It’s time to celebrate National Yoga Month!
The reasons we are inspired to come to our yoga mats are multiple. We celebrate the benefits we receive from our yoga practice each time we come to our mats–most of the time we leave the studio or our home practice feeling a little looser, a little more open, and perhaps a little less caught up in the chaos of our day-to-day lives.
National Yoga Month is a reminder of how yoga supports a healthy lifestyle.
In 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services designated September National Yoga Month in the service of supporting a growing national appreciation of health and wellness.
With respect to how we benefit from a yoga practice, here are 10 universal but sometimes overlooked benefits of yoga:
- Stress Management
I am guilty of making excuses of why I’m too busy to go to yoga, and I’m sure you’ve done the same at least once. But when we start skipping classes because of work and life stresses, that’s the time when we can most benefit from coming to our yoga mats. Yoga teaches us to be present in our bodies and minds and changes the way we relate to stress. The practice helps to regulate the stress hormones that our bodies release.
- Increased Flexibility
Whether we can touch our toes or are too stiff to do so, yoga helps us mindfully lengthen out tight muscles so we can start to build a greater sense of wellness in our daily movements.
- Better Sleep
A recent Harvard study found that a regular yoga practice can be an antidote for chronic insomnia. The time we spend on our mats helps us balance our minds and regulate stress in an effort to rest the mind, which indirectly contributes to a more restful sleep.
During my work week, I’m guilty of “monkey mind”. My thoughts race around from one subject to another. My awareness cycles between distraction, stress, relaxation, and worry. Before I know it, I’m getting so caught up in my thoughts and the negativity that surrounds them. Yoga teaches us to be aware of the thinking mind and acknowledge this compassionately while drifting back into the present moment. It comes down to building a sense of balance in awareness.
- Releasing Tension
Do you ever catch yourself clenching certain parts of your body without even knowing it until you feel the sweet relief after you release it? Yoga brings us back into our bodies in a way where we can acknowledge and explore where we hold tension.
The power of taking a pause and a deep breath to calm our nervous systems is sometimes overlooked. Yoga reminds us of the power of the breath to unite the connection of our brains to our bodies.
- Blood Circulation
After we’ve been sitting at a desk all day, we can feel lethargic from the lack of movement and the only thing that sounds compelling is a nap. But going to yoga will actually get your blood moving and help you re-energize!
If you’ve been traveling a lot or moving, this can be quite un-grounding. You can make your yoga mat a grounding place to get back in your body.
Whether or not you consider yourself spiritual, yoga introduces new ideas, ways of being, and ways of relating to the world which may spark an interest in exploring spirituality.
- Pain Relief
When we are recovering from injury or illness, sometimes yoga may be the only activity we can do pain-free. It’s a gentle practice to help restore the body and rehabilitate from injury in a mindful and conscious way that respects our limitations.
It does not need to be a month in celebration of yoga for us to recall the benefits of of why we come to our mats, but it’s certainly a good reminder that if we so choose, this can be a practice for life!