If you're an avid yogi, then you already know that the benefits seem endless. But here's one which I bet you haven't heard yet. According to new study, regular yoga could make men better dads. Yes, really. The study was conducted by Washington State University over the span of three years, and followed 14 groups of male inmates at the Chelan County Regional Jail in Wenatchee, Washington. The men, who were all fathers, would attend a parenting class before participating in a guided yoga class. The program was called “Fit Fathers, Successful Families, Inside and Out," and also required inmates to journal about their own upbringings and their kids in off hours. As it turns out, the whole process had a pretty profound impact.
In a press release for the study, lead author Jennifer Crawford shared that yoga practice "helped participants become ready to learn and increased their willingness to try new ideas, absorb new information, and begin to apply these in their lives." To be fair, it's kind of hard to prove that it truly made the men better fathers, since there wasn't exactly a control group and the sample size wasn't huge. But the researchers did measure each participant on "Self Compassion" and "Distress Tolerance" scales, which showed that the parenting classes, role play, yoga, and journaling all added up to more mindful, communicative, and relaxed dads. And while a similar study hasn't yet been reproduced with moms, I'm willing to bet it would have the same kinds of positive results there.
Aside from these findings, there are plenty of other ways yoga can help anyone become a more centered, calm, positive being.
1. It Improves Your Focus
You don't have to be locked in a yoga studio all day to reap its benefits. Even just 20 minutes of yoga a day has been proven to increase your focus and attention to detail. So when you're in the middle of doing five things at once (aka all day, every day), you'll be able to get things right the first time. And you might even remember to preheat the oven for dinner.
2. It Can Help You Sleep
It's tough to get yourself to your mat after a long day when you're already zonked. But you know how people say that the best cure for period cramps is exercise? The same goes for exercise and sleep — a quick yoga practice on a daily basis is the best way to get your body and mind to turn off and sneak in a snooze.
3. It's A Major De-Stressor
No one likes getting so stressed that they start snapping at everyone in their path. Good thing yoga's all about taking deep, calming breaths and chilling the eff out. So even if you can't twist yourself into a pigeon pose, you can always just sit there and breathe. It's a no-brainer that a little chill time will keep you calmer overall, and it's healthier than downing a big ole' glass of wine or a bag of M&Ms. (Though who am I kidding; those always work too.)
4. It's, Ya Know, Exercise!
Whether you're getting your heart rate up in hot yoga or just rolling around with pillows in a restorative class, doing yoga is just an easy way to stay fit. And not just in a superficial way, so you can fit into your skinny jeans. Yoga helps with chronic pain and keeps your joints working, so you're less likely to have problems when (Eek!) you start getting older.
In other words, any way you cut it, yoga is pretty much the best chill pill out there. And that goes a long way when you're taking care of a challenging tiny human.
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