I started having a regular yoga practice when I was a stay-at-home mum with our daughters and the income from my husband’s job was under threat. He had been told that his contract was not going to be renewed and he had to find something else fast. I couldn’t contribute financially, and my stress levels went through the roof.
By that point, I had been going to a weekly yoga class for 3 years but having a home yoga practice had never crossed my mind.
And there, in that moment of complete stress and anxiety, of feeling powerless and not knowing what tomorrow had in store for us, I reached for my yoga mat.
Actually, I didn’t even own a yoga mat at the time.
I just practiced on the bedroom floor.
So what made me do it?
My weekly class had been my way of staying sane while I was still juggling work and being a mum (I had only stopped working 4 months before that), and at that point I felt that if I didn’t do something, I would fall back into the dark world of anxiety at a time when my family needed me.
I had to find a way to cope.
And yoga was that way.
I only remembered a few sequences, so I reached out to those.
I would get up before my husband and my daughters, go in the spare bedroom and start moving.
Sun salutations pretty much every day, the tree pose, some cat and tigers.
And those moments doing my yoga were my lifeline.
They were giving me the emotional strength to go through the day, to support my husband, to play with my daughters.
All of that happened 7 years ago and my daily practice is still with me.
Thankfully, I don’t have the dire need of it that I had at the time but it still supports me in so many ways both emotionally and spiritually.
So what are those amazing benefits of a regular practice:
Reduced anxiety and stress
That’s the very reason why I started!
Yoga has been proven to be incredibly effective to help manage stress and alleviate anxiety. Several researches have proven the effectiveness of yoga for stress and anxiety and yoga is recommended more and more by GPs to support a mental health treatment.
Stress and anxiety can be triggered daily and this is where a regular yoga practice comes into play.
Just a few minutes of yoga helps to balance your nervous system and makes you less reactive to stress. These effects are also cumulative. The more you practice yoga, the better you will be able to handle stressful situations.
Keeping people awake for days on end used to be a method of torture. And no wonder!
You just have to remember how you felt after a night or two of broken sleep to realise how much sleep is crucial to your wellbeing.
As soon as we are tired, we are more prone to get angry, anxious, agitated. We may also have craving for sugary foods as we need to find the extra energy somewhere.
By balancing the nervous system, yoga helps you to sleep better. Yoga makes it easier to fall asleep. You are also more likely to sleep more soundly.
My clients say it to me every week. The best night sleep they have all week is always on the day of their yoga class.
So why wouldn’t you want to try and do that every day?
In order to sleep well, you need to have been physically active during the day and your mind needs to be in a relaxed enough state that you can drift into sleep without having thoughts racing around your mind about things that you should have done differently (that used to be a favourite of mine just as my head touched the pillow!).
By practising yoga, you do both at the same time. Not only do you move your body, but you move it in such a way that it helps calm your mind.
All you need after that is to curl up in bed!
Improved concentration and memory
Have you had those days when you can’t focus on anything for love or money?
It is frustrating.
It makes decision making a nightmare and makes everything that you try and do take much longer than it should.
Well, it might not be an obvious benefit of yoga, but it has been proven to improve concentration.
Researches have shown that yoga affects the neural pathways in the brain in such a way that it improves your ability to concentrate and also your memory.
And it doesn’t even take that long. Just eight weeks of regular yoga practice is enough to notice a marked improvement in both concentration and memory.
Better immune system
One thing I noticed when I started doing yoga regularly, is that I seemed to catch a lot less colds and coughs.
And I am not an isolated case.
This benefit is linked to yoga’s efficiency at reducing stress.
Stress has a negative impact on our immune system. When we get stressed, stress hormones are released in our body, which suppress our immune system and makes us more vulnerable to catching whatever viruses might be around.
By lowering the level of stress hormones in the body, yoga helps us keep a strong immune system.
When you start practising yoga regularly, you systematically release stress from your body and prevents it from affecting your immune system negatively.
I remember a conversation with a colleague a few years ago when I was telling her that I was waking up around 5.30 to do my yoga before getting the girls up and ready for school.
As the conversation went on, I realised that I actually had more energy in my late 30s with 2 kids, than I did when I was 20 something with nothing much to do but go to work.
Being the research freak that I am, I looked into that and it turns out that I can thank my regular yoga practice for my increased energy.
It has been proven that just 25 minutes of yoga can improve energy levels “significantly”.
That is due to several factors: release of endorphins, increased blood flow to the brain, and less energy being spent on worrying and ruminating.
So, a better immune system coupled with increased memory and concentration, more energy, less stress AND sleeping better!
All of that from 20-25 minutes of yoga a day.
And if you think that you can’t find the time, I invite you to join me next week on the 26-30th April for the 5 days Body & Mind Reset.
Every morning, you will receive a 15 minutes yoga practice that will bring you all of these amazing benefits and get you started in integrating yoga in your daily life.
Oh, and it’s completely FREE!
Click on the link to find out more and book your space.