My Top 10 Reasons to Practice Yoga
It’s a strange and uncertain time, with everyone facing their own challenges and concerns. Yoga can be an excellent way to build both our mental and physical strength, I highly recommend incorporating yoga practice into your weekly routine; here are 10 reasons why:
Time to Pause
In the whirlwind l call life, yoga gives pockets of time to pause, after practice I’m able to reset and re-asses what is important. When teaching, I encourage students to practice without ego, move with their bodies, allowing an hour on the mat without judgement. Pranayama (breath control) can trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, calming us down after a busy, stressful day, helping us feel more relaxed. In modern life we often feel it is necessary to constantly be productive. Taking a step back, taking a moment for ourselves can seem counterintuitive, but from personal experience when space is created the best ideas and highest productivity levels are achieved.
Becoming more flexible is probably the most obvious benefit people associate with yoga, noticing change with consistent practice. The benefits of improved flexibility go much further than the ability to touch your toes. Relieving tight muscles can alleviate aches and pains in the body, and when connective tissues become more flexible this can help improve posture. For those who are keen runners, cyclists or weight lifters, adding yoga into your routine, enabling the body to experience a different type of exercise can be beneficial and help reduce injury.
When busy, it can be easy to rush from one thing to another, feeling disconnected and overwhelmed. When I start to feel like this I know I need to roll out my mat and take time to ground myself by practising yoga. If like me, you’ve suffered from anxiety, you’ll know the relief that comes from bringing yourself into the present moment, and giving your mind respite from the constant chatter. ‘As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life’ words from the Buddha, encouraging us to live life in the present.
Having a strong body goes much further than the aesthetics. Being strong means that we can go about our daily lives with ease, it helps us to balance, and can protect from conditions such as back pain and arthritis. Strength allows us to move with confidence, since practicing yoga I can tell the difference in the way I hold myself, and the increase in power when taking part in other forms of exercise.
There is no doubt that I sleep better after a yoga class, in particular after restorative or gentle yoga. Meditation can allow downtime for the nervous systems, preparing your body for a better nights sleep. With better sleep comes a number of benefits, including having more energy to start the day with.
In class I always encourage students to sit up tall, finding the natural S curve in their spine. We spend so much time with our hands out in front of us e.g. typing, driving, cooking, actions that encourage the shoulders to roll forwards, which can result in poor posture. Poor posture can cause neck and back pain along with issues in other joints and muscles. Yoga helps to reverse this, we roll our shoulders back and down, open the chest; actions learnt on the mat can be taken off the mat, encouraging us to walk tall and confidently.
Beneficial for our Wellbeing
Research has found that yoga practice reduces stress, anxiety and depression, enhancing overall wellbeing and quality of life. For me I experience this every time I leave the mat, a sense of peace, ease and contentment. We have pressures on us from all angles: work, family, friends, its essential to practice self-care, yoga gives us the opportunity to do this.
Practicing yoga can help with our proprioception and improve balance. Postures such as Tree Pose can help bring a sense of grounding, personally the stability and strength felt in a balance pose can bring me a great sense of achievement. Balance becomes more important as we age, for example the ability to stay steady can be the difference between independence or full time support when elderly.
In class I often ask students to send their breath to any part of the body that feels tight or tense, allowing the breath to relax the area. Many of us have unconscious habits, examples include holding tension in the shoulders and neck and tightening the jaw. When tuning into the body in class, we bring awareness to where we are holding tension and can consciously release it.
Yoga can enhance the function of the heart and circulatory system for example lowering resting heart rate and improving endurance. One study shows that Pranayama (breath control) can help promote a relaxed state and can be useful in helping control high blood pressure.
Roll out your yoga mat and take a moment to stretch and breathe, allowing time for self-care.
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Tuesday’s 18:00 – 19:00, Hatha Yoga
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