Top 10 Reasons to Practice Yoga

Yoga does not transform the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees - B.K.S. Iyengar

This has been a turbulent year and with so many changes and challenges it has been difficult to stay grounded and find moments of clam and focus.  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 my top 10 reasons why:

Time to pause

In the whirlwind l call life, yoga gives me 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. Practising pranayama (controlling the breath) can trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, calming us down after a busy, stressful day, helping us feel more relaxed.

Improves flexibility

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.

Present Moment

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. To some, this may seem trivial, but 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.

Improves strength

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.

Better sleep

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 night's sleep. With better sleep comes a number of benefits, including having more energy to start the day with.

Improves Posture

With so many of us taking to working from home, and pulling up a chair to makeshift desks keeping a focus on our posture is now ever more important.  Poor posture can lead to neck and back pain along with issues with other joints and muscles.  Practicing Yoga can help reverse these aches and pains and by encouraging students to sit up tall and finding a comfortable seated position we can start to undo the constraints that sitting for long periods can bring.  Opening the chest can help counterbalance poor seating positions and start to retrain our focus on better seating positions.

Our collective understanding of wellbeing has been placed under the spotlight this year and now more than ever, our ability to recognise when we need to devote some more time in this area of our overall health.  Yoga can provide a quiet space for both reducing the stresses and strains of daily life along with time for personal reflection.  In our busy lives where we juggle many tasks and demands on a daily basis, allowing space for a sense of peace can be just the ticket to finding the right balance.

Improves Balance

As we get older, our balance becomes even more important as too does the reliance on our core stability.  Practicing poses such as ‘Tree Pose’ can help establish a stronger sense of balance and helps develop the muscles that we all rely on.  Tree Pose alone stretches your thighs, torso shoulders and groin.  It also builds strength in your ankles, calves and tones your abdominal muscles.

Releases Tension

Rolling out your mat can be part of a daily ritual of letting go of tensions built up during the course of the day.  It can act as a great signal to allow your subconscious state of mind unwind and see these physical signs in the loosening of our shoulders and jaw. We absorb stresses and frustrations during the day which in turn can affect our physical wellbeing.  So by taking time to scan our bodies as part of our daily practice we can begin to identify the areas that need work and attention to bring back some balance.  During class we focus on breathing techniques which can be used to send breath to areas of the body that may feel tense or tight, thus allowing the breath to relax these specific areas. Towards the end of our daily practice, Savasana can also play a huge part in the release of tension and help to develop a better sense of relaxation.

Cardiovascular Conditioning

When we think of cardiovascular conditioning many of us will envisage high intensity workouts in the gym that may not appeal to us all.  Yoga can enhance the function of the heart and circulatory system through our breath control.  In fact, one study shows that Pranayama (breath control) can help promote a relaxed state of mind which can be helpful in controlling high blood pressure.

So, if you are looking to adopt a little more balance and calm into your life Yoga could be that key ingredient that, when added to your recipe of life, can bring about all of these positive changes.

‘Yoga begins right where I am – not where I was yesterday or where I long to be’

(Linda Sparrowe)


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