My yoga practice is something I have come to cherish in the six years since I started. When life gets hectic and crazy for any reason, I know that I can always find peace on my mat. The first time I went to a hot yoga class, after learning how to do yoga in high school gym class, I felt almost this euphoric tingling in my mind. The only way I can describe it is magical! I have been hooked ever since, here are just a few reasons why.
1. I actually notice my breath.
I know this might sound silly, because obviously we breathe all day, every day. But I never notice my breath, or take deep breaths, until I’m on my yoga mat. Then my breath becomes very important, because it guides my movement. I’ve also learned the power of a few deep breaths for calming down in any sort of stressful situation, or when anxious thoughts plague me. Just breathe in slowly, hold it for awhile, and then exhale it all out. I especially love doing a lion’s breath, where you kind of roar as you exhale. It is such a great stress reliever.
2. It helps my mind, body, and soul.
I’ve never done an exercise that really heals my thoughts, has the ability to change my perspective, or just made me feel as zen as yoga. When I’m really worked up about anything, my go-to is usually a long run to work through those feelings. But I’ve found that yoga really does everything for me, whatever I need in that moment. I come out of my yoga practice feeling relaxed and clear headed, and I’m reminded of the importance of kindness. It feeds my soul, makes my body feel sore and loved, and gives my mind the clarity I’m always looking for.
3. The movement is good for me.
If you know anything about chakras, then you understand why yoga is so good for you. The different poses and sequences in the yoga practice are meant to help your chi to flow. Chi can be described as a life force, or energy, that runs through seven different areas of your body, called chakras. The chakras are where certain energy can get stuck (to put it simply) and so the yoga poses help to clear any blocks in your chakras. If there is a specific thing in your life that feels blocked, researching which chakra it represents and then doing corresponding yoga poses to open it up can help a lot.
4. It’s a great workout.
Yoga is a really great workout, and I will defend that until the day I die. I mean just look at any yoga teacher, they’re all so healthy and happy in their bodies. So if anyone ever says yoga isn’t a real workout, challenge them to go to a heated vinyasa class and then see what they say. I love a good vinyasa flow class, but if I’m really in the mood for something hard then I’ll choose a yoga sculpt class (with weights).
5. It makes me more flexible.
I LOVE how flexible I become when I practice yoga regularly. I can touch my toes and the floor with no problem. Being flexible and doing yoga also makes me stronger for the other physical activities I like to do, like skiing and running. Aside from being flexible, it makes me stronger. Yoga is great for a full body exercise and you will revel in how flexible you become!
6. I’m reminded of how strong my body is.
Not only how strong, but how grateful I am for my body. As women we tend to be critical of ourselves, and sometimes our body is our worst enemy if we’re constantly being assaulted by harsh thoughts or judgements from others. When I’m on my yoga mat, I feel so grateful for what my body can do. Achieving a new pose or stretching to my limit, I’m reminded how beautiful my body is. How lucky I am to be healthy on this earth.
7. It gives me space to just be present.
One of my favorite yoga teachers used to say that our souls were at home on our yoga mat. I loved that sentiment because it’s truly a place where I can just be myself. No judgements, no harsh thoughts, no outside critics. During my yoga practice I feel suspended in time, the outside world doesn’t exist. It’s the one space in my day where I am fully present, not fretting over the past or the future at all.
8. It makes me a better person.
That car that cut me off in the parking lot on the way in? The person who didn’t hold the door for me? None of it matters once I’ve finished my yoga practice. I’m so much more patient with others after I’ve done my yoga for the day. My mind and body are taken care of, and I can complete the day in a much happier mood.
9. I recognize the light in others.
Almost every yoga class, the teacher ends with a phrase like “the light in me honors the light in you” or “the teacher in me bows to the teacher in you.” It is a great reminder at the end of the yoga practice that we are all beautiful human beings who should be treated with respect. We each have light and goodness within us, and I love this reminder of it. It makes me strive to be a kinder, better person.
10. I leave feeling totally zen.
And what more could I want from my yoga practice, than to leave feeling I achieved a great level of inner peace? After sweating out all my toxins and spending time being totally present, I do feel just a great sense of peace. Others always notice it too! I glow when I’ve done my yoga practice and it feels really good.
What do you love the most about your yoga practice? Send this to your favorite yogis!
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Maggie is the blogger behind The Artful Everyday, a travel and lifestyle blog dedicated to living intentionally and finding beauty in the ordinary. She loves the idea that we get to escape our normal lives when we travel, and that it allows us to be more open to the world and its cultures. Maggie lived in Florence while studying abroad, then was an au pair in Rome last fall. She is very passionate about traveling in Europe, especially Italy, and living abroad. Maggie studied Interior Design at the University of Minnesota, but is currently pursuing a career in writing.