I personally find the practice of yoga to be the most rewarding mind and body exercise that I have ever undertaken. Unlike many types of physical exercise, yoga is subtle and comparatively easy, allowing a simple five or ten minutes per day to translate into real, visible results. If you’re considering starting a yoga regiment or simply need a reminder as to why you do it every day, check out my top six reasons for maintaining the practice!
One of the absolute keys to yoga is the control of the breath. The timed breathing that flows so smoothly with each pose and posture helps one to be more aware of the most fundamental action that your body undertakes each and every moment of your life. Steady, monitored breathing leads directly to increased physical stamina and intense relaxation, two of the biggest boons to yoga. As you continue to practice you will find that you become more and more mindful of your breathing every minute of the day, leading to extended stress relief and overall calmness of mind, body and spirit.
2. The Physical Benefits
Whether you choose to undertake a slow and steady practice or more physically demanding postures, yoga is directly akin to all other beneficial exercises. The stretching and straining involved in all forms of yoga will lead almost immediately to increased flexibility, more and better muscle tone and the loss of fat. See for yourself; 30 minutes of even moderately difficult poses will have you sweating like you went for a run!
3. Increased Mindfulness
As mentioned in point number one, controlled breathing helps lead directly to everyday mindfulness of your body’s most fundamental functioning. Yoga practice also gives you the opportunity to stay in touch with the rest of your body by combining physical relaxation with deep mental stimulation. The longer I practice, the more in tune with myself and the universe I feel and there is nothing better than feeling like you are genuinely in tune with yourself, inside and out.
4. Do it for the Kids!
Yoga practice is a wonderful thing to teach and perform with your children, helping them to understand the absolute importance of peak physical health. Too often in Western society we become dulled to the need for fitness and longevity, focusing instead on the instant gratification offered by fast food and laziness. My two-year-old isn’t much for 30 minutes of practice but he strikes a mean tree pose and helps to make my practice exponentially more enjoyable.
5. Mental Development
While yoga offers much in the way of physical exercise, it also creates the opportunity for clarity of mind and insight. The fluid movement and steady breath that the practice of yoga entails naturally creates a peaceful place for both body and mind, allowing you to experience the mental clarity and evolvement that comes hand in hand with not only yoga, but many mindfulness training practices.
6. Sleep Well, Every Night
I have no clear facts or evidence to demonstrate the effect that yoga has on sleep patterns but I can say with true authority that a day for me that includes 15 or 30 minutes of practice is guaranteed to end with a fit, restful sleep. A day with no yoga might see me sleep a full eight hours with only a slightly rested feeling while yoga creates in me the ability to sleep a scant six hours while waking up alert and rested, ready to attack the day. Peacefulness in the mind body and exercise in the physical body add up to allow one to reach a deep sleep more quickly, giving your body the ability to maximize the benefit of each and every moment that you slumber.
In summation: do yoga! It can be as little as five minutes each morning before work or each night before you hit the sack; unlike many forms of exercise, the benefits of yoga can be seen and felt immediately and will increase steadily in the long term. Many people that I talk to are extremely surprised that, after attempting and then quitting everything from jogging to jump rope, they feel absolutely compelled to continue their yogic practice with no prompting whatsoever – yoga simply speaks for itself!
photo by daily pleasure
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