Posts

5 Signs Your Body and Mind Want You to Practice Yoga

Do you suffer from a tight, rigid body? Do you ever feel like you’ve been breathing shallowly all day? Can you not recall the last time you truly relaxed on a regular, routine day?

If any of these sound familiar, your body and mind are trying to tell you to step onto your yoga mat.

And if the excuse at the tip of your tongue is that you’re too busy, that’s exactly why you should make time for yoga. The practice of yoga connects you to your innermost self – a sacred space where you’re able to move trapped emotions out of your body.

Here are five not-so-silent signs you should get back in the studio.

1. Your body feels extraordinarily tight and rigid.

A tight, inflexible body often comes from sitting too much. If your days are filled with long commutes or motionless hours at a desk, you’ll benefit greatly from the dynamic movements and hip openers found in a yoga class. Check out these tips on how to incorporate yoga into your desk job.

2. You often find that your breathing is short and rapid.

Short breaths are a sign that you may be stressed. The world doesn’t often prepare us with the tools we need to stay centered in stressful situations. If you feel like you’ve been breathing shallowly and unconsciously all day, yoga’s breathing techniques – like Ujjayi – can help. They take us out of our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and move us into our parasympathetic response, which looks a lot more like rest and digest.

3. You feel mentally unbalanced or suffer from a mental illness.

If you’re struggling with anxiety or depression – whether in the short-term or a long-term condition – yoga can be your best friend. By lowering cortisol levels and releasing the tension, yoga calms the mind’s chatter and lowers your blood pressure and heart rate. Read more about how yogic breath eases symptoms of anxiety.

4. You’re not sleeping well.

For those who suffer from insomnia or who simply struggle with a lack of sleep once in a while, yoga provides a better sleep quality for practitioners. Psychology Today demonstrates the truthfulness in this using a study conducted by Harvard Medical School. And here are a couple of poses I recommend weaving into your home practice to help you sleep better.

5. You can’t remember the last time you relaxed on a regular, routine day.

I’m not talking about taking a vacation or going to the spa. When was the last time you made room for relaxing self-care in your regular routine? If this is the case for you, your body and mind are likely begging you to step on the mat, so you can learn to relax your body and clear your chaotic mind.

Whether you’re a regular member or have never stepped onto a yoga mat, chances are your body and mind are not-so-subtly telling you it’s time to practice. Trust me, you’ll see the benefits.

10 Reasons Why we Step on our Yoga Mats

If you’re new to yoga or have never practiced before, you may be wondering: why the heck do people submit themselves to this crazy yoga practice? And if you’re a seasoned yogi, it’s always worth reminding yourself exactly why you step onto your mat each day.

Most people start practicing yoga hoping to gain a combination of flexibility, strength, and stress relief. But most yogis experience a change of heart regarding why they do yoga – most often pointing to self-compassion, spirituality, and community as the lasting benefits.

Let’s look at 10 different reasons why people do yoga, starting with the physical and moving into the deeper reasons.

1. Yoga provides better flexibility and mobility. Over time, even the stiffest muscles can stretch and lengthen. But one of yoga’s biggest strengths as an exercise form is the functional flexibility it offers to make it easier to complete everyday movements – such as kneeling, bending, or reaching.

2. It builds full-body strength. Yoga is a full-body workout. In any given class, you’ll touch on just about every muscle group in your body with both long, static holds, and fluid, dynamic movement. By supporting your own body weight and intentionally pulling each muscle up and in, you’re building functional strength right where you need it.

3. Yoga relieves stress. Yoga balances your body, mind, and nervous system, helping you relieve tension, ease your frantic mind, and steady your breath. Perhaps most importantly, it forces you into mindful awareness of the way you react to difficult situations, preparing you to respond more positively in the face of future stress. Read more about relieving anxiety through the power of the breath here: The Power of Yogic Breath to Relieve Anxiety

4. It detoxifies your body. Twisting poses and backward bends help give your body’s natural rhythms a boost. When you move in these poses, you squeeze your organs, pumping fresh blood throughout your body and removing waste from your cells.

5. Yoga reminds you to breathe. In class, you’re continually reminded to inhale deeply and exhale slowly, allowing you to notice when your breath is suffering – whether from physical exertion or emotional toil. I can’t tell you how many times this practice has helped me cool down off my mat – either by offering physical relief or preventing me from saying or doing something I would regret.

6. It helps increase concentration. I believe most of us today have concentration troubles, resulting from this digital age and the many tasks constantly tugging us in different directions. Yoga teaches you to continually observe your body, breath, and emotions. It focuses your mind on one pose at a time – often for much longer than you’d prefer! Over time, this practice can increase your ability to focus off the mat – boosting creativity and energy.

7. Yoga increases self confidence. Beginners and experts alike struggle, sweat, and fall over quite often in yoga class. But, guess what? No one is here to judge you on your performance. So, learn to laugh at yourself and keep showing up on your mat. Because, dedication to your practice will bring improvement – even if it’s not in the way you expected.

8. It helps you live in the present. If you spend much of your days planning, worrying, or regretting your actions, yoga can help you unplug and focus on what’s going on in your body and mind in this moment. Give it a try if for no other reason than setting technology aside for 75 minutes. Through breathwork and experience, you’ll learn to live in the present off your mat too.

9. It encourages playfulness. How often as adults do we get to practice new things, like balancing on our head or flipping upside down? Yoga brings you back to that child-like mind, where you explored and approached new situations with curiosity and playfulness, rather than anger and ego.

10. Finally, yoga builds community and connection to an ancient lineage. When you practice yoga, you become part of a four thousand year old tradition. You’ll discover a multitude of tools for enriching your lives – from meditation to health tips, and much more. Yoga can provide an amazing opportunity to discover new friendships, teachers, and communities. I can tell you that I’m continually inspired by the teachers and students who walk through these doors.

The truth is that yoga is not about simply changing your brain or your body. It transcends those goals and helps you connect to what you already have – and who you already are.

So, why do you practice yoga? I’d love to hear some of the reasons you step onto your mat each day!