Many people who attend a weekly yoga class notice the difference it makes to the way they feel in their body and mind. Maybe they feel stronger, more flexible, more present, less stressed, more positive…
But it isn’t until you make yoga part of your daily routine – as indispensible as cleaning your teeth or relaxing on the sofa at the end of a busy day – that you fully experience its benefits.
We can tell ourselves all the reasons in the world why we can’t make yoga a regular part of our day – we’re too busy, or that there’s nowhere to do it, or that we need the structure of a class and so on…
But, if you do adopt yoga as part of your regular routine, there are multiple benefits for your physical and emotional health and wellbeing. Here are just a few, along with some suggestions for how to do it:
(1) Improve your core strength
Why: Regular yoga practice helps to increase flexibility, strengthen your muscles and improve your posture. This can help to alleviate niggling aches and pains.
How: The good thing about yoga is you don’t need much space to practice or any special equipment. Find a quiet corner of your home where you could roll out your yoga mat and practice a few simple stretches and poses. Just 15 minutes a day will make a difference.
(2) Reduce stress
Why: This is a biggie as stress can have both a physical and mental impact. Yoga and meditative practice encourages us to focus on our breathing which helps to calm the mind and ease physical tension. Studies show that people who practise yoga, breathing and meditation have a lower heart rate so the body is better able to cope with stress.
How: You can meditate for 10 minutes just about anywhere. Try it on the train going in to work, in your lunch break, or in the car (while it is parked!) after dropping your children off at school. Identify the 10-15 minute gaps in your day when you could introduce a meditation practice.
(3) Become more mindful
Why: Yoga encourages us to bring our attention to the here and now, quieting our internal chatter and becoming more focused. In turn this can help us to be calmer, quieter and more focused.
How: You don’t experience mindfulness only while you are doing yoga. Once you have mastered the technique of breathing and bringing your attention back to the here and now you can make it a regular practice during the day, wherever you are, whatever you are doing. Stop, breathe and bring your attention back to the present moment.
(4) Sleep better
Why: Because yoga lowers your heart rate and reduces stress it can help you to sleep better and can even combat insomnia. It also relieves aches and pains which can prevent you from sleeping.
How: Try lying on your back with your feet up the wall or adopt the forward fold. Both poses will help your body to naturally relax, which will simultaneously calm your mind.
Why: Breathing is controlled by our subconscious mind without us really thinking about it. Factors like stress and anxiety lead to more rapid, shallow breathing which can further fuel our anxiety. In yoga we learn how to breathe deeply and slowly from the pit of the stomach which both calms the body and mind and increases lung capacity.
How: You can practice yogic breathing anywhere in a completely discreet and unobtrusive way. The more you practice, the easier it becomes to slow your breathing as a way of managing stress and anxiety.
These are just five reasons to adopt yoga as a daily practice. There are many more – from thinking more clearly to living longer and healthier.
London Yoga Classes
London hosts some of the best yoga studios in the UK and worldwide, giving you access to teachers with a wealth of experience to share with you. If you want to learn the essentials of yoga practice so you too can bring yoga into your daily routine, search for a yoga studio near you.