I never used to be a “yoga person”. In fact, I used to scoff when someone mentioned they were going to a yoga class (not out loud, it was an internal scoff, I’m not a completely terrible person). I was convinced that fussy things like yoga weren’t for me and that my body wouldn’t respond to it because cardio was my thing. I’ve always identified as a “sporty” person and in my mind “sporty” people play sports and non-sporty people did other things, that don’t require much sporting ability … like yoga. But now, a few years, and one life-changing knee surgery later, I’ve learned that yoga is probably more important for “sporty” types than anything else. It’s part of the reason I’ve been able to return back to the sport I love. It’s changed my body for the better and it has nothing to do with having washboard abs or a twerk-worthy booty – here are 5 unexpected ways yoga changed my body.
Psst, we all know yoga can be expensive – an average yoga class costs more than R120 but I’ve started using FitKey which gives me unlimited yoga and fitness classes at a huge variety of studios in Cape Town and Johannesburg at just R645 per month!
1. Improved my balance
I play netball and balance is super important on the netball court. Yoga incorporates loads of balance postures, from standing on one leg to headstands and your stability is constantly being challenged. As challenging as they can be I found that I particularly grew to love balance poses as they gave me an opportunity to develop strength in my legs and also gauge the strength of my muscles between each yoga class. I can quickly tell if the muscles in my legs, particularly those around my knee, have lost a bit of strength and if I need to concentrate on them a little more in strength training at the gym that week.
2. Increased my flexibility
Ok sure, you might not think this is a surprising change but hear me out. Yes sure, since I started yoga I can touch my toes a lot easier, but more importantly, the stretches in yoga postures also help to minimise the risk of injury by keeping your muscles and joints in good working condition. As we age, our flexibility is one of the first things to deteriorate if we do not constantly work on it and yoga has given me more confidence knowing that if I keep at it then I have less chance of injury when playing sport.
3. Helped me develop better endurance
A minute seems like a lifetime when you constantly feel like you’re about to fall out of that balance pose you’re determined to master and it takes endurance and mental strength to stick with it and power through. But it’s not just the balance poses, because yoga emphasizes awareness of the breath at all times most of the stationary poses in yoga can also have a huge impact on your endurance. In yoga, your breath moves you from one posture to the next and helps keep you focused throughout your practice, this focus easily translates into other things in your life and just by focusing on taking slower, shorter breaths my endurance on the netball court has increased greatly.
4. Increased my muscle tone and strength
You may have heard loads of people talk about how yoga helped them build muscle strength, but before I started yoga I didn’t think it would help tone my muscles at all. Boy was I wrong. After a year of practicing yoga, I’ve found that poses like downward and upward dog have helped me improve my upper body strength (it was non-existent before!) while the simple plank has helped me strengthen my core (which was also severely lacking), and standing poses strengthened my upper leg muscles and lower back.
5. Improved my posture
This one was huge for me! I’ve always had terrible posture and yoga helped me correct my bad habits in a natural and organic way. The more I went to yoga the better my posture became and I started to notice that I had less back, neck, and shoulder issues. Because yoga helps strengthen your abdominals and back muscles it allows them to fully support your weight and enable you to sit and stand tall instead of constantly crouching over or slouching.
Want to get started and see how yoga can change your body? The FitKey #BodyLoveYogi Challenge is a great place to start! To celebrate International Yoga Day on 17 June 2017, FitKey will be challenging yoga lovers to 7 different Yoga poses while also offering yogis the chance to win big. The challenge starts on 17 June 2017 and will encourage yoga fans to post their variation of each pose as they are released on the FitKey Instagram page. The winner of the challenge stands to win a 1-month Unlimited FitKey Subscription for Cape Town or Johannesburg, 12 pack of Go Water, and 6 tubs of Skinny Scoop SA ice-cream. Click here to find out how to enter now.
FitKey offers beginners and experienced yogis a whole new world of yoga with their various membership options including the 5 Class Yoga Pack (access to some of the best yoga studios in Cape Town at just R395 for 5 classes) or the full FitKey membership (unlimited access to yoga and fitness classes in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria at R645 per month). It might be hard to believe but your one FitKey membership fee gives you access to over 160 gym locations and more than 6000 classes per month! With FitKey there are no joining fees and no contracts or obligations. You simply pay the monthly fee when you want to use the membership and you’ll have access from the day you pay to that same date a month later. Momentum Multiply members get up to 25% off their monthly FitKey membership.
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