- I usually just do strength and interval training, but for a month I tried to incorporate yoga into my routine.
- By the end of the 30 days, I noticed that doing yoga made me feel less stressed and more positive.
- Although I enjoyed the physical and mental benefits of doing yoga, I don’t think I’d make it part of my daily routine, especially since it didn’t exactly make me feel stronger or more toned.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
For years, I’ve focused on using weight and interval training to build strength and muscle while toning my body, but I’ve always wondered if yoga was the missing puzzle piece in my usual fitness routine.
To see if I was really missing out, I decided to experiment by adding at least 15 minutes of yoga poses into my workout routine for 30 days straight
Here’s what happened when I did yoga every day for a month.
I quickly realised that doing yoga takes a lot more concentration and discipline than I anticipated
Although there are a few different kinds of yoga, I kept things simple by doing Vinyasa yoga, which involves stringing multiple poses together without stopping while focusing on your breathing.
Since I’m a yoga newbie, I also referenced a number of YouTube videos including ones from Adriene Mishler of Yoga With Adriene, who has a “Foundations of Yoga” series that’s meant for beginners like myself.
I started by trying to hold a number of poses for 45 seconds each: the mountain, tree, standing bow, triangle, camel, cobra, bow, side lunge, chair, and eagle – and my legs were shaking by the time I was done.
Right off the bat, I was struggling and I was surprised to find myself drenched in sweat after trying these moves. I’d never realised exactly how strenuous yoga could be.
I also underestimated the level of mindfulness it would take to get through this workout, especially since my lack of balance made it difficult to smoothly move through the different poses.
At one point, I even twisted my right wrist and fell on my face because I was trying to do a sun salutation and wasn’t paying attention when I tried to hop into a downward-facing dog.
Some of the yoga poses made me realise that I’m not as flexible as I thought I was
Out of all of the moves, the downward-facing dog was the one that I most underestimated.
From a first glance, it looks like you just have to be able to touch your toes to do it, but I was wrong. I’ve always considered myself moderately flexible, but when I tried to ease into the pose without lifting up my heels, I realised that I have really tight hips and hamstrings – and I couldn’t complete the move.
After my first unsuccessful attempt, I tried a modification that I found online that involved bending my knees slightly. It definitely helped but I still couldn’t do the original pose by the end of the month.
After a few weeks I was getting compliments on my posture and, surprisingly, my complexion
Although I didn’t feel like I was getting as much of a workout from yoga compared to my previous routines, I noticed that my balance had improved. I’m notoriously clumsy, but I felt more stable and graceful than usual.
I also started to look and feel less bloated. And after nearly three weeks of yoga, a few of my friends commented that I seemed taller and my mum pointed out my improved posture.
But the compliments that really shocked me were the ones about my face.
Toward the end of the month, numerous people told me that my face seemed more lifted and sculpted than usual and some even asked me if I’d recently gotten a facial since my skin had a slightly dewy, radiant look.
Since I’d received so many comments on my complexion, I did some digging and found out that “yoga glow” is a real thing.
Yoga can increase the blood flow to your face and contribute to less inflammation, meaning that it can help your skin appear more glowy and less bloated or puffy than usual.
I also started to notice that doing yoga helped me feel more relaxed and zen throughout the day
As it turns out, bending my body into intricate poses while focusing on my breathing was a great distraction whenever I was feeling stressed.
I’m no stranger to the stress-reducing, endorphin-boosting benefits of sweating it out, but I noticed during my month of yoga that I felt considerably calmer, more relaxed, and extra zen after doing a few poses.
I don’t think I’d replace my weight-lifting routine with yoga, but I will do a few poses a week going forward
I was a bit surprised that I didn’t have a leaner or more toned look by the end of the month, especially since I’d been pushing my body pretty hard to complete some of these poses.
But generally, I wasn’t disappointed since losing weight and getting toned wasn’t my goal, nor is it the goal of yoga. Yoga is meant to be a lifestyle practice rather than an exercise routine – and it wasn’t like the version of it I was practicing was overly strenuous or intense.
But even though I enjoyed the mental and physical benefits of yoga, I won’t continue doing it every single day since I’d rather devote more time to my usual strength and endurance workouts.
That said, I liked how it helped me work on my tight leg muscles so I will definitely start doing two poses a week – and maybe I’ll eventually be able to complete a downward-facing dog.