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Yoga may appeal to us because of the perception that people who practice yoga have thin, toned bodies. Or that practicing yoga will make our butts look great in Lululemon pants. I’ll be honest, that may have been my motivation to attend my first yoga class. However, once I started my practice, my reasons for continuing totally changed. Well, I still want a great butt but that’s besides the point. LOL.

There are real health benefits to practicing yoga. Here are some great reasons to get on the mat!

1.Yoga is a wonderful way to lessen the effects of stress on the body.  Practicing yoga requires you to let go of the worries of the day. Through focused training, you will find peace and space to breath. Yoga has been shown to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Your emotional health, mood and ability to meet life’s challenges will improve as a result.

[Credit: SELF]

2. Yoga improves your flexibility and range of motion. Assuming different postures, or asanas, allows you to become familiar with your body, sensations and abilities. With consistent practice, you will be able to push boundaries. When I started I could barely touch my toes.

[Credit: Greatist]

3. In yoga, breathing is key. As you practice, you will learn to take deeper, fuller breaths. This will get more oxygen throughout your body and to your brain, helping you experience greater relaxation and improved lung function.

4. Yoga strengthens the body from the inside out. I especially noticed how much stronger my back and core became and quickly. Your arms and shoulder strength will be greatly improved from using your own body weight as resistance in postures like warrior, plank and crow.

5. As a result of a stronger back and core, your posture will become corrected, your spine will elongate and you will experience less back, shoulder and neck pain. This is especially beneficial for those of us who sit in front of our computers all day.

[Credit: VertiHealth]

6. Yoga postures promote improved circulation and cardiovascular health. Your cells will be replenished with fresh blood that gets redirected and delivers oxygen more efficiently to your organs.

Remember yoga is for everyone. You don’t need to be super flexible, svelte or toned to begin. Most classes offer modifications for every level of practitioner.  You don’t need to join a studio to practice either. (Although it can help motivation). All that is required with yoga is a mat and some quiet space. Enjoy! Namaste.

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