I started practicing yoga at a young age, so I've known for years that yoga is good for me simply because of how it makes me feel. Every time I take a class, I leave feeling great. It physically changes my body, improves my focus, and gives me confidence.
In college, I'd take classes two to three times a week. It took me seven years of learning and teaching yoga before I finally developed a daily practice—because I began to crave it. I noticed that when I didn't practice, I felt physically and mentally worse during the day.
Still, I only went to class two or three times per week, and I barely practiced at home. It took me seven years of learning and teaching yoga before I finally had a daily practice—because I began to crave it. I noticed that when I didn't practice, I felt physically and mentally worse during the day.
Now that I have that daily practice, I can hardly imagine living without it. It brings so many benefits to my life, and I'm talking about benefits far beyond a flat belly and a yoga butt. I'm talking about a sense of balance, ease, and focus in my day, a sense of real, true health.
Don't put a daily practice off for years like I did. If you have taken a yoga class and walked away feeling great, don't wait until you injure yourself from lack of mobility or have trouble falling asleep at night. If you need more reasons to develop a home practice, I've come up with 25 of them. Because yes, yoga really is that good.
1. It's free!
2. You don't need any special equipment; you can do it anywhere: on a rug, on the grass, on the floor. So even when you're on a trip, you can take your practice with you.
3. You can wear your pajamas. You can just roll out of bed onto the floor. You don't need fancy yoga clothes or special gym shoes.
4. You don't have to worry about any strange noises that come out of your body to embarrass you in front of a class. That's a nice bonus, right?
5. You won't have to worry about comparing yourself with or keeping up with anyone else.
6. You can tailor your practice to the poses and pace that suit you best. No class will ever be able to do that better than you because every body has unique and different needs every day.
7. Yoga makes you more productive. Seriously, if one of your excuses is, "I'm too busy; I don't have time!" try getting up half an hour earlier to practice first thing. You'll soon realize that a yoga practice creates more time in your day.
8. Yoga increases your energy. Along with making you more efficient with your time by helping you stay relaxed and focused, a morning yoga practice energizes you by increasing your oxygen intake and stimulating blood flow across your whole body.
9. Yoga revs your metabolism, so you can eat more delicious, healthy food!
10. A regular yoga practice helps you fall asleep and stay asleep. By bringing your attention to the present and reducing stress, a yoga practice will lower cortisol levels and stop distracting thoughts from keeping you up at night.
11. Yoga strengthens your joints, preventing and ameliorating the effects of osteoporosis and aging. This prevents minor falls or injuries from turning into major damage!
12. Yoga lubricates, lengthens, and strengthens your spine, leading to better posture, relief from back pain, and prevention of serious spinal injuries.
13. Yoga detoxifies you from the effects of environmental and food pollution through the inner massage of your organs in yogic twists.
14. Inverting your head below your heart gives you a shift in perspective and takes a load off your heart. It's also stimulating and energizing.
15. Consciously breathing while on your mat helps you to create the habit of noticing your breath during your whole day, helping you to take in more energy, expand your lung capacity, and stay focused on the moment.
16. Yoga saves your feet. Feet that are bound up in shoes all day get sore and tired. Unsupportive shoes and lack of exercise for the feet can contribute to having flat feet and pronated ankles, causing serious problems like plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and knee pain. Free those feet!
17. Yoga gives a strong boost to the immune system by reducing the stress hormones that compromise it; stimulating the lungs, heart, and digestive system to help shed toxins and pathogens; and draining the lymphatic system.
18. Yoga can relieve cold symptoms. Gentle movement and certain pranayamas (breathing exercises) help ease congestion and promote the body's healing
19. By practicing good posture on your mat, you create better postural habits during your day. You'll save your back and neck from long-term tension. By holding your head up, you'll move through your day with grace and confidence.
20. Yoga reduces anxiety. By practicing lengthening your inhales and exhales and focusing your mind on the present, a yoga routine helps keep anxiety at bay.
21. Yoga gives you a much-needed opportunity for "me time." Everyone needs some time for quiet contemplation, especially people who work with other people all day or who are caretakers. By taking care of yourself first, you will have more energy and love to offer to others.
22. Yoga increases your sense of gratitude. Gratitude seems to be a buzzword these days, and even conventional science is now saying that a sense of gratitude boosts health, relieves depression and anxiety, and increases your sense of pleasure in life.
23. Yoga opens your heart. For the skeptics out there, this phrase so commonly heard nowadays in yoga classes and by self-help authors might trigger your inner cynic. But take some to practice stretching the chest in backbends and resting in savasana with your whole body open and vulnerable, and you will probably start to notice that yoga peels back the energetic layers that you have built to protect you from past and future wounds. With time you will begin to agree that these "opening the heart" practices truly allow you to release fear and pain and let more love and joy in.
24. Yoga decreases inflammation. Studies have shown that yoga decreases pro-inflammatory molecules in the body, inhibiting cancer growth and especially benefiting people who suffer from arthritis and fibromyalgia.
25. Yoga gives you purpose. A powerful way to begin a daily practice is by setting an intention for your day. By doing this, you prime yourself to live with a sense of meaning and purpose. Your intention can be as simple as the intention to be present with each breath, each movement, and each thought.