Lesser-known Benefits of Practicing Yoga
We all know that practicing yoga yields a myriad of health benefits: greater flexibility and strength, lower blood pressure, more awareness, better posture. As a stay-at-home mom of two kids, these are all wonderful health benefits. But, I would like to take a moment and explore the lesser-known benefits of yoga, the ones that have really improved my well-being and helped me hone in my super-mom powers!
Before I got into yoga, I had ridiculously tight shoulders thanks to years of sitting at a desk or computer, and poor posture. Practicing heart openers and grip flip poses, I now have the flexibility to reach that ever elusive spot in the middle of my back. You know what I’m talking about. It’s that one spot that always seems to get an itch that you just can’t quite reach, so you have to chase down your husband (or significant other…or pet) and beg him to scratch your back as hard as he possibly can until it goes away. Unfortunately, husband isn’t always home. (I guess some people go to work for a living!) I surprised myself the day it happened– that I felt the oncoming tingle, and husband was nowhere to be found. Instead of running around like a madwoman and calling in the neighborhood reinforcements, I was able to rotate my arm and shoulder just enough to tackle the itchy beast all by myself! It was a miracle!
Balance poses have improved my ability to tip-toe across the floor of a room in the dark of night when a minefield of dolls, matchbox cars, and building blacks are scattered about. I can now (almost successfully) step gracefully, avoiding each toy without rolling an ankle, stubbing a yogi toe, or screaming out in pain as Barbie’s shoe heel skewers my own heel.
Also thanks to improved balance, I can Warrior 3 while standing in one spot and vacuum an entire room, conserving what little energy I still have.
The Discovery of Side Body
I’m 5’2” and my cupboards are approximately 9,234 feet high, so you can imagine that things get pretty hard to reach. Well, thanks to yoga, I have a new awareness of my side body. No longer do I have to climb on counters, or pull out the stepping stool of shame, to put the dishes away. Now, I can reach the hidden package of cookies on the fifth shelf simply by standing on tip-toes, leaning slightly forward over the counter, and extending my side body and arm just barely enough to grab the bottom of the package. Of course, I can always call for 8-foot tall husband to save the day, but sometimes you just have to maintain your sense of dignity and pride.
Practicing yoga has given me great amounts of both upper- and lower-body strength. This comes in handy in situations where you’re standing in the middle of the supermarket and both your one- and three-year-olds start throwing a tantrum. With one single thought in mind, “Gotta go!” you malasana your way down to their level, sweep one crying kid up in each arm, deadlift the additional 65 pounds of weight, and haul your flustered yoga-mom booty out to the car (all without dropping either one. Or the three bags of groceries around your wrists.)
Yoga teaches each of us the power of stillness and meditation. Let’s return to the crying children scenario. Once both crying children are successfully and safely secured in their carseats, you can open your car door, sit in the driver’s seat, turn the car on, take a deep breath, and magically go into a happy place. Suddenly, the crying and kicking of the seats melts away and is replaced by swaying palm trees, waves lapping along the shore, the salt-kissed wind blowing through your hair. Ahh yes, for a moment, you find sweet serenity and stillness. That is, until Jo Schmo starts honking at you because he’s waiting for your parking spot. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
Sometimes your toddler insists on you laying with her at bedtime. Before you know it, you’re both cuddled up together in her teeny tiny toddler bed, passed out from exhaustion. You wake up and try to make the least amount of sound possible so as not to wake her. You slowly and quietly place one foot on the floor, then a hand, and then slowly “wheel pose” your way off the bed, into side plank, down dog, and finally mountain pose– a complete vinyasa flow! (Now, getting from the middle of the room to the door without making the floor squeak? You’re on your own there, my friend.)
What super powers have you discovered that yoga has given you during YOUR daily grind? Leave a comment and share with us!