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30 benefits of a daily yoga practice

30 reasons to practice yoga daily

06 oct 2016 by Emma Newlyn

If you're seeking motivation to keep up your daily yoga practice, Emma gives you 30 reasons to get you back on your mat every day. 

Bring these benefits into action by trying our recommended classes that go with each point. You'll need an EkhartYoga membership to give them a go.. but becoming a member is easy! 

1Yoga makes you feel better - simple as that!

Pick a suitable class for your level and approach it with an open mind - you’ll feel different, more open, present and happier. If you don’t believe us, try it!

  • Try our 3-in-1, joy-themed class with three wonderful teachers, Anat Geiger, José de Groot and Esther Ekhart: It's a feel good class

2Yoga increases your flexibility

If you haven’t heard about yoga’s ability to increase flexibility, you might have been living under a rock for the past twenty years ;) To gain more flexibility, it is worth practicing yoga regularly and consistently in order to build muscle memory; take your time though, and be patient!

3Yoga improves your strength

Yoga isn’t just about stretching and bending, it also requires a surprising amount of strength. Physical strength is important in order to prevent injury, boost the immune system and metabolism and help make everyday tasks easier.

Yoga improves your strength

4Yoga boosts your immune system

Any form of movement is great for keeping the immune system healthy. With yoga’s twisting, inverting, back bending, and calming, the body is able to spend more time within the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and less with the sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight system, which causes stress and inflammation and dramatically lowers the immune system).

  • Try this sequence to balance the whole endocrine system and thus improve your body's defence mechanism. 

5Yoga helps you to focus

Because your mind will be quieter and clutter-free it's easier to direct the energy to where you want it to go. In yoga they say you develop one-pointedness concentration through practice. You train the mind to become aware and present. Research has shown that after a yoga class you are generally better able to focus your mental resources, process information more accurately and also learn, hold and update pieces of information more effectively. 

6Yoga changes your energy

If your morning routine starts with dragging yourself out of bed and gulping down a coffee, try ten rounds of Surya Namaskar or some Kapalabhati pranayama, and notice the energising effects it has on the nervous system. Conversely, if you need a change later on in the day, just a few minutes of asana practice can re-balance the nervous system, calm the mind and give you a different perspective.

Yoga changes your energy

7Yoga boosts your metabolism

A morning yoga practice will help to get the blood, breath and muscles moving before breakfast, therefore allowing the nutrients from your food to be better absorbed. A strong practice can help build muscle, dramatically boost metabolism, and breathing fully and deeply increases circulation, also helping the metabolism to stay ticking along nicely.

  • A little bit of pranayama, a little upper body strength, of course, some opening work as well. Start the day with a clean slate with this class.

8Yoga reduces anxiety

Shallow breathing, poor posture and tense muscles are both results and causes of anxiety. If you’ve been stuck in an anxiety cycle for a long period of time, it’s likely that your body has almost learned to protect itself by remaining tense, physically closed off and with very short, sharp breaths. The mind and body are so closely interlinked, that physically deepening the breath, improving posture and relaxing the muscles in a safe space can all help reduce anxiety.

Yoga helps to reduce anxiety

9Yoga helps you to be more mindful

Mindfulness is a buzz word at the moment and - with all the apps, downloads, classes and CDs - has become a billion dollar business. [1] Mindfulness, however, doesn’t have to mean meditating for long periods of time, and it doesn’t have to be something profound that's difficult to keep up. Being mindful just means paying a little more attention to each action you do, allowing you to be more present, aware and alive in each moment. Better to be mindful than mind-full…

10Yoga soothes your skin

The skin is one of the first places in the body to display signs of stress and nutrient deficiency. By practicing a combination of some of the more calming aspects of yoga, such as Pranayama and meditation, as well as an active yoga practice, the body and all its systems receive better circulation, and the reduced stress levels can even help reduce conditions like acne and eczema. [2]

11Yoga gives you some ‘Me-Time’

Having a little time for yourself is extremely important - particularly for those who spend their lives caring for others. Giving to others is a vital aspect of life, and helps us feel more connected to the world around us. However, in order to give, we have to be full first. As Gandhi (and Jimi Hendrix) said “If you want to change the world, change yourself first”.

  • Need some time to reconnect with yourself? Try this You time meditation with Esther Teule.

12Hydrate Your Spine

Moving the spine in a safe, healthy way encourages synovial fluid to be released into the column of the spine. In the morning, the spine contains a little more of this fluid, but in the evening the spine is more compressed and ‘dehydrated’ (hence why we’re somewhat ‘shorter’ in the evenings!). Practicing spine-lengthening postures like Downward Facing Dog, as well as inversions, can help to bring some moisture and life back to our all-important spine.

13Yoga boosts brain power

Moving in a way that is different to our daily patterns helps the brain work harder and can help keep the brain healthy. Twisting asanas, and anything which involves crossing limbs over the body (a little like the cross-crawl practice where you alternatively extend opposite arm and leg from a table top position) are fantastic for balancing the brain hemispheres. To bring things into balance daily, practice Nadi Shodhana, the ‘channel cleansing’ breath, which helps to balance the brain and calm the mind.

14No space? No worries!

Unlike many other physical activities, a yoga asana practice only needs space for your body. Aeroplanes, dorm rooms, offices and even jail cells, yoga can be practiced pretty much everywhere.

Inspired already? Follow our programme 30 Mornings with Yoga!

30-mornings-of-yoga programme picture

15Yoga helps you to breathe better

The emphasis on breathing in yoga is something beginners often struggle with, but over time moving with the breath becomes second nature. Just the ability to breathe more fully and deeply can have a very profound impact on overall health, and is worth practicing every day. You might not have the postures with you for your whole life, but you have your breath in every moment.

16Yoga helps you to stand up taller

Like much of the population, it’s likely you spend some part of the day hunched over a desk, screen phone or steering wheel. This slouched posture emphasises the kyphotic curve of the thoracic spine, and in turn collapses the chest, puts pressure on the lungs, heart and lower back, and is a sure way to bring on a bad mood. Simply standing up a little taller and opening the chest can have instant positive effects on mood and overall wellbeing.

17Yoga helps you beat the blues

Movement is one of the best ways to bring about a good mood, and yoga is an especially effective medicine when it comes to battling the blues. Yoga taps into the nervous system, helping to release hormones that improve the mood. Focusing on something positive each time we practice yoga is also an effective way to imprint that positivity into the mind, so the more you practice, the more you’re likely to notice yourself smiling…

Yoga helps you beat the blues

18Yoga improves your balance (in body and mind)

Balancing yoga postures help the brain to fire neurons that help with muscle memory and spatial awareness, and using the feet regularly in a daily yoga practice can strengthen the muscles of the foot, of which there are over 100!

19Yoga helps to clear the toxins

While it’s controversial as to whether twisting yoga asanas actually ‘detox’ the body, it’s fair to say that a yoga practice definitely helps to clear toxins from the body. Getting things moving inside and outside helps shift any lurking toxins and rids the body of them quicker. Being aware and mindful of your thoughts too, can help to ‘detox’ the mind of any ‘toxic’ thoughts….

20Yoga frees your feet!

Being barefoot is more important than we might expect. Many shoes are designed more for the way they look than the way they feel, and you may be surprised to know that your favourite shoes could actually be the cause of your aches and pains. Our feet are the foundation of the body, so giving them time to breathe, to move freely and to articulate in a way that allows the arches, joints and bones of the feet to move naturally can help the alignment of the body improve. It’ll also save you washing your socks so often ;)

  • Try this short Foot Saver class with Sandra Carson.

21Yoga has anti-inflammatory 'properties'

Decreased stress levels, better blood and oxygen circulation, and an increase in ‘happy hormone’ neurotransmitters all help to decrease inflammation. Calming Pranayama practices, in which the length of the out-breath is increased, can also be a way to powerfully reduce inflammation.

22Yoga helps give meaning to your day

We’ve all heard the song It Ain’t What You Do, It’s The Way That You Do It, and while the song might be catchy, the deeper meaning is very profound. Spending a little time in the morning setting an intention, focus or Sankalpa for the day, helps us come back to that intention each time we need to make a decision. Setting an intention can also help us to be more aware of our actions, and can give the day much more meaning.

23Yoga helps you to express gratitude

Traditionally, yogis would rise with the sun and perform Surya Namaskar, (Sun Salutations) as a way to greet the new day and pay homage to the sun, the giver of warmth, light and life. 

  • In this short and sweet practice learn the mantras for each of the 12 movements in a Sun Salutation with Jennilee Toner - Gratitude for the sun.

24Yoga teaches you to know yourself 

Unlike group sports activities, yoga is a very internal and personal practice. Even though you might have practiced in a class with lots of other people, the focus is still on what is happening inside you. ‘Pratyahara’ is one of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, and it refers to turning one’s senses and awareness inward in order to discover more about the person’s own body and mind. We have to live with this body and this mind for a whole lifetime, so it’s worth taking time to get to know it, and even make friends with it.

25Yoga regulates your body clock

Naturally, humans would rise with the sun and sleep when it’s dark. Since the invention of electricity and the light bulb however, we’ve been able to hack night time, which means getting up when the sun rises doesn’t always sound like the most welcome way to start the day. Practice getting up a little earlier however, and you’re likely to start noticing your body clock comes back into balance, and an improvement in your sleep. [3] Ayurveda – the ancient ‘sister science’ of yoga - tells us that the hours between 10pm and 2am are the body’s natural time of rejuvenation, that the best way to start the day is to get up as close to sunrise as possible, and head outside ASAP for some natural sunlight. The hours between 6am and 8am are best for ‘spiritual practice and exercise, like asana and walking’.

  • Vata imbalances can leave you restless, anxious, fearful and unable to sleep well. Try this sequence to restore balance.

26Increase compassion

The Metta Bhavana (Loving Kindness) meditation is intended to increase compassion and kindness towards others and ourselves. Humans are born to be compassionate and to feel emotions, yet the modern world often leaves us feeling more disconnected than ever. All our actions and even thoughts have impact on the world around us, and if the saying Love Makes The World Go Round is true, then practicing feeling love and kindness for others will make more difference than you might expect.

27Yoga helps you to become more body aware

"Listen to your body" is something you’re likely to have heard most yoga teachers say, but what does it mean? Any ‘good’ yoga practice encourages feeling instead of forcing, gradual progress instead of instant gain, and a way of moving that is helpful instead of harmful. A study from the department of Psychology at Berkley, California, showed that yoga practitioners have more body awareness, responsiveness to bodily sensations, and even body satisfaction than those who do not practice yoga.

  • In this class the focus is on listening to your own body, so you can learn to regulate your effort - Listen and regulate with Sandra Carson.

28Yoga helps you to accept whatever life brings to your table

Yoga teaches us that everything changes. Both the positive but also the painful things in life come and go. Knowing this and understanding this on a deeper level makes it easier to accept and stay present and positive, also through the hard times. 

  • Try this energizing and grounding practice and learn some tools to accept, flow and surrender to change: Transform and grow with Irina Verwer. 

29Yoga gives you a natural wind-down

Instead of watching a movie or checking Facebook for the 100th time, try practicing some restorative yoga. This type of practice is a very powerful way to calm the nervous system, thus improving sleep quality, helping the digestive system to do its job overnight, therefore giving you the energy you need to get up early the next morning to salute the sun :)

30Yoga is a life-long lesson

The beautiful thing about yoga is that it can be adapted to suit anyone. Whether you’re a baby or a baby-boomer, a grumpy teenager or a great-grandma, you can practice yoga. The task is often in finding the type of practice that suits you and listening to your body. 

[1] http://fortune.com/2016/03/12/meditation-mindfulness-apps/
[2] http://www.peacefuldumpling.com/yoga-for-acne-poses-for-clear-skin
[3] http://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/stories/how-to-transform-your-sleep-with-the-sun

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