If you’re like me, you probably started dabbling with yoga to get flatter abs and that oh-so-famous yoga pants butt. But now that my one year yoga-versary is coming up, I’ve realized I’ve gotten a lot more out of my practice than I first expected.
Though yoga has improved my strength, flexibility, and muscle tone, the most important changes I’ve experienced go more than booty-deep. Developing a regular practice has made me a better person in a whole bunch of surprising ways.
1. I’m A LOT more patient than I used to be.
You know those people who sigh loudly and often when faced with a slow moving line? Sorry guys—that used to be me. Taking it slow with my yoga practice has made me much more patient.
2. I’m better at tolerating discomfort.
For me, holding Runner’s Lunge for a few breaths feels like it takes hours. But by staying in that uncomfortable pose a little longer each time, I’ve learned that discomfort is tolerable and temporary. Now, I don’t lash out as much at my loved ones—even when I’m “hangry.”
3. I’m more open to adventure!
Trying that first Handstand feels like a big risk, but all good adventures need risks! Facing my yoga fears has helped me face other fears, too, leaving me more open to the spirit of adventure.
4. I have more confidence in my abilities.
If you’ve never struggled with doubts about your abilities, you’re probably not human. Achieving poses I never dreamed myself capable of gave me a new perspective, showing me I can do anything I set my mind to do.
5. I make better choices for myself and the planet.
Yoga teaches us that we are inextricably connected to our world. My practice has made me more aware of how my eating and shopping habits affect the world as a whole. Small changes, like giving up bottled water, can make a big difference for the planet—and that benefits all of us.
6. I challenge negative thoughts before reacting to them.
The meditative aspect of yoga helped me understand that a thought is just a thought—not an unshakeable truth that defines my reality. Mindfulness gives me the mental space to react with compassion, instead of anger or self-doubt.
7. I don’t “rage quit” anymore.
“Didn’t do it right the first time. Better give up forever!” Yeah, that excuse doesn’t fly with me anymore. Committing to a yoga practice means committing to failure. Getting it wrong isn’t a dead end—it’s a pathway to success.
8. I actually listen when other people talk.
Confession: I used to be so socially anxious that I would stress about my facial expressions instead of actually listening to what other people were saying.
Yoga has dialed back my anxiety overall, so I find it much easier to just relax and be myself. Now I actually listen, and that makes me a much better friend.
9. I appreciate my surroundings.
Instead of reaching for my phone, sometimes I take a deep breath and actually look at the things going on around me. Noticing the birds outside or the feeling of a breeze on my skin brings a whole new meaning to #nofilter.
10. I believe that anything is possible.
Solving world hunger? No problem! Achieving world peace? That shouldn’t be hard! If I—the consummate couch potato—can commit to a regular yoga practice, then pretty much anything can happen.
How has yoga changed YOUR life? Let us know in the comments!