I used to be a real running enthusiast. There was nothing I loved more than a long run outside or the thrill of running in a race. In the past decade, I’ve run an assortment of races from half marathons to 5ks. Even when I wasn’t training for a race, I’d still get out for a run just because I enjoyed it.
Sadly, within the past three years, I developed a chronic soreness in my right hip that has barred me from continuing with long distance running. More recently, I’ve been getting painful headaches after even short runs.
I have yet to identify exactly what it is that’s causing these problems as the usual suspects like shoes and posture don’t seem to be the culprit. In the meantime, I’ve had to find something else to fill the exercise void.
Although I started classes about six years ago, my practice was intermittent at best. I’d go a few months practicing several times a week and then suddenly forget about my mat for months on end. My practice mostly consisted of tagging on a few asanas after a run to stretch out my hamstrings and quads.
But for the past year and a half, I really started taking my practice more seriously and it’s gradually replaced running as my main source of exercise. I’m now one of those annoying people who’s always talking about how awesome yoga is and why everyone should be doing it!
Aside from being a low-impact exercise, here are the main reasons why yoga is my new beat!
Minimal Space and Equipment Required
I always loved running but finding the time and place to go for a run would sometimes be a problem. In the winter months, running outside was less than ideal, and I didn’t want to keep a gym membership. With yoga, all you need is a 6’ by 2’ rectangle of space and you’re good to go!
No gym? No problem! Raining outside? Downward dog inside! Only place to exercise in is a hallway? That’s ample space!
Like running, yoga requires minimal gear. The one big purchase is a quality mat – instead of quality running shoes – then you’re good to go for years! Sure you can buy props like yoga blocks and straps, but I’ve found that household items like books or a belt work just as well if you’re on a budget.
Different Styles of Yoga Achieve Different Goals
The thing about running is it’s great for cardio but not a whole lot else. It was refreshing to discover that different styles of yoga can target different fitness goals. Vinyasa is by far my favourite style of yoga because it’s a cardio-style workout that gets me sweating.
The fantastic part is there are many other yoga styles that can help you target different goals. Power yoga will count more towards strength training while rejuvenation-type classes focus more on stretching and recovery. No matter your mood or energy level, there’s a yoga style for it!
Great Stress Reliever
Don’t get me wrong, running is a great stress reliever (as is most exercise) and I always loved how I felt after a run. But yoga just seems to lend a little extra serenity. Even after the most vigorous vinyasa class, by the time we’ve finished with a few supine twists and savasana, I’m as cool as a cucumber, and the feeling lingers for hours.
I find even a short, 15-minute session will result in a more relaxed outlook on life.
It Benefits Other Areas of Life
It’s interesting how the things you learn in yoga start to infiltrate other areas of your life, for the better. Along with the physical benefits of the exercise, it trains you to not sweat the small stuff, and teaches you how to live in the moment. For example, I recently had this article published about how yoga can help your career. The truth is, the same lessons can apply to almost any facet of life!