We know, we know… You’ve heard it before. Yoga is great, and if you’re not doing it you definitely should be. But if you’re like us, sometimes you need a little bit of motivation to get your ass back to the mat. First things first, stop beating yourself up about it. It’s called a yoga PRACTICE for a reason. That’s exactly what we’re doing, practicing yoga, not mastering yoga. Which sounds pretty damn cheesy, we agree. But it also means it’s totally okay to fall out of practice every now and again. Believe us when we tell you, you are not alone! What matter’s more is that you consistently make your way back to the mat. Here, we give you our top reasons, science backed even, for making time for our mats regularly.
1. Improved flexibility
We’d be lying if we said improved flexibility wasn’t one of the top reasons we keep up a yoga practice. But it’s not only because we like being flexible. Who doesn’t love a juicy forward fold? We know what it feels like when we stop practicing. And you know what we found? Things hurt. We’re young at heart, but our backs still hurt every once in a while, just like everybody else. Studies suggest pure flexibility doesn’t have a lot of benefit. Omg! What? I know. We said it and we’re yoga teachers, and we’re not gonna take it back. Keep in mind, it’s not the flexibility that we’re aiming for, it’s what comes with flexibility that we’re after: like, for example, increased circulation to muscles, which then increases their longevity and active potential. And all that really means, is we significantly reduce our chances for injury.
2. Improved attitude and mental state
Just like you every now and again we get mad. Ok angry. Ok really fucking annoyed. We’re human, not mythical creatures, as hard as we may try. Maybe in our next lifetime things will turn out differently, but for now, we do our best. Have you ever jumped on your yoga mat when you’re really frustrated? Is it just us, or is your practice just that much more amazing? You push that much harder, hold that much longer, and breathe that much deeper. And in the end your body is pumped with feel good endorphins and you walk away with that yoga high. It only takes one of these classes to get hooked and over time you start to notice the deep breathing exercise taking place unconsciously off the mat. Which leads us to our next point…
3. Increased respiration and overall quality of breath
After your first year of seriously practicing yoga, you probably started to notice a change to your breathing patterns, especially if you were hanging around those who weren’t. There’s something fulfilling about the ability to take in a complete controlled breath, and the satisfaction that comes with the exhale, oooh baby, it’s good. But what’s fascinating is how disconnected people have become from their breath, and the truly transformative properties that accompany its control.
4. That change in the way you look at life
We’ve said it already, but there’s something special about that yoga high. That sense of freedom walking out of a magical yoga session. Your day is a little brighter, the world seems a little nicer, and life just seems to function a little bit easier. And that’s the real magic of yoga. You begin to recognize your positive and negative states of being, and how much more enjoyable life is when we’re floating around in that positive state. All the little gems of wisdom the yoga teachers say about letting go, being in the moment, and connecting regularly to the breath begin to register outside of class.
5. Increased muscle strength and tone
So, here’s the thing: yoga isn’t about nailing a handstand, jumping into a crow pose, or transitioning from 8-angle into a vinyasa, but we’d be lying if we didn’t tell you how strong yoga can make you. And the best part is, you don’t even need to do those crazy postures mentioned above to begin building strength. Find teachers that challenge you physically, that teach you how to take your practice to the next step by challenging your body in the positions. Yoga is all about building blocks, even the posture. If you take your time, take it step-by-step, and don’t cheat yourself on the practice, one day you can nail that pose too. Whether you’re looking for a stronger triangle, or a stronger crow, the same rules will apply.
6. Helps you sleep
Lastly. Yoga. Helps. You. Sleep. But why? Of all the systems in the body, the two most helpful to understand for our yoga practice are the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous systems. Throughout our day we bounce around between the two of them as we navigate the various stresses of life. But in 2021 for many of us, life has us sitting mostly in this sympathetic state, constantly worrying about work, home life, kids, friends, family, and the list goes on and on. Yoga, specifically our savasana practice, teaches us how beneficial the rest & digest state can be. And over time savasana ultimately becomes a muscle memory experience for us when we go to bed at night.
Yoga. Helps. You. Sleep. Most of us have experienced the sleepy effects of a kick ass class followed by a meaty savasana. This simply comes down to you teaching your body that rest is a good thing. There are tons of systems in the body concerning the cranial nerves and the communication occurring throughout the body. It’s not super important for you to know them all, but it is helpful to understand the difference between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Better known as our fight (sympathetic) or flight (parasympathetic) response. For the most part, life has us sitting in this sympathetic state, constantly worrying about work, home life, kids, friends, family, and the list goes on and on. Yoga, specifically our savasana practice, teaches us how beneficial the rest & digest state can be. Savasana ultimately becomes a muscle memory experience for us when we go to bed at night.