25 Reasons to Commit to a Daily Yoga Practice by Lily Russo
Having started practicing yoga from a young age, I knew for years that yoga was good for me. Every time I took a class I felt great and my day went better. Yoga physically changed my body, made me feel and look great, and helped me focus on my studies, giving me more confidence. Though all these things were true, I barely practiced at home. At first I didn’t practice at home because I didn’t really know what to do. After several years of classes I knew some postures and a basic sun salutation; still, I didn’t make the commitment. Even after my first teacher training, I had yet to practice on my own every day. I confess it took another 7 years before I finally had a daily practice! I began to crave it and noticed that when I didn’t practice I felt physically and mentally worse during the day.
Now I can hardly imagine living without a daily practice; it brings so many benefits
including balance, ease, focus and a sense of real, true health. The discipline of getting on my mat every morning and listening to my breath as I move my body with intention, has given rise to a slew of healthy habits. It helps me pause before I react, listen before I talk, slow down, and eat better, just to name a few.
So, I am here to inspire you: don’t put it off for years like I did! Here are 25 reasons to encourage you to commit to your daily yoga practice:
1. It’s free!
2. You don’t need any special equipment; do it on a rug, on the grass, on the floor! You can literally take your practice with you everywhere.
3. You can just roll out of bed onto the floor in your pajamas. You don’t need fancy yoga clothes or special gym shoes.
4. You don’t have to worry about strange noises coming out of your body to embarrass you in front of the rest of a class.
5. There is no one else to keep up with or compare yourself to.
6. You can tailor your practice to the poses and pace that suit you best. No class will ever be able to do that as well as you! Every body has unique needs every day.
7. Yoga makes you more productive. If your excuse is, “I’m too busy, I don’t have time,” getting up half an hour earlier to practice will prove that yoga creates more time in your day. The resulting relaxation and focus from your practice makes you more efficient.
8. Yoga increases your energy! A morning yoga practice energizes you by increasing your oxygen intake and stimulating blood flow throughout your whole body
9. Yoga revs your metabolism so you can eat more delicious, healthy food!
10. A regular practice helps you fall asleep more easily and stay asleep at night. By bringing your attention to the present and reducing stress, yoga brings your cortisol levels down and stops distracting thoughts from keeping you up at night.
11. Yoga strengthens your joints, preventing and ameliorating the effects of osteoporosis and aging. This keeps minor falls or injuries from turning into major damage.
12. Yoga lubricates, lengthens and strengthens your spine, causing better posture, relief from back pain and prevention of serious spinal injuries.
13. Yoga detoxifies you from environmental and food pollution through the inner massage of your organs in yogic twists and the increase of fresh blood moving throughout your body.
14. Inverting your head below your heart gives you a shift in perspective, takes a load off your heart and is stimulating and energizing.
15. Consciously breathing while on your mat creates the habit of noticing your breath throughout the whole day, helping you 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 foot exercise contributes to flat feet and pronated ankles, in turn causing serious problems like plantar fasciitis, shin splints and knee pain. Freeing your feet by being barefoot on your mat and recruiting all the muscles of the feet and ankles to balance can reverse issues caused by flat feet. Standing on your bare feet is also very grounding and balancing for your energy.
17. Yoga boosts the immune system by reducing the stress hormones that compromise it. Daily practice stimulates the lungs, heart and digestive system to shed toxins and pathogens and drains the lymphatic system as well.
18. Yoga can relieve cold symptoms. Gentle movement and certain Pranayamas (breathing exercises) help ease congestion and promote your body’s healing.
19. Practicing good posture on your mat creates better postural habits during the day. You’ll save your back and neck from long-term tension and holding your head up inspires grace and confidence.
20. Yoga reduces anxiety! Lengthening your inhales and exhales and focusing your mind on the present keeps anxious and negative thought patterns at bay.
21. Yoga gives you much-needed “MeTime.” Everyone needs time for quiet contemplation, especially caretakers and people who work with others all day. Taking care of yourself first gives you more energy and love to offer to others.
22. Yoga increases your sense of gratitude. Gratitude seems to be a buzzword these days, yet science shows that feeling thankful boosts health, relieves depression and anxiety, and increases pleasure in life. Traditional yoga asana honors the sun as the source of life and symbol of the divine. When you reach your arms to the sky and bow down to touch the earth, you are saying thank you to the resources that support your life. Meditation practices such as metta (lovingkindness) are also ways to express gratitude for what you have.
23. Yoga opens your heart. For the skeptics out there this phrase (so commonly heard nowadays in yoga classes and espoused by self-help authors) might trigger your inner cynic. But stretching the chest in back bends and resting in shavasana with your whole body open and vulnerable, noticeably peels back the energetic layers you have built to protect yourself from past and future wounds. With practice you will
agree that heart-opening postures truly allow you to release fear and pain and let in more love and joy.
24. Yoga decreases inflammation. Inflammation seems to be another contemporary catch phrase, but with good reason. We are becoming more aware that inflammation creates pain and disease and is caused by such things as sugar and stress. Studies have shown that yoga decreases pro-inflammatory molecules in the body, inhibits cancer growth and especially benefits arthritis and fibromyalgia sufferers.
25. Yoga gives you purpose. A powerful way to begin your daily practice is by setting an intention for your day. Doing this primes you to live with a sense of meaning and purpose. Your intention can be as simple as to be present with each breath, each movement and each thought.
If you have ever taken a yoga class and walked away feeling great, don’t postpone your commitment to a daily yoga practice. Why wait until you injure yourself from lack of mobility? Or have trouble maintaining a healthy weight? Or have difficulty falling asleep at night? Or you feel a lack of purpose or overwhelmed by responsibilities? If you already suffer from any of these issues, even more reason to start right now!
If you have little to no experience with yoga there are countless books, DVDs, YouTube videos, and apps that can help you get started. Better yet, talk to a yoga teacher that you resonate with about helping you create a simple routine that you can follow at home. And when you need more inspiration, re-read this list!
Lily Russo is a local yoga teacher and artist. Her classes are a practice in intention and surrender. This year she is excited about her newest offering: the 100 Hour Self-Discovery Yoga Immersion, a way to learn all about the yoga path and develop a personal practice. Learn more at www.LilyRussoYoga.com.