Yoga can be a life-changing journey. It can help you discover new things about yourself and the world around you in ways that no other exercise regime or trendy diet can.
While it does take time, patience, persistence, as well as an open heart and mind before you may be able to see some of these seemingly miraculous changes, they’re certainly accessible to anyone who’s willing to develop their practice. Bad health habits that you didn’t even know you really had may be transformed or completely eliminated for the better.
Here are just a few examples of common bad habits that often go unnoticed for lots of people. Yoga can help you become more aware of them if they apply to your life.
1. Obsessing Over the Scale
Yogi philosophy teaches us not to become attached to a particular outcome, and for many, the idea of working toward a goal weight is especially difficult to let go of in their minds. Bringing together mind, body, and spirit in our practice, we’re encouraged to expand our awareness so that we may become curious about our physical bodies and observe our mental processes from a calm distance. This allows us to develop unconditional self-love just as we are in the present.
Cardio workouts and strength training can both be pretty taxing on the body. Do it 5 or 6 times a week for a prolonged period and your body may show signs of overtraining — like fatigue, injury, mood changes, sleep problems, or an increased resting heart rate. While you can definitely work up a good sweat with yoga, it’s a very low-impact form of activity and certain styles like restorative yoga are wonderful for nurturing your body while keeping everything balanced.
3. Forgetting to Stretch
It’s always ideal to stretch a little after warming up before a workout and then taking a little extra time to stretch as you cool down. This helps to improve flexibility and prevent injury, but it also means taking extra time to do this before and after your main traditional workout. The great thing about yoga is that in most practices that aren’t simply just meditative, flexibility is worked right into the sequences.
4. Eating ‘Healthy’ Processed Foods
Is food really healthy if it’s heavily processed? Anyone on a regular diet or fitness journey may only be concerned with calories, fat, carbs, and protein, but yoga teaches us to connect with Mother Nature and become more conscious about what we put into our bodies. Many yogis are vegetarians and vegans who aim to eat organic foods that are as close to their natural states as possible.
5. Not Breathing Properly
Failing to learn how to inhale and exhale properly during physical activity can cause your performance to suffer and even make you feel faint or nauseous — especially if it’s high-intensity. It’s an integral part of yoga to synchronize the breath with our body movement so we can build our strength, remain calm when we have to hold uncomfortable poses, sink deeper into certain poses, and elegantly flow through the sequences. There’s perhaps no better form of physical activity than yoga that gets you in touch with your breath.
6. Not Listening to Your Body
As we work hard to eat very specific healthy foods and work out in very specific ways, sometimes it’s easy for us to get caught up in making sure we’re always checking those tasks off our daily to-do lists even when our bodies are asking us to change something. This is how overtraining, injury, weight loss plateaus, stress, anxiety, sleep problems, cravings, and all sorts of other things can manifest. Yoga naturally helps us become more mindful about tuning into the subtle signs our bodies are giving us so we can nurture them accordingly.
7. Avoiding Inner Change
Lastly, yoga has one huge advantage over traditional diet and fitness plans, and that’s the component of personal growth that happens on a very deep, individual level. Other diet and fitness plans often place all emphasis on developing the physical body and not enough on developing the mental or emotional parts of ourselves. Yoga is the most well-rounded, integrative practice you can do. After all, it’s not just a fitness trend — it’s a way of life!
Image (edited) via Kane Z Chen