“Yoga is 99 percent practice and one percent theory.”
~ Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
1. It makes me feel great physically.
The more I do it, the better I feel. Even if I just do a short 30 minute routine every day, I can feel the difference in my body so much (and you better believe I can feel it when I skip yoga for a few days). I’m more flexible, stronger, physically grounded, have better balance and less back pain when yoga is part of my regular routine.
2. It makes me feel great mentally.
Seriously. You don’t have to be intensely spiritual about yoga for it to make a big impact on the way you think, process, and perceive. Regular yoga has made me considerably less self-conscious physically and just in general. I always feel happy right after practice, no matter how stressed out I may have been beforehand. I’m sure part of it is the endorphin production and physical release that comes with any strenuous activity, but I think for me the most important part is the kind of meditative state that I got into during yoga.
I am nothing if not a thinker, and this can sometimes work against me, making it almost impossible for me to shut off my mind and ipso facto my worries, anxieties, and stresses. However, when I am practicing yoga, I am forced to focus only on my body. When my mind begins to wander, I come back to my breath. This gives me a window of relief from the nagging “to do” list that seems always to linger in my mind off the mat.
3. I get more done.
When I have a lot to do in a day, it’s easy to tell myself that I’ll get more done if I skip yoga and use that tie to do something “more productive.” However, I am always so energized after a good practice that I get way more done with yoga as a part of my schedule. The amount of times that I have procrastinated all day, done yoga, then immediately tackled the dreaded project astounds me. Yoga clears out all your mental blockages, at least for a short time, and allows space for the new ideas and creativity needed to get things done.
4. I sleep better.
Yes, yoga energizes me and helps me to be productive, but it also puts me right to sleep! On days when I practice yoga (especially in the evening) I fall asleep as soon as I crawl into bed, almost without fail.
5. It’s a structured way to include self-care in my daily routine.
Self-care. It’s probably the most important thing that we all neglect far too often. It’s very easy to let taking care of yourself slip by the wayside, because generally self-care is not something that falls into a specific category in our daily routine. Daily yoga practice is a great way to have a specific chunk of your day devoted only to you. My yoga practice is one part of my day that is about nothing but me. My body, my mind, my breath, all working together, all healing together.
6. It’s a great way to gauge (and lower) my stress-levels.
Sometimes when life is consistently stressful for an extended period of time, it can be difficult to tell when the stress is getting to you. It’s very easy for me to be stressed and not even know it, but I’ve noticed that my stress levels can be observed by the way my yoga practice goes. Usually, my physical balance is pretty good, but there are those days when even the simplest balancing poses are a no-go for me. These are the days when I’m really stressed. When I have a bad-balance practice, I know that I need to focus on relieving stress and getting back to where I need to be.
7. It reminds me that doing something even if I don’t feel like it is still worthwhile.
It’s so easy to want to skip a practice (or ten). I often feel too tired, too busy, or like there isn’t enough time in the day for me to practice yoga. I often just don’t want to do it. However, there has not been one time in my life when I have chosen to practice yoga and then regretted it. This is a really good reminder in daily life that sometimes the things you really do not feel like doing are completely worthwhile and beneficial once you actually get out there and do them.
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Assistant Ed: Judith Andersson / Ed: Bryonie Wise