1. You’ll improve flexibility and range of movement. There’s an old yogic saying: You’re only as old as your spine is flexible. It’s God’s honest truth folks: those limbs were made to be moved – not to slowly stiffen up as years pass by. In yoga practice you use your body in versatile ways and come to see its full potential. And the best part of all: with increased flexibility you’ll slowly but surely get rid of ailments connected to lack of movement, such as neck and back pain and tension headaches or migraines.
2. You’ll have a good chance getting rid of nasty infection streaks; most yogis testify that regular practice strengthens your immune system and keeps you healthy. I can sign on this one too: the past 2 winters, which have been my most active yoga-wise, I haven’t been ill for a day. Yoga works particularly well to prevent any diseases connected to lungs, throat or nose, thanks to the deeply cleansing effect of the udjay-breathing. I’ve cured my repeated sinusitis through yoga and managed to stay clear of unnecessary antibiotics for several years.
3. Focus and concentration improves and you’ll find it easier to wind down – even outside yoga class. In asthanga yoga relaxation comes after hard physical labour, which makes it easier for your body to recognize these 2 extremes. Therefore it’ll be easier to reach a relaxed body and mind also from other forms of exercise or work – and to know what real relaxation feels like. In today’s stressed out world, this is not an easy thing to find.
4. You’ll improve physical stamina and endurance.Contrary to what many people think, yoga is – in its most physical forms – a tough and demanding exercise. Doing ashtanga yoga will work up a good sweat and make you tired – just like any other form of demanding physical activity. The only thing you need to take into account is that it takes some time to learn the movements. But after a couple of times you’ll get the hang of it, which means you’ll be able to trip up the tempo and get a more intense workout.
5. It’s super cool. I know, being a believer already I’m bound to say this. But just think of it: which other exercise form lets you test your physical limits – in a safe way? Already at beginner’s level you get to try out movements you never thought you could do, like shoulder stands. It might be scary at first, but when you realize that these cool (and healthy!) poses are not just for experts, it gives you an ego boost like nothing else.
And here I’d like to overthrow another common misconception: yes, yoga means working with both body and mind, but there’s a lot of body in it too. In addition to the satisfaction of mastering poses you can impress family and friends with, your body is going to look good, because yoga is also about stretching, aligning and straightening. Those long, lean muscles are as good a reason as any to start – you can have all the other benefits as nice extras :-).