8 unexpected perks of yoga that’ll make you want to sit on a mat right now

Yoga is a bit of an epidemic at the moment. Which is great for all the Susty Girls who are starting/finishing/continuing their day having a positive impact all over the shot. It’s a cool way to realign with ourselves and clear some space, physically and mentally.


via Matt Madd.

The so-laid-back-its-horizontal coastal hang out of Encinitas in Cali sounds like a pretty hip place to do brunch. There’s apparently more yoga studios than bars(!) and the surf scene is just as rad, as you’d imagine. This is where yoga-mat-makers SUGA was born and raised. They combine two of their passions by recycling old wetsuits into yoga mats, injecting some serious susty vibe into your asana practice. I did a Q&A with founder/CEO Brian Shields recently, and it was the most fun thing I’ve written in a while.

Yoga found me rather than the other way around. Back in February, I’d rung up my local sports centre to grab a place in the Pilates class, and they’d said it was booked up, but yoga was on an hour later. Universe lining up, much? I’ve been doing it twice a week, since.

In Bristol, there’s basically a class in every corner of the city, so you’re bound to find a class near you any night of the week. There are also different flavours: I’ve tried dynamic, vinyasa flow, urban yoga and just plain old yoga yoga, which makes me feel like some kind of connoisseur.

I’ve been doing it casually for a few months and discovered some unexpected perks beyond just a standard exercise class. Hopefully you might feel inspired to give it a try 🙂

1. Feeling the flow

Flow can sometimes feel as elusive as a Sumatran tiger, but if you can find it again, it really brings you back to your childhood and you feel in harmony with your experiences. That is, you’re not really sat there judging it; you’re just doing it. I feel in flow when I’m blogging here on Susty Girl, doing something awe-some (in the traditional sense of the word) like swimming with tropical fish, and also in yoga.

As well as the breathing keeping you present (“live in your nostrils”… what a weird phrase), the difficulty of the activity normally keeps me focused. Ain’t nothing like a sideways plank to keep your mind in the room.

If you haven’t been in flow for a while, let me take this opportunity to remind you that it an AWESOME space to be in, however you find it. Some experts dub flow as the “secret” of happiness.

2. You feel like a Mr Bendy rubber man


via Backwards Bill

You might start the class about 10 million light years from your feet, but a few exercises in, your head is best friends with your knees. Okay, bit dramatic, but it sorts out that tightness and makes you feel like you’ve physically changed. Lengthened spine, warmed up muscles, all that jazz.

My choice of profession is pretty sedentary, and we all know that sitting is going to kill us all. Stretching feels so good and addresses some of the unconscious hunching and funky sitting postures from a day at the desk.

3. You become super chill

My friend and I were speaking recently and I said that in general I felt calmer than usual. It was only when I said it out loud that I realised that one of the only things that had changed is that I had started yoga recently. You probably won’t be hit by some radical wave of enlightenment the day after your first class, but over time I’m sure it’s contributed to an increased sense of peace.

4. It’s ignited my interest in meditation (and other healthy tings)

When I’ve tried meditating in the past, I’ve been physically restless – even in groups. I figured that yoga was a similar mind, body, and spirit experience but involved movement to stop the fidgeting. But now I’ve experienced the peace I get with yoga, it’s made me want to compliment that with meditation, read a bunch of spirituality books and drink green smoothies! One thing leads to another, as you know…


via Dave Rosenblum.

5. It literally changes your physiology

 What I find fascinating is that breathing in a yogi manner is not just to ground you in the moment; breathing exercises can help get more oxygen into your blood stream and change your physiology at a cellular level. It’s not just for budding zen folk, either – even the military advocates the four square breathing exercise (inhale for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4, hold for 4) to help reduce the body’s fight or flight responses.  Then there’s the 4-7-8 breathing technique that allegedly puts you to sleep within 60 seconds. Pretty powerful stuff!

6. You get a little naptime

Often, before and after the class there’s a relaxation sesh – lying down on the mat with your eyes closed. Sometimes with a little visualization exercise. Not gonna lie, falling asleep is a very real possibility.

7. It reminds you to focus on the internal, not the external

If I have a problem I’m trying to solve by mentally biting my fingernails, I look forward to yoga to sort out my energy, pronto. It might take me a few minutes to concentrate in between thoughts of “but what if??!!!” but after a while the flow kicks in ( #1) and your molecules start vibrating at a different frequency ( #5) – or somethin’. Importantly, it reminds me that it is not the problem that is making me feel bad, it’s me. If the former was the case, then I would never feel better – not with a yoga class, not with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, nothing. The fact that the problem ebbs and flows in intensity shows that. And that’s pretty empowering if you ask me 🙂

8. Your butt can hurt the next day

 Is this a perk? Well, yoga isn’t the most cardio of workouts, so it’s good for your body to tell you 24 hours later that yup, this yoga malarkey seems to be doing something.

I’d love to hear about your yogi experiences. Do you love it or hate it? Why?

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