Updated: Dec 31, 2020
Finding a new hobby or starting a new activity can be challenging. Add to that the current limits on group exercise and sports, it can be even harder to find an activity that keeps you feeling healthy and like your best self.
If you are feeling the negative effects of staying at home, or working all day with no play, you might want to consider beginning a Yoga practice. If there was ever a time to start something new, it would be now.
The lovely thing about Yoga is that it can be an entirely internal and self contained activity. Yoga can be practiced anywhere, without any equipment, and with enough practice, you can become your own Yoga teacher. Living in a world with so much uncertainty can be challenging, not knowing if your favorite gym will open back up, or if you'll be able to play rec soccer ever again, takes a toll on those who rely on the social interaction and physical exercise these hobbies provide. Having a personal Yoga practice however, is not something that can be paused or taken away from you, it IS you.
Let's look into a few of the other benefits that come from practicing Yoga-
"Do Yoga once a week and change your thoughts, twice a week and change your body, every day and change your life"
1. Wake Up- Tone Up
Establishing a consistent morning Yoga practice, of either physical postures, or breathing techniques will help you start the day out right. Practicing Yoga and meditation within the first fifteen minutes after waking up has been shown to improve mental focus and create a more positive outlook on the day ahead on participants. Feel groggy and sleepy no more, ten minutes of practice and cup of coffee are all you need to start the day as the best- you.
There are many different types of Yoga, a very common one being Yoga Flow. Yoga Flow is a dynamic, faster paced practice that connects body and breath. This type of practice is enlivening, asking our muscles to work hard for us and our cardiovascular system to get going. Because of this, Yoga Flow is an excellent style of Yoga to practice if you are looking for a daily workout. Tone your muscles in a safe and healthy way while improving balance and focus, what more could you ask for? Oh yeah, it's so fun you won't even realize you're exercising.
2. Strengthen- Lengthen
Often times, it is hard to find balance in a physical activity. Many sports focus on specific areas of the body, that need to either be stronger or more limber than other parts. The great thing about Yoga is that the entire body is always the focus. A consistent Yoga practice will stretch AND strengthen your arms and shoulders. A consistent Yoga practice will build muscle in your legs AND help you reach that goal of touching your toes.
It's important to note that even one session of Yoga, of any length and style is still beneficial to your mind and spirit. It just takes that one leap of faith or trust in yourself to try something new to really change your life.
3. Detox- Cleanse- Release
Our bodies are incredibly sophisticated, and naturally very good at taking care of themselves, but that doesn't mean that we can't help them out and make it a little easier for them. Many Yoga poses feel good, and have the benefit of detoxing and releasing inflammation in the body. For example, manipulation of the knee joint in a Yoga class (stretching or just moving in general) can purge the knee joint of harmful toxins and lymph that accumulates and causes pain and tightness. This is also true for the low back, hips, shoulders and neck.
Twisting Yoga poses build an inner fire. In Yoga terms this means it awakens our digestive system and really gets things moving in there. Boost your metabolism and your energy levels by adding a healthy amount of twisting to your practice.
4. Restore- Sleep- Beautify
We've talked about how Yoga can wake us up, but it can also help to slow us down. If you find it hard to fall asleep, or rest after a long day, establishing an evening Yoga or meditation practice could be beneficial to you. There are many styles of Yoga that are slow, low and have a focus on the breath. One of these styles is called Restorative Yoga.
Restorative Yoga utilizes many props (such as pillows, blankets, and blocks) to support your body. Poses in classes like this are held for long periods of time to encourage the fascial release in your joints, and to welcome in a sense of calm to the mind. Restorative Yoga poses have little to no physical sensation in the body, because main intention is to rest. Practicing Yoga at before bed gives the body and mind time to transition from the external world, to the internal. Because of this, practitioners are able to sleep easier and more consistently through the night. Who doesn't need more beauty sleep?
5. Care- Accept- Love
As we mentioned before, even one session of Yoga can positively affect your mind and spirit. Yoga is all about being kind and compassionate to your body. Unlike other physical activities, Yoga is never meant to put someone in a "box". You are allowed to be different everyday, and to take every single Yoga practice as your body needs to take it.
Setting an intention of loving kindness and compassion will follow you off of your mat and into your every day life. It may become easier to be understanding of our fellow humans and accepting of ourselves. Yoga connects the mind, body and soul so that you may feel and acknowledge your wholeness.
There are so many reasons to start something new right now. I encourage you to make this year something worth remembering for a positive reason. Learn that we do not have to look outside ourselves to find happiness, or to live a full and healthy life.
If you have any questions about what type of Yoga or wellness practice would be best for you, I would love to hear from you.