Transform Yourself with Yoga in 2018

New year, new beginnings. It’s a cliché, no doubt, but the idea tends to resonate in all of us. As we enter a new year, we often reflect on the past and set expectations for the future — but are we taking the time to embrace the present? If 2018 is a year of new beginnings, allow it to start right here, right now. Instead of setting lofty goals and putting unnecessary pressure on yourself, make a commitment to yoga this new year and learn to be to be kind to yourself, to be present, and to focus on all of the wonderful things that make you, you.

The beauty of yoga is that, just by practicing, you will achieve many of the “typical” New Year’s Resolutions that many people struggle to achieve. Trying to lose weight? Go to yoga. Want to take better care of your body? Go to yoga. Need to learn to manage stress and anxiety? Go to yoga. Trying to kick that bad habit? You guessed it: yoga.

A common misconception about yoga is that flexibility is not a benefit, it’s a requirement to start. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, those who are hyper-flexible can be more prone to yoga injuries than those of us who are “stiff”, according to Yoga Journal and many other yoga resources. This is not to say that the flexible should not practice yoga, but rather that all yogis should understand the basics of yoga and how to safely get in and out of the posture to avoid injuries on the mat.

“The purpose of yoga is to create strength, awareness and harmony in both the mind and body,” explains Natalie Nevins, DO, a board-certified osteopathic family physician and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor in Hollywood, California. Outside of that purpose, there are myriad benefits that yoga brings that you may not realize.

In an article for Yoga Journal Yoga Journal, author Timothy McCall, M.D., discusses 38 unique benefits of yoga and meditation practices that he’s discerned through his own medical research and personal practice. Here are some of the benefits that stood out:

  1. Weight loss
  2. Makes you happier
  3. Helps you focus
  4. Improved heart health
  5. Fosters a healthy lifestyle
  6. Increased strength
  7. Benefits your relationships
  8. Helps you sleep
  9. Increased flexibility
  10. Perfects your posture
  11. Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown
  12. Protects your spine
  13. Betters your bone health
  14. Increases blood flow
  15. Drains your lymphs and boosts immunity
  16. Drops your blood pressure
  17. Improves balance
  18. Improves your breathing/deepens your lungs
  19. Builds awareness for transformation
  20. Encourages self-care

Whether you’re already a yoga practitioner or you’re interested in trying yoga for the first time, you’ll thank yourself in 2018 for committing to yourself through the practice of yoga.

For beginners who haven’t been to a yoga class before, we recommend beginner-friendly classes and workshops like our Intro To Yoga Series, which will show you the fundamentals of yoga practice: from asanas and pranayama to how to modify poses to keep you from getting injured. If yoga is already part of your routine, perhaps try a continued-education workshop to learn something new and expand on your current practice and deepen your self-awareness. For experienced yogis who have been practicing regularly for at least 6 months, take the opportunity to transform your passion into a career as a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Instructor with our 200-Hour Teacher Training Programs. Been there, done that? Take your practice and instruction to the next level with our 300-Hour Teacher Training programs.