If you’ve recently taken up yoga, you’re probably waiting to reap the benefits of the practice. While some benefits are loud and clear, others are more subtle. Sometimes, this can lead us to believe that our time on the yoga mat isn’t making a difference and leave us feeling disheartened. Thankfully, that’s rarely the case! Typically, yoga practice starts to make an impact in as little as 4 weeks. In this article, we explore 9 signs that your yoga is making an impact.
Regular yoga practice will stretch and strengthen your body muscles. If you’re noticing that you’re stronger and more flexible, your yoga is making an impact! Popular postures like the plank are designed to strengthen your abs, shoulders, arms and legs. Many beginners struggle with flexibility. After a few weeks of practising postures like downward-facing dog or the warrior, you’ll probably start to notice a difference in flexibility – even if you were super bendy to start with!
If you practice yoga regularly, your overall fitness may have improved. When thinking about fitness, many of us think of intense gym sessions or sweat-inducing runs; however, yoga can also improve your fitness. Unlike the gym, yoga improves your fitness peacefully and holistically by combining aspects of cardio, functional and strength training. Better still, the workout can be done at your own pace from the comfort of your living room.
Weight loss is another sign that your yoga is making an impact. While hot yoga is one of the best ways to lose weight, an everyday gentle yoga session can also help you shed the pounds. Regular yoga practice rules the metabolic system and will help burn fat, resulting in weight loss over a period of time. Daily yoga can also stabilise your hormonal balance, which can normalise your body weight. Yoga practice also lowers your cortisol level, the hormone that is released in response to low blood-glucose concentration and stress. As well as helping you to feel better in yourself, this can lead to less overeating and result in weight loss. If you’ve noticed a decrease in your appetite, your yoga is probably making an impact!
Regular yoga practice boosts your energy levels. Practising for a few minutes each day will provide a noticeable energy boost to keep you feeling fresh for longer. Using a combination of breath and bodywork, yoga can increase your energy levels in as little as 10 minutes. Practising for at least 10 minutes will open and cleanse the chakras – the main energy points in the body. The best poses for boosting energy are those that extend the spine, such as Tree Pose. This asana allows energy to flow through the body and encourage the intake of more breath.
Yoga can drastically reduce stress levels. In fact, many workplaces now offer lunchtime yoga classes because it’s proven to be an excellent stress buster. For best results, your yoga practise should be made up of 3 elements; breathing, postures and meditation. Research has shown that people who practice all three of these elements are better at regulating their heart-rate variability. Typically, this means that the heart rate is lower, allowing the body to respond to stress in a better way. If you’ve noticed an improvement in your sleep, this could also be down to stress reduction. Studies have shown that daily yoga practice can reduce, and in some cases prevent, insomnia.
Daily yoga practice can make you a happier person. Research has shown that people who practice yoga and meditation regularly have higher levels of serotonin – the hormone known as the ‘happiness hormone’. It’s also believed that long-term practitioners have more mass in the part of the brain associated with contentment.
If you’ve noticed better focus and concentration, your yoga is making an impact! Asanas and meditation require you to focus on your breathing. This process of noticing your breath calms the mind and makes you more mentally relaxed. This mental stability then allows you to collect and retain more information. Meditating for just a few minutes each day can result in better focus and concentration. By reducing physical tension and mental stress, we can recall thoughts easier and organise the mind. When we are fully relaxed, we can make better use of our mental facilities.
If you’re finding the postures easier to practice, your yoga is making an impact. For most people, this is one of the first things they notice after starting yoga. When you first begin, it’s normal for your strength and flexibility to be limited. Because of this, many of the asanas are hard, or even impossible, to practice. After just a few weeks, you should start to see a difference and many of the asanas should become easier. For best results, try to maintain a regular practice schedule that fits with your lifestyle. While daily practice is great, weekly practice will also achieve great results.
The final thing you may notice is improved posture. For many of us, correct posture is hard to maintain – particularly those that spend all day at a computer! When you’re tired, it can be easy to let your posture slip and end up hunched over your desk. While this may feel comfy at the time, it’s likely to result in backache and headaches long term. Thankfully, yoga can teach us the correct posture and build the muscle strength needed to maintain it.
So, there you have it – 9 signs your yoga is making an impact. While some of these benefits can be seen immediately, others take time to achieve. Remember that yoga is a lifelong journey and success can only be achieved through time and dedication. For best results, we recommend putting on your yoga hoodie at least twice per week when possible. If you can’t attend a weekly class, home practice is a great alternative.