25 Reasons To Commit to a Daily Yoga Practice
From boosting your energy levels, revving your metabolism and reducing stress, to steadying the mind and eventually bringing you to a deep sense of contentment, a regular yoga practice promises innumerable benefits to your life. While attending group classes has many special benefits of its own, taking classes at a studio every day isn't feasible for most people.
Having started practicing yoga from a young age, taking occasional classes while in high school, I knew for years that yoga was good for me- every time I took a class, I left feeling great and my day went better. I continued taking classes in college and was growing to love yoga more and more. It was physically changing my body, making me feel and look great, and it was helping me to focus on my studies and giving me more confidence. However, though all these things were true, I still only went to classes 2-3 times a week and barely practiced at home. At first I didn't practice at home because I really didn't know what to do. But after several years of classes I began to know some postures and a basic sun salutation and could have gotten books or DVDs to help me follow a simple daily routine. Still, I didn't make the commitment. Even after my first teacher training, at the age of 23, when I could then easily lead an hour long class, I still didn't practice on my own every day, even though I desired to. No, it took me 7 more years of learning and teaching before I finally had a daily practice, because I began to crave it, and noticed that when I didn't practice I felt physically and mentally worse during the day. Now that I have that daily practice, I can hardly imagine living without it. It brings so many benefits to my life in tangible ways every single day, and I'm talking about benefits far beyond a flat belly and yoga butt. I'm talking about a sense of balance, ease and focus in my day, a sense of real, true health. The discipline of getting on my mat every morning, and listening to my breath as I move my body with intention, is a practice that has naturally created a slew of healthy habits. It helps me pause before I react, listen before I talk, slow down, eat better. I could go on and on. So, I am here to encourage you: don't put it off for years like I did! If you have taken a yoga class and walked away feeling great, don't wait until you injure yourself from lack of mobility, or have trouble keeping a healthy weight or falling asleep at night, or till you feel a lack of purpose or overwhelmed by responsibilities. If you are already suffering from any of these issues, even more reason to start right now. If you have little to no experience with yoga and don't even know how you would start, there are countless books, DVDs, YouTube videos, and apps that can help you get started. Or talk to a yoga teacher that you resonate with about helping you create a simple routine that you can follow at home. And if you need more inspiration, I've come up with 25 reasons to encourage you:
1. It's free!
2. You don't need any special equipment, you can do it anywhere! On a rug, on the grass, on the floor. So even when you're on a trip, you can take your practice with you.
3. You can wear your pajamas and just roll out of bed onto the floor. You don't need fancy yoga clothes or special gym shoes.
4. You don't have to worry about any strange noises that come out of your body to embarrass you in front of the rest of a class.
5. You won't have to worry about comparing with or keeping up with anyone else.
6. You can tailor your practice to the poses and pace that suit you best; no class will ever be able to do that better than you because every body has unique and different needs every day.
7. Yoga makes you more productive. Seriously, if one of your excuses is, 'I'm too busy, I don't have time!' Try getting up half an hour earlier to practice first thing and then you'll soon realize that a yoga practice creates MORE time in your day.
8. Yoga increases your energy! Along with making you more efficient with your time by helping you to be relaxed and focused, a morning yoga practice energizes you by increasing your intake of oxygen and stimulating blood to flow better across your whole body.
9. Yoga revs your metabolism. With that, you can eat more delicious, healthy food!
10. A regular yoga practice helps you fall asleep and stay asleep more easily at night. By bringing your attention to the present and reducing stress, a yoga practice will bring your cortisol levels down and stop distracting thoughts from keeping you up at night
11. Yoga strengthens your joints, preventing and ameliorating the effects of osteoporosis and aging, preventing minor falls or injuries from turning into major damage.
12. Yoga lubricates, lengthens, and strengthens your spine, causing better posture, relief from back pain, and prevention of serious spinal injuries.
13. Yoga detoxifies you from the effects of environmental and food pollution, through the inner massage of your organs in yogic twists, and the increase of your heart moving fresh blood throughout your body.
14. Inverting your head below your heart gives you a shift in perspective, takes a load off your heart, and is stimulating and energizing.
15. Consciously breathing while on your mat helps you to create the habit of noticing your breath during your whole day, helping you to take in more energy, expand your lung capacity, and stay focused on the moment.
16. Yoga saves your feet. Feet that are bound up in shoes all day get sore and tired. Unsupportive shoes and lack of exercise for the feet can contribute to having flat feet and pronated ankles, in turn causing serious problems like plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and knee pain. Freeing your feet by being barefoot on your mat and recruiting all the muscles of the feet and ankles to balance can reverse issues caused by flat feet. Standing on your barefeet and feeling them ground into the earth is also very grounding and balancing for your energy.
17. Yoga gives a strong boost to the immune system by reducing the stress hormones that compromise it, stimulating the lungs, heart, anddigestive system to help shed toxins and pathogens, and draining the lymphatic system.
18. Yoga can relieve cold symptoms. Gentle movement and certain Pranayamas (breathing exercises) help to ease congestion and promote your body's own healing.
19. By practicing good posture on your mat, you create better postural habits during your day. You'll save your back and neck from long-term tension and by holding your head up you'll move through your day with grace and confidence.
20. Yoga reduces anxiety! By practicing lengthening your inhales and exhales and focusing your mind on the present, a yoga routine helps you during your day to keep anxious and negative thought patterns at bay.
21. Yoga gives you a much needed opportunity for "Me-Time". Everyone needs some time for quiet contemplation, especially people who work with other people all day or who are caretakers. By taking care of yourself first, you will have more energy and love to offer to others.
22. Yoga increases your sense of gratitude. Gratitude seems to be a buzz word these days, and even conventional science is now saying that a sense of gratitude boosts health, relieves depression and anxiety, and increases your sense of pleasure in life. Yoga asana was traditionally practiced to honor the sun as the source of life and symbol of the divine. When you reach your arms to the sky and bow down to touch the earth, you are practicing saying thank you to the resources that support you in your life. Meditation practices such as Metta LovingKindness are also ways to practice feeling thankful for what you have.
23. Yoga opens your heart. For the skeptics out there, this phrase so commonly heard nowadays in yoga classes and by self-help authors might trigger your inner cynic. But take some to practice stretching the chest in back bends, and resting in shavasana with your whole body open and vulnerable, and you will probably start to notice that yoga peels back the energetic layers that you have built to protect you from past and future wounds. With time you will begin to agree that these "opening the heart" practices truly allow you to release fear and pain and let more love and joy in.
24. Yoga decreases inflammation. Inflammation seems to be another catch phrase these days as more and more of us are becoming aware that inflammation causes pain and disease and is caused by common things like sugar and stress. Studies have shown that yoga decreases pro-inflammatory molecules in the body, inhibiting cancer growth and especially benefitting people who suffer from arthritis and fibromyalgia.
25. Yoga gives you purpose. A powerful way to begin a daily practice is by setting an intention for your day. By doing this you prime yourself to live with a sense of meaning and purpose. Your intention can be as simple as the intent to be present with each breath, each movement, and each thought.