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Sporty or Spiritual – What’s the Main Benefit of Yoga?

May 27, 2024

Yoga is an ancient practice with roots reaching back thousands of years in Asia. Thanks to the plethora of benefits, Asians never ceased practicing different types of yoga. In the United States, yoga has almost exploded in popularity over the past decade and a half. We love introducing more practitioners to yoga and helping others continue to grow their practice.

So, what’s the attraction, and how do practitioners benefit from doing yoga? For the ancients, practicing yoga was about spiritual benefits. Today, most practitioners love yoga for different reasons. Here is a look at some of the biggest benefits.


The Main Benefit(s) of Yoga

If you’ve been practicing yoga for a while, what was it that made you start? Or if you’re thinking about joining your first yoga class [link to the other blog], what are you hoping to get out of it? For the ancient Indian practitioners, practicing poses and meditation were ways to pursue enlightenment and discover their real selves. Modern-day practitioners tend to stay with their practice for its health and wellness benefits.


Practicing Yoga for Fitness

Fitness was probably not on the minds of the ancient practitioners. However, many modern yogis enjoy the feeling of improving their strength, flexibility, and mobility by practicing yoga regularly.

There are no hard and fast rules as to how many times a week you should practice. Joining one yoga class every week will reap bigger benefits than none. Spending 15 minutes at home every other day on top of that will be even better.

Yoga may not be considered exercise as such, but join one of our Advanced Flow classes, and you’ll know that your body has worked. Over time, yoga can lower blood pressure and contribute to heart health.


Yoga for Stress Release

Aside from physical advantages, practicing yoga has benefits for your mental well-being, too. Setting aside time away from work pressures, family demands, and phone notifications can lower your stress levels. Replacing those stressors with yoga to align breathing exercises with gentle movement can improve your mental well-being even more.

Combine your practice with more mindful eating and a quality sleep routine, and you’re on your way to stress-proofing your life significantly. Studies have also shown that yoga may help anxiety sufferers deal with their symptoms.


Using Yoga to Balance the Impact of Other Sports

Practicing yoga can effectively support other sports and even counterbalance some of their detrimental effects or become a part of your recovery from an injury.

Depending on the asanas you choose, yoga can help you rebuild strength after time away from working out or practicing sports. Practicing gently and including regular stretches in your yoga sessions can limit the potential negative impacts of running by helping you care for your body. Certain yoga poses are great at minimizing back pain and even the symptoms of arthritis.


  • Practicing Yoga for Spiritual Growth

With all this focus on health and fitness, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there is no longer a spiritual element to yoga today.

That would be wrong. For many practitioners, combining physical, mental, and spiritual benefits is exactly what attracted them to yoga in the first place. Yoga can offer a pathway into a practice that’s more focused on meditation and mindfulness.

You may also want to explore the transformational effects of sound baths or combine asanas with increasingly advanced breathwork to create pathways for spiritual growth.


Practicing Yoga for Spiritual Growth

  • Enjoying the Yoga Community

Perhaps most importantly, yoga gives you access to a community of like-minded people. Whenever you join a class at Uptown Yoga, you’re sharing a room with a supportive group of kindred spirits. No matter what initially attracted you to yoga, sharing the energy of a class helps you progress in your practice.

Our instructors regularly see practitioners taking poses further than they previously could when they’re surrounded by others. There is no judgment about what brought you here, simply a recognition of the fact that everyone in the room loves yoga.

Allow Your Practice to Evolve

There is no right or wrong reason to start or practice yoga. 33 million Americans practice yoga regularly. That’s 10% more than before the pandemic and more than 12 million more than in 2010. Practitioner numbers briefly exceeded 34 million during the pandemic, which may be related to lockdowns and other social restrictions.

Aside from showing the impressive growth of yoga, these figures show that there are potentially 33 million reasons for practicing. As a result, there will also be countless benefits yogis experience as their practice develops. All are valid.

As you continue to practice yoga and work with different instructors, you might find that your focus shifts and the benefits you experience with it. For example, we have clients joining us because they want to improve their flexibility first and foremost. While practicing, they may notice that breathwork is the key to allowing their body to relax and move deeper into poses previously unavailable to them. In turn, breathwork may become a gateway to meditation.

On the other hand, you may start practicing yoga for stress relief only to discover that you love working on challenging physical asanas. Those transitions are a normal part of your yoga journey.


Join the Yoga Community at Uptown Yoga

At Uptown Yoga, we’ve taken great care to create a warm, friendly, and welcoming community, no matter why you’re joining us. Our instructors’ journeys vary as much as our practitioners’ reasons for joining us, and we’re delighted to have brought together such a diverse group of people to support you in your journey to grow into your strongest self, mentally and physically.

Sporty or spiritual – for most practitioners the answer lies somewhere in between. Wherever your yoga journey takes you, we love to be part of it. Join us today for one of our regular classes or take a look at special events like kitty yoga or our awesome retreats abroad.

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