Do you do yoga? It’s something I always recommend yoga to my stressed out clients. It’s incredible for reducing cortisol, the major stress hormone, and getting people to focus on the quality of their breathing. In addition, a recent study shows that yoga and meditation can significantly improve brain function and energy levels.
Personally, I used to favour high intensity exercise like spinning or HIIT. I love the feeling of being sweaty and full of endorphins after a good workout. I’ve done yoga over the years, but always tended to favour ashtanga yoga, again for that feeling of having done a great sweaty workout.
Then at the end of July, my right knee really started to bother me and I ended up spraining it after doing a particularly vigorous HIIT session full of jump lunges and squats. I didn’t want to stop working out, but I knew I needed to find something that was gentle on my knees and could help the healing process.
I have friends that are yogis and I’ve always watched their Instagram posts of their various poses with a mix of joy and awe. Then when I got injured, I thought: ‘I should actually try this now’.
And so I did. I had heard a lot of good things about the 30 day introductory programme from Yoga with Adriene, so I fired up the YouTube app and off I went.
You might be asking why I didn’t just head to a local yoga class? Well, I’ve always preferred to workout at home. I did the Kayla Itsines’ programme at home last year and loved being able to do a workout in the morning and then quickly get on with my day, rather than schlep to the gym. Rest assured, this isn’t about gym shyness, but rather my own scheduling choice. If I can schedule it, I still love doing a spin class at Psycle or Another Space for the community and camaraderie.
And I digress. The first few days of my yoga challenge were tricky, as I realised how tight my calves, hamstrings and upper back were. In the downward facing dog pose, my feet were virtually in 45 degree angles. I then made it a goal to not only finish the 30 days, but also get my heels further to the ground in downward facing dog and start to build towards doing a proper crow pose.
I also decided to create a bit of a ritual in my yoga practice. I light a lovely candle, get a big glass of water and set my intention of making my practice a moment of self-care.
I found something addictive in doing yoga everyday. Perhaps it was was the ritual, perhaps it was knowing that I was building towards something. I don’t usually exercise every day, but managed to do yoga every day during the 30 day challenge, bar two. Towards the end of the challenge, I started to crave my daily yoga ritual. I really noticed it if I missed out my morning yoga session and would try to do something after J’s bedtime.
So how did I feel at the end of the 30 day challenge? The physical, emotional and spiritual benefits are undeniable. Physically, I am more flexible and toned. Emotionally, I am calmer, more centred & focused and my anxiety has been kept at bay. Spiritually, I am more open and truly grateful to have had this opportunity.
Do you practice yoga or any other bodywork, such as pilates? What are the benefits for you?
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