Hello again! Let’s get on board the yoga train! I want to discuss the reasons you should incorporate yoga into your everyday routine. Yoga isn’t exclusive to girls, vegan loving tree huggers or those with extreme flexibility. Whether you are male, female, short, tall, flexible or not; you can do this. Yoga is for everyone; Yoga is for you!
My life changed in ways I never conceived by practicing yoga and meditation every day. Most importantly, I love my body for the first time. My mornings are enjoyable, I pop out of bed early, even on days I am off work. I am greeted by sunrise and once finished I am ready for whatever the day holds. Never have I ever woke up and made excuses why I can’t practice today.
All right, on we go!
1. Improve Your Flexibility and Build Strength
I am not what I consider flexible. While I gained flexibility, I require more work to accomplish poses that incorporate splits. You need not be flexible to start yoga. I am proof of this.
You will become more flexible with consistent practice. Soon, you will pull off difficult poses and relish in the excitement. You will experience added benefits. For example, I can sit in half lotus for longer periods. I am loving the sense of being bendy!
Tone it up
I began my yoga journey because I wanted to connect with my body and be content with my body image. Whether my age or my personality, I do not wish to endure a strenuous workout; been there, done that. Yoga is more up my alley, so to speak.
I was not expecting to tone up and build strength as much as I did. I see yoga instructors that look amazing and fit, but assumed they add more to their workout regimen. This may or may not be true. I have added nothing to my routine and I have not only built strength but have noticeable tone.
It is important to note; diet is an enormous consideration if you wish to achieve results. Ever hear the term; “Abs are made in the kitchen.”? This term holds weight, no pun intended. After a month of consistent yoga (60 minutes a day) my arms started toning up and thinning out and my legs are more taut. After two months plus a new diet, my stomach has the first sign of baby abs, emphasis on baby! The number on my scale didn’t drastically change; my body did.
2. Sustainable weight loss
Weight loss may not be your goal, it wasn’t for me. But I’d be lying if I said I was happy when I looked at my body in the mirror. I knew I needed a different mindset about my body. I began my journey with improved health in mind, not expectations of physical change.
Be prepared; weight loss is slow going. It’s not one of those, “Lose 10 lbs in 10 days!” promises, but this solution is sustainable. Come to terms with slower weight loss for long-term sustainability. When you take your time, you don’t need a restrictive diet and/or strenuous exercise. To each their own; restrictive diets and excessive exercise make me miserable.
When I started practicing 3 months ago I weighed 64 kg, this morning I weighed 60 kg. That’s 1.33 kg per month/0.33 kg per week. For those unfamiliar with kg, this equals 8.81 lbs/2.93 lbs per month/0.73 lbs per week. I don’t weigh myself daily, but I weighed myself today to share my results. I choose not to weigh myself daily because doing this skews my perception; I don’t see that little needle moving and I begin the shaming or thinking I should eat less. That said, if you use the scale to track goals, do so. If you find doing this makes you anxious or you are comparing your weight loss to others, ditch the scale.
It all comes down to what works for you. I will arrive at my natural weight, whatever that is. We all have unique bodies and they are all beautiful. You need not compare your body to others; they are not you. It’s time to normalize our bodies; rolls, cellulite, stretch marks, skin imperfections, etc. are normal.
Point being, if you want to lose weight; you will. You need to maintain consistency and a good diet for the best results, no matter your goals.
3. Increased Energy Levels
Who doesn’t love that charged up feeling you get when you have energy? We want gobs of energy throughout the day, sans help from an energy drink or coffee. If you can get your body moving in the morning; you increase your energy.
Yoga awakens and opens your energy centers or chakras. You can practice several poses to raise energy levels, such as bridge pose, camel pose, downward dog (love this pose), upward facing dog, and sphinx pose to name a few. For more poses, visit Yoga Journal. This site has provided me with an excellent amount of quality information.
Note: If you practice in the morning, which I believe is the best time, I suggest you begin with a warm-up. I do this to give my muscles a wake-up call. I do a flow of forward fold, downward dog, low lunge (each side) and repeat if needed. By doing this, it increases my initial flexibility, otherwise I am tight in the morning and my first few minutes less enjoyable.
4. Raise Your Awareness and Mindfulness
Unbeknownst to me, yoga helped my meditations, awareness and mindfulness. Yoga helps you learn to focus on breathing and being present. When you can do this, you bring more mindfulness to your life off-the-mat.
For instance, while practicing balancing poses, if I don’t focus on breathing, I fall. I must be present and mindful of my breaths. Yoga, for me, is a meditation and meditation isn’t just having an empty mind, but a present mind. Yoga helped me learn how to do this and has brought value to my meditations and beyond.
The time I spend doing yoga and meditating, training my brain to be present, carries me throughout the day. I am more mindful of my off-the-mat activities.
5. Reduce Daily Stress
We all endure an impressive amount of stress in our daily lives. Even those of us with a more relaxed schedule are dealing with everyday stress. Much of our stress is self-inflicted. So, let’s take control and unwind the stress we put on ourselves.
Any exercise will reduce stress. In my experience, yoga, over any exercise I’ve practiced, aside from walking, gave the most stress relief. Instead of getting amped up, as I did while practicing Jujitsu; I am bringing myself to a state of calm; I listen to relaxing music, and my movements are slow and controlled. Each 60 minute yoga sesh I complete is an accomplishment.
When I remove some stress before I do anything else in my day, I can approach situations that trigger stress with a level head. Overtime, I have noticed a calmness that was missing prior.
6. Improve Your Quality of Sleep
Do you sleep enough? Whether work related or watching your favorite Netflix series (I am guilty of this), we don’t place enough value on sleep. We train our brain to be active all the time, to meet the demands of the day. Sleep is the time for your brain to rest.
When your brain is carrying on with thoughts of the current day, the next day and everything in between, it’s difficult to drift off to dreamland. Yoga has taught me how to calm and center myself through breath work. This puts me on the fast track to sleepy town.
You can also practice yoga before bed, many poses help deep relaxation and thus better sleep. I don’t do this. But perhaps I will try for a month and report back to you.
7. Raise your Vibe!
With the benefits you are reaping from your daily yoga routine, you will no doubt experience a mood boost. Less stress, more sleep, more energy, increased awareness and mindfulness are a recipe for a positive outlook. The recent habits you have formed, make your vibe skyrocket!
Raise your vibe even more!
I follow yoga and mediation with journaling. I do this while listening to a high vibrational playlist. There is truth to how the music you listen to affects your moods. Music with fewer words and more, well, music will leave more charged and happy.
It starts with yoga. When you create space for a healthy mind, the body will follow. Even doing 10 minutes a day, you get the same benefits.
Where to begin?
I practiced or tried to practice yoga for 3 years. I never experienced desired results. I tried every free app imaginable. Nothing kept my interest or provided enough variety. I got bored and quit.
In April, I started using the Down Dog App during a free trial because of quarantine. There is a $7.99 per month subscription cost, however, it’s a quality app with excellent variety. If I had to choose between Spotify premium and Down Dog, I’d choose Down Dog. You can start with an easy flow, such as Hatha, a slower flow with no chaturanga push-ups. Although I must tell you, these push-ups have my arms looking better than ever!
How I started
I started with 20 minutes of sun salutations or restorative yoga. Once I got a back into the groove, I switched over to the standard vinyasa flow; the app calls this “Full Practice”. I began with 20 minutes, then 30 minutes, 45 minutes and now I can do 60 minutes.
Note: I have days when my body is tired. On these days I do restorative or yin yoga. It is more relaxed and focused on stretching. When I am tired, just by moving a little I experience more energy throughout the day; it’s better than skipping it all together.
Take a Tour of the Down Dog App With Me!
List of the Down Dog App Features:
- 11 unique types of practice
- 5 levels from beginner thru advanced
- Add a boost – this allows you to select a focus point, for example, the core, glutes, upper body, etc.
- Length of the practice ranges from 5 to 90 minutes.
- Length of final resting pose, savasana from none – 15 minutes. You could use that time to meditate and practice breathing.
- You can also select the voice commands, background music, pacing, and how much explanation you receive, from very detailed to nothing at all.
This app also comes with a variety of other fitness apps, all included with your subscription. It is a great app and changes up your routine often. I selected core for a focus for 5 days in a row, keeping all settings the same and did not get the same routine twice. I get no kick backs if you sign up. In my humble opinion, Down Dog is a brilliant place to start. It is worth the cost.
I hope are feeling inspired to break out that yoga mat I know you have somewhere in your house. If you are like me, you probably have, or in my case had, an array of fitness equipment. All purchased hoping to look like the models that sell them. While we may never achieve that, you can become healthy. Being fit is not having a six-pack, it is a mind and body connection that incorporates your activity and what fuels your body and spirit.