing your hands down and arching your back into a v-shape. It stretches several muscles! 

The tree pose is the quintessential yoga pose that promotes relaxation and stability. All you have to do is stand with one foot against your knee, standing up straight, and placing your hands together in front of you. See? You’re already looking just like a pro, and you’re helping your mind and body while you’re at it! The benefits of yoga, both mental and physical, are extensive, and practicing yoga is known for its simplicity and low commitment. 

The Physical Benefits of Yoga

Even doing just a few simple exercises can be enough to feel a difference in your physical health. 

Person rolling out a yoga mat.
Roll out your mat and spend just 15 minutes a day doing yoga and the physical benefits are plentiful!

Pain Relief

Chronic pain, or the occasional but super painful and annoying backache, have been proven to be alleviated through practicing yoga. With a lot of yoga moves requiring intense stretching of all the muscles, especially your back and spine muscles, there is some relief involved in yoga. Stretching those muscles for as long as you do in yoga, and with the intentionally strong stretches involved, it can be really beneficial for pain. 

Chronic pain symptoms, like those of arthritis, have also been shown to improve with yoga, for the same reasons that back pain can be relieved. Yoga is so widely practiced, and has been for centuries, because of how it encourages intentional stretching and light physical work. Inflammation and muscle pain can really benefit from some simple but really good stretching! The symptoms of chronic pain are experienced by more people than you may realize, and sometimes it feels like there’s no relief in sight. The simple act of breathing intentionally and slowly paired with light stretching and exercise, while maybe not being a cure-all, can really be helpful in aiding some of those symptoms. If you find yourself struggling with chronic pain, turning to yoga might be an answer for you to aid and help with your debilitating and exhausting pain and symptoms. 

Improved Muscular Functions

Practicing yoga can greatly improve your balance, especially as you go from beginner moves to the more advanced ones that require and promote more stability and core control. The super slow movements mean that you’re holding these positions for longer than you’re probably used to, which is great for the gentle improvement of balance, core strength, and even flexibility. The more advanced yoga poses can force you into some positions that your muscles aren’t used to, but over time, you will get stronger and more flexible. Having good balance and flexibility has also been shown to reduce the likelihood of developing inflammation or chronic pain as you age. 

The increased oxygen and reduced inflammation has a domino effect on your physical health, as less inflammation can mean a healthier heart. It goes without saying, but having a healthy heart is one of the important and most notable benefits of yoga! A happy heart means a lot less pain and greater overall well-being for your whole body. The best part about this particular benefit is that yoga is light physical exercise, and doesn’t require you getting super sweaty or having a rapid heart-rate to get any heart benefits. 

The physical benefits of yoga are widespread and easily attainable. You don’t have to run a marathon or be a division one athlete to regain some of your physical health and improve on your overall health. Just grab the mat and spend a few minutes practicing yoga to get some good stretching and core exercise in!

The Mental Benefits of Yoga

You should always make time for your mental health, and yoga is a great way to fill that time!

Man in a clear space sitting in the meditative position with his eyes closed.
The mental benefits of yoga are just as important and plentiful as the physical. 

Stress and Anxiety Relief

The mental health crisis is very real, and it can be incredibly difficult to back away from the ongoing list of adult responsibilities and the growing pile of work. But your mental health really does come first, and it’s absolutely crucial to cut out time from your day to focus on your mental health and wellbeing. 

Yoga is the perfect activity to improve your mental health as it doesn’t require a whole lot of your time. Just 15 minutes of your time dedicated to yoga is enough to really take care of yourself and your mental health. With intentional, slow, deep breathing, yoga makes you center and ground yourself, encouraging you to get in touch with yourself and empty your mind. Not only that, but it promotes mindfulness and relaxation, which have been shown to improve stress levels and reduce anxiety symptoms. 

Depression Relief

One of the coolest mental health benefits of yoga comes from its ability to reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can influence levels of serotonin, which regulates mood and happiness. Studies showed that those who participated in and practiced yoga, specifically doing exercises that were targeted at regulating breathing, had lower levels of depression symptoms just after two weeks. The promotion of mindful breathing can be especially beneficial in improving and easing symptoms of depression. 

Yoga has been around for centuries, and for good reason. It doesn’t require a whole lot of time or discipline, and is also a pretty low equipment activity. With its promotion of relaxation, breathing, and mindfulness, the health benefits are real. Helping to relieve pain, improve your cardiovascular and heart health, as well as providing a source of anxiety, stress, and depression relief, it’s the perfect activity for anyone to try! Experience not at all required. 

Aug 13, 2021