The benefits of yoga are endless, and few know this practice as well as the curators of yoga site, Breathe Repeat. Sure you know that yoga helps you find your center, but Breathe Repeat is tipping our readers off to 5 not-so-known facts about the popular practice. Encouraging all beings everywhere to put a little east in their west!
1. You can be a yogi and still eat cheese and maybe even (gulp) meat!
Being a yogi doesn’t mean you have to be a militant vegan, it simply means you’re aware of what you put in your body. What does this mean in practice? It means you are willing to examine different diets, a spectrum of nutrition philosophies, your customs, your habits, and what your body needs and then make more mindful decisions about what you eat and where your food comes from.
2. Just because you can’t touch your toes, doesn’t mean you can’t do yoga!
That’s right. You do not have to be flexible to do yoga! This isn’t 1986, you’re (probably) not wearing a leotard, and the goal isn’t to twist your body into a pretzel like Jane Fonda! In fact, many of today’s yoga classes have been modified for the average person who has tight hips, hamstrings and shoulders from stress and way too much time sitting at a desk. So don’t let a lack of flexibility keep you from rolling out your mat. In our experience teaching, we’ve found that tighter students often learn alignment faster, because their bodies give them so much feedback. Moreover, the less range of motion you have, the more you will benefit from adding yoga into your routine, or as we like to say, “putting a little east in your west.” Who cares if you can’t put your leg over your head? As our teacher, Rodney Yee, says, if you’re looking for the measurable instead of pursuing the immeasurable, you’re kind of missing the point…
3. Yoga heals (But, not always…)
Yoga can be an incredible form of therapy that can help heal anything from an aching low back to chronic headaches; or, it might not.
We’ve found that sometime healing happens through yoga. We’re talking true-blue, problem-solved, nothing-short-of-miraculous healing. It can happen on a physical level as well as on an emotional level. We’ve witnessed the alchemizing, healing effects of yoga time and time again. However, yoga’s magic doesn’t come with a money back guarantee. There’s no formula that works for everyone all of the time. The good news is that even if yoga doesn’t end up being the miracle cure you were hoping for, in the meantime it can teach you things like patience, acceptance and devotion. These qualities may lead you into a different dimension of healing that you never would have found without first trying a little downward facing dog!
4. Yoga is not just about looking better in your skinny jeans.
Although it turns out that just a few sun salutations a day can increase your overall strength considerably, yoga’s benefits extend far beyond just breaking a sweat. Yes, some classes — especially sweaty vinyasa flow or a rigorous ashtanga practice — will help you whittle your middle and burn off the gluten-free brownies you can’t stop eating but, once you start practicing yoga regularly, you’ll find that it’s a lot more than just physical exercise.
Looking to just burn calories? Try the treadmill. Seeking to infuse your life with more meaning? Better roll out your mat.
5. Tantra actually has very little to do with sex
Sting put “Tantric Sex” on the map when he famously said he could “go for hours” with the help of his yogapractice.
Yeah…. that’s not exactly the whole story.
The truth is, Tantra is an entire movement, a style of meditation and ritual that arose in medieval India, that’s all-encompassing. It’s about way more than just sexual endurance (though we agree, that’s important). Tantra’s origins can be traced all the way back to the Rigveda (a very, very old, sacred text). In previous Indian philosophies, yogis thought they needed to shed the body in order to reach enlightenment. They believed the whole world was an illusion, and you had to leave your body to find divinity. Tantra involved a major shift away from shedding the body toward wanting to preserve the body, exalt the body, celebrate the body! Hence the yoga practice. How could the yogis of yesteryear make their bodies as strong, fit, healthy, and efficient as possible? Through consistent movement, meditation and breath work, of course!
Yes, there are “sexual rites” involved, but the movement as a whole was about revaluing the human form. How sexy is that?