Even if you have never been to a single yoga class or attempted one downward-facing dog in your life, you are probably still aware of yoga and some of its benefits. Yoga might seem simple enough, stretch (asana), breathe (pranayama), meditate (dhyana), but this ancient practice is infinite it the ways it can improve your overall health, from flexibility and strength to mental health, mood and even ageing. This year at school I completed my Research Project on the benefits of yoga, and the 1500 word limit meant I had to summarise many of the benefits into just a few short sentences. Without a word limit my report would have many thousands of words more.
There is a great yoga movement in the Western world and today it is quite accepted as a legitimate form of exercise. But it is really more than just exercise, because of the unique and powerful combination of deep breathing, specific stretching and compression and meditation which puts it on its own level compared to your standard sweat-it-out gym session. Not that these sessions aren’t beneficial, they are, but if everyone practiced yoga the world would be an amazing place.
Yoga not only improves your physical health, but through the meditation and the focus in practice it can bring you inner peace, make you more patient, more grateful, happier and just generally more content. You see the world through your ‘yoga glasses’ and it is a great thing.
To find out more on how incredible yoga is, click here (my research report), or just type yoga benefits into Google and start reading.
If you have never practiced yoga before it is quite easy to get started. If you can, find a local studio where you can take classes especially in the beginning to learn the basics and how to coordinate your breath and movements and allow the instructor to modify the asanas according to your flexibility, strength and experience. However, there are also great DIY yoga books you can use and apps for smartphones that you can download (many for free) and use to guide you through a simple practice. That way you can practice yoga from your own home each and every day.
There is a great hashtag which has started appearing on Instagram; #yogaeverydamnday. I believe after #yoga, it is the second most popular yoga-related hashtag, which goes to show there are a LOT of people out there practicing yoga. One of my favourite Instagram yogis is the incredible Rachel Brathen, @yoga_girl. If she doesn’t inspire you to practice yoga I don’t know what will!
Since the 29th September this year, after discovering #yogaeverydamnday, I have been practicing my little bit of yoga each and every day. With a busy schedule, some days I find time only for one or two stretches and a few minutes of meditation and deep breathing, but even this makes me feel INCREDIBLE. And I sleep infinitely better when I have meditated just before bed, so it is great for me, who has always had trouble sleeping when I am stressed or busy. Other days I do a full one hour of practice and that feels pretty awesome too. I am no yoga expert, but I know how it makes me feel and I am hoping to go a full year of doing yoga every single day, especially as I am heading into my final year of high school studies and my stress levels will no doubt increase. Yoga is going to be my antidote and my saviour, even just a few minutes each day, or even just one minute of deep breathing and mindfulness on the bus or waiting in line. Every little bit counts with yoga.
Do you practice yoga? How do you include it into your everyday schedule?
Keep healthy, Erica xx