Most people come to yoga in search of a stronger, more flexible body — and maybe a clearer head and a calmer heart, too. And yoga’s amazing for those things. (Not to mention it can help you achieve that enviable yoga posture!)
But picking up an every day (or every week!) practice provides a bunch of other benefits you may never have even thought of.
1. You’ll Learn a Foreign Language
You’ve probably heard of downward-facing dog and child’s pose. But don’t be surprised when your teacher calls poses in Sanskrit, the original language of yoga, said instructor Kino MacGregor.
“You’ll learn a new language in yoga. All the yoga poses have a traditional name in Sanskrit, and as you practice you will naturally become more fluent in the language,” she said. Soon enough, it’ll be second nature to dive into a forward fold when you hear “uttanasana.”
2. You Could Make a Few New BFFs
Yogis are a friendly bunch, and your classmates will be glad to show you where to find props and give you some pointers on mastering the poses — just ask!
“I drove past a local studio for years, afraid to walk in. Now I teach there,” said yoga teacher Jenn Boileau. “I wish I had known how accepting the yoga community would be. Everyone in class was once a beginner, understood my anxiety and was happy to show me around and encourage me.”
3. You’ll Drop That Habit of Comparing Yourself to Others
It can be tempting to compare yourself to more experienced yogis when you’re starting out. But if you stick with it, you’ll soon realize that success is about doing what feels best for you. And that can look different every day, said Jordan Ashley, yoga instructor and founder of Souljourn Yoga retreats.
“Just because your fullest expression of a pose looks different than the person next to you doesn’t mean it’s wrong or right,” said Ashley. “These poses are supposed to bring us closer to this idea of ‘union,’ which is impossible to find if your attention is going outward.”
If you find your eyes wandering around the room, try closing them for a moment of focus and internal contemplation.
4. You’re Gonna Love Your Body — for Real
Many people rely on yoga to tone their bodies. And, sure, you might notice improvements in your appearance over time, but the practice also teaches you how to appreciate your body now, said yoga teacher Nancy Gerstein, author of Guiding Yoga’s Light.
“Yoga keeps me in constant gratitude of my body. While my friends complain about their butts, bellies, wrinkles, thinning hair and varicose veins, I love all of myself and I’m eternally thankful that I can breathe, move and stretch,” she said. “And when my body lets me down, which it eventually will, I’ll know I didn’t take it for granted.”
5. You Might Not Be Able to Stop
Yoga can evolve from a casual hobby to a full-blown obsession — fast.
“Before I started yoga, I wish I knew that it could be so addictive,” said yogi Anastasia Sharova, creator of the yoga and mindfulness blog Happily Globalized. “I started doing yoga to keep myself in a better shape, both physically and mentally. Soon after, I realized that I couldn’t live without the practice and it became a necessity.”