A common misconception of yoga is that people think you have to be a contortionist to reap the rewards of any practice. I get it! Yoga can be intimidating for those who are less flexible, but the beauty of this practice is that it has so many variations – covering beginner to expert, slow to fast-paced, and it's actually not all about increasing your mobility (while this is a great bonus).
I like to think of yoga as an all-encompassing way to move the body. Not only will you see physical results, but it also helps to support your insides. By engaging our ‘prana’ (energy or life force that we receive from various things including clean eating) yoga can be best used as a tool to achieve more holistic standards of wellness.
For those new to the yoga scene, or a little lost in their practice, here are 5 alternate ways that your body and mind can benefit from getting bendy:
The first step in harnessing all the benefits of yoga is to fuel your body with nutritious, fresh foods. Once we are fully energised, yoga can actually help us digest this food and boost our metabolism.
I personally like to fill myself up with a plant-based meal from Soulara before beginning my yoga flow, ready-made and packed full of nutritious goodness to boost that ‘prana’ I mentioned earlier. To help my body digest, I’ll practise some poses that work to massage our inner organs and therefore aid with this digestive process. And in addition, there are some incredible breathing exercises that work well to improve gut health.
Never underestimate the power of efficient digestion! Not only does this help our gut health, but is known to work hand-in-hand with our mental health too.
The slowness and focus needed during yoga is an effective tool for improving our strength and balance. By engaging your muscles during different movements and poses, we are actually enhancing our coordination and control over our own bodies, necessary for better balance.
Having a healthy balance system allows us to move our bodies more freely with less worry about injury, and helps to keep us perfectly aligned – vital for the practice of yoga.
One of yoga’s best benefits is that it has the power to improve cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation surrounding key organs, by increasing circulation. This means that by practising yoga regularly, we are effectively reducing our chances of heart disease and high blood pressure.
4. Support posture Much like the magical ways yoga improves balance, the alignment of our bodies through this practice is a great way to get your posture in tip-top shape. A few minutes in the morning before you sit down at your desk, or at the end of a stressful day will improve your core strength and work to make sure you’re sitting and standing straighter than ever before - just one practice can make you feel taller!
This one may be obvious, but some of the movements during yoga are known to release endorphins. When you’re required to be in uncomfortable positions, a stable and calm breath promotes grace under pressure, which we take with us way beyond the mat and into confronting and stressful situations. Not many other practices work to connect your mind to your body like yoga, allowing such retrospective time to sit with your thoughts and feelings. This ability to be present in a very fast-paced life/society works wonders for alleviating underlying stress and anxiety.
Hopefully these humble benefits of yoga have helped to open your eyes to the many ways this magical movement can benefit us. Making time to roll out your mat and bend into your downward dog will do much more for you than increase flexibility.
In light of International Yoga Day, I’ve created a custom flow in collaboration with Soulara, focusing on supporting digestion and boosting metabolism to align your mind, body and soul-ara. Tune into our morning session @livesoulara on June 21st where I’ll guide you through the flow and chat further about my ever-evolving relationship with yoga and my own body.
Soulara is a plant-based, ready-made meal delivery company. Our in-house chefs take inspiration from all over the globe to bring you new and exciting meals every week, while our in-house dieticians ensure each meal is nutritionally balanced. This allows you to get plenty of the nutrients you need to thrive while on a plant-based diet, even protein.
As well as being 100% plant-based, Soulara cooks all our meals fresh and uses atmosphere-modified packaging to keep the meals as nutritious and delicious as the day we cooked them. Due to this, you get to enjoy restaurant-quality meals for less from the comfort of your own home.
Whether you’re looking to explore the world of plant-based living and don’t know where to start or simply looking to eat healthier and enjoy more veggies, Soulara is an easy, affordable, and delicious option. Time to feel the plant power, meals starting from $9.10 each.
Passionate about teaching the ‘art of slowing down’, Kate Kendall is the Co-Founder & Director of Yoga at Flow Athletic, in Sydney’s Paddington. With over 2000 hours of yoga teacher training, Kate covers everything from calming flows, to dynamic and upbeat movements.
Kate co-created the unique and first of its kind, ‘Flow After Dark, Yoga Silent Disco’ events around Australia, bringing her own sense of flair and fun to the practice of yoga. She moved on to lead her own Inspired Leaders Yoga Teacher Training and mentoring, and created her own 4 week e-course, The Space Between, with a focus on mindfulness and slowing down - saying her goal for her students is to ‘make their default mode “calm”’. Also a proud author, Kate released her own book ‘Life in Flow’ in 2019, that spreads the word of the importance of balance through yoga, meditation and breathwork.
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