Yoga is one of those things that I really enjoy and appreciate when I actually do it … but that somehow “slips my mind” (or my agenda) more often than I would like.  When I get to my yoga mat, I feel like I am doing something for myself, like I am helping my body recover and heal, and like I am doing the right thing by “mixing up my workouts to maximize my benefits,” like I wrote in this post.  Overall, the two biggest benefits for me are feeling more relaxed/ less stressed, and reducing tension (especially in my shoulders and neck, which is where I naturally carry my tension, and my hips, which is where I naturally carry my running tension).

Don’t get me wrong – to me, nothing beats the feeling of an exhilarating, sweaty run, and I certainly don’t to intend to give that up.  But incorporating a bit of yoga into my weekly routine definitely works for me!Asia Day 14-15 458

Relaxation/ Stress Release: I’m generally pretty bad at shutting my mind off (which is why I have to read a novel to get myself to fall asleep), but somehow, yoga allows me to do so.  When I’m running, even if I’m listening to a podcast, I’m thinking about my to-do list or my work, but when I’m doing yoga, I can usually focus on just yoga.  Even if it’s just a 20-minute class in my hotel room or my home, it’s a 20-minute escape that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.  And I always feel energized and relaxed afterwards!

Reducing tension and injury potential: Although I stretch for a few minutes after every run, I thoroughly believe that practicing a little bit of yoga at least one time per week helps me avoid injury (knock on wood!).  When my body is telling me that it’s tired or sore, or I have a nagging pain somewhere, I’ll often take an easier running day or a day off, and try to fit in some yoga instead.  A few minutes in pigeon pose (my all time favorite!) are sure to help release tension in my hips and help get me feeling better.  One article I found advised that as your running increases, your yoga should decrease (and vice versa), but I believe the opposite – when I am running more, including yoga in my routine becomes even more important.your body is smarter than you(picture source)

Although those benefits are enough to convince me, there are many, many more benefits of practicing yoga.  Some articles cite up to 38 benefits, but here are some of my favorites:

  • Enhanced mood and improved happiness
  • Increased relaxation, lower stress, and lower levels of cortisol in your body
  • Lower blood sugar, lower LDL (“bad” cholesterol), higher HDL (“good” cholesterol), improved insulin sensitivity
  • Increased flexibility, which can fix your body alignment, reduce injury, speed recovery, and reduce overall pain
  • Better sleep: this article shows research tying higher sleep quality, lower fatigue, and improved quality of life to yoga
  • Effective muscle toning/ strength building
  • Improved brain function and memory
  • Increased self-confidence and enhanced body-image

So, what are you waiting for?  Get out there and do some yoga! go for it it's good for you(picture source)

I love practicing in a studio, especially if I can get into a good hot yoga class.  However, most of my yoga is practiced on my own due to my funky schedule.  In a hotel room, all I need is an extra towel (instead of a mat) and my computer; at home, I roll out my mat even if I only have time for a quick session.  There are some free yoga resources available online, and you can download many others for relatively low fees.  I use Yogadownload.com and really enjoy their classes – some are free, and the rest are available for permanent download for low prices.  I’ve heard good things about DoYogaWithMe.com, GaiamTV.com, Reflexion Yoga, and YogaGlo.com, but can’t recommend these firsthand.  (None of these companies know I am posting this or are sponsoring me in any way, and these are not affiliate links).  Enjoy!

So tell me in the comments: Do you ever do yoga?  If not, would you like to try it?  What exercise is most relaxing to you?

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22 Comments

  1. Sara @ LovingOnTheRun on December 4, 2013 at 6:55 am

    Love this! I am like you – I love how I feel after I do yoga but it is so easy for me to skip! I really ned to make it a better focus to go at least once a week. That way it is not an overwhelming amount to stick to the schedule but very doable! Thanks for the reminder Megan 🙂
    Sara @ LovingOnTheRun recently posted…My Personal Favorites GiveawayMy Profile

    • Megan Lyons on December 4, 2013 at 10:40 pm

      No problem, Sara! Try out yogadownload.com if you can’t make it to a class!

  2. Clara @ Southern Thintellect on December 4, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Practicing yoga always feels so amazing, but I am so inconsistent! It’s on my fall bucket list to try a restorative yoga class and I’m determined to do it : )
    Clara @ Southern Thintellect recently posted…Call Me PandaMy Profile

    • Megan Lyons on December 4, 2013 at 10:40 pm

      Oooh, I’ll be so curious to hear your review on the restorative yoga class WHEN (not if!) you go, Clara!

  3. Amy @ The Little Honey Bee on December 4, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Well you know I love yoga! Thank you for linking to your post on switching up your workouts. The first few paragraphs really resonated with my current situation: recently started running, knee pain/injury. Funny that I am actually writing a post on this. Lesson learned 🙂
    Amy @ The Little Honey Bee recently posted…One Meal, Four Ways [WIAW 23]My Profile

    • Megan Lyons on December 4, 2013 at 10:41 pm

      I think almost all of us have to go through that unfortunate learning lesson when we first start out. Running can just be so addicting and exhilarating that it’s hard to hold back and build up steadily, even if we know we should. But you’re doing such an amazing job at being dedicated to recovery!

  4. Tonya@Healthy, Fit, and Frugal on December 4, 2013 at 8:48 am

    I miss doing yoga once a week. I loved the benefits too even though it was always just a bit too slow for me…but I loved how I felt after. Sadly I’ve been dealing with some shoulder pain (frozen shoulder?) and it makes doing yoga difficult, mostly on twisty poses. I can still do it, but I have to do lots of “thinking” during yoga to make modifications. I’ve been thinking about going back though and just dealing with it so I can get other benefits!

    • Megan Lyons on December 4, 2013 at 10:42 pm

      Wow, I’ve never heard of frozen shoulder … I’m sorry you’re having to go through that, Tonya! I’ve found that most instructors are super friendly if you tell them any issues you’re having before class. They can often call out modifications for you as needed.

  5. Davida @ The Healthy Maven on December 4, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Exercise in general helps me release stress but yoga especially. Might have something to do with the fact that I can leave my phone in my locker and truly disconnect. I’ve grown to love hot yoga. I want to go all the time but I’m trying not to overdo it so it does’t lose it’s appeal. The last few times I’ve fallen asleep in Shavasana and it’s basically impossible to get up.
    Davida @ The Healthy Maven recently posted…Turkey & Wild Rice SoupMy Profile

    • Megan Lyons on December 4, 2013 at 10:43 pm

      I’m so jealous! I’ve always wanted to fall asleep in Shavasana, and have never actually done it. I think that is TRUE relaxation! Glad you’re enjoying hot yoga so much!

  6. Michael Anderson on December 4, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    I have never actually done yoga, but know it is something I should at least try. I want to do more non-running stuff this winter, maybe yoga should be on my list …

    Oh, and I actually can completely detach when I run – it is incredibly therapeutic for me … sometimes if I am irritable Lisa or the boys will ask if I have gone for my run yet! 😀
    Michael Anderson recently posted…Truth for Tuesday – What I Hate About Running in the Extreme ColdMy Profile

    • Megan Lyons on December 4, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      I hope you do put yoga on your winter to-do list, Michael! Even if it’s just a short at-home podcast. So funny about Lisa and the boys asking if you’ve gone for a run … I have to admit my colleagues have done the same thing :).

  7. Kerry @ The Adventures of Z & K on December 4, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    I bought a Living Social deal for a month of unlimited yoga at the studio a block away from me and I have to say I’ve been LOVING it. Tomorrow’s my last day and I’m gonna miss it.

    For the past month I’ve been going 2-3x/week…more yoga than I’ve ever done in my life. Starting my day with an hour of “rise & shine” yoga or hot vinyasa has been wonderful. Not to mention with all the wedding planning stress having a place to go, stretch, and breathe has been a welcome addition.
    Kerry @ The Adventures of Z & K recently posted…My Stomach Story: The F Word (FODMAPS)My Profile

    • Megan Lyons on December 4, 2013 at 10:46 pm

      What a perfect time in your life to adopt a yoga practice, Kerry! I have never actually done yoga BEFORE work … I always try to squeeze it in at the end of the day, or do it on weekend mornings, but it sounds like a great way to start off your day! I couldn’t be more excited to see your wedding pictures – I know you’ll be a beautiful bride!

  8. Arman @ thebigmansworldman on December 5, 2013 at 3:24 am

    I read the post title about to write off yoga as I usually do (I’ve been to several classes hoping to love it, and consider my favourite class to be the one that got cancelled when I arrived there with a friend lol) but you’ve tempted me to give it a go.

    What I strangely find relaxing is to simply chill on the bike after a workout at a snails pace and just sit with my thoughts. Strange, but soothing!
    Arman @ thebigmansworldman recently posted…He Thinks/She Thinks- Food and Gender stereotypesMy Profile

    • Megan Lyons on December 5, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      I do enjoy seeing your “massive calorie burn” figures on Instagram, Arman ;). Hey, we all have to find whatever is relaxing to us!

  9. Cori @ she's going the distance on December 5, 2013 at 9:41 am

    I was just talking to my fiancé about getting into a studio this weekend. There is nothing better during winter than taking yoga. it’s so warm and relaxing. ps- love the picture of you! So pretty & strong!

    • Megan Lyons on December 5, 2013 at 10:40 pm

      Hey Cori! Hope you guys get over to a yoga studio this weekend, and thanks for the comment on my picture!

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  12. The Yoga Collective Review on April 22, 2015 at 11:43 am

    […]  I’ve spoken many times about the benefits of yoga, so I won’t review them all here.  Please see this post for some of the many, many benefits of yoga!  Today, instead, I’m going to share a new-to-me, membership-based platform that allows you […]

  13. be a yoga teacher NJ on May 23, 2017 at 9:14 am

    When your brain is “on yoga” your neurological system is brought back into balance and is conditioned to steer you naturally toward a healthy lifestyle. Our bodies are constantly rewired to make whatever we practice get easier. When we practice healthy, balanced living we get more healthy, balanced living.

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