5 Things I Learned from Practicing Yoga Everyday, for 10 Days
Before having a child, I was able to practice yoga everyday and for at least an hour or more. Even when I was carrying my son, I still made sure to practice daily. Since having my son it has been super hard to get a moment alone, period. When he was a new born we went to a weekly mom and baby yoga class, which helped. Now he's too big for that. I have been able to fit a yoga class in once a week and to get between 15-30 minutes of practice in at home most days. All this has been hard to schedule though. However, instead of making myself feel bad for not practicing daily, I've started making sure to breathe or meditate for a few minutes a day and sometimes count my teaching as part of my practice. The way I see it, I am still focusing my mind, my breath and feeling many of the poses in my body.
A few months ago, I thought, hey, I can get out of the house to run or workout usually for at least 30 minutes every day. Why can't I do this with yoga? Even if it's only for 10 minutes. So, I started practicing yoga everyday for 10 days, first thing in the morning or right after I ran or worked out. It had to happen consistently. I've heard that doing something ten times consistently helps to make it a habit.
Here's what I learned from doing yoga everyday for ten days
- It doesn't take ten days: I am an avid runner, so am very dedicated (maybe even a bit addicted-in a good way) to cardio and to me, yoga is not a cardio workout. I thought it would take a while to get into the habit, mostly because I haven't been in the habit but after six consecutive days, I found it became almost automatic. If I didn't get up and practice, at some point in the day I noticed. I found myself sneaking in extra time throughout the day, too.
- Mood improvement: It seems cliche but in the ten day period and now after, my mood is better on a whole. When I feel negativity starting to creep in, I do a few poses or get my feet up in an inversion or arm balance. Inversions do two things, one it reverses the blood and fluid flow throughout the body and puts less stress on the venus return (blood flow back to the heart). It has a calming effect. Two, the act of getting upside down also has an energizing effect. It allows a for an awareness and focus. Weird I know but if I'm tired and do a handstand, for a few breaths, when I come out of it, I have a boost of energy.
- Flexibility (in more ways than one): First off, it's a given that practicing yoga increases flexibility. A lot of people come to yoga because they believe it will help with flexibility or stretch the muscles after a workout. This is so true but for me, it gave my muscles just enough stretch and warmth to boost my overall run or workout. Making an effort to practice yoga every morning for ten days also helped with flexibility in everyday life situations. I found that if I couldn't practice first thing in the morning, it was annoying or disappointing however, finding another time to practice worked too. So, I had to allow myself to be more flexible in order to stay true to my purpose.
- I am powerful: In making this commitment to myself, I had to practice everyday even when I didn't think I could or had the time. I learned that only I have the power to get to my mat. On days when I feel weak and tired, practicing yoga for just ten minutes helps to bring my confidence and strength back.
- Whole body strength: Honestly, I already knew this aspect. When I went through my teacher training, I was practicing for two or more hours a day. I got really strong and toned quickly. Then, I got pregnant and wasn't as concerned with the strength part. Getting back into practicing daily has made huge improvements in my over all strength and I feel stronger than I was before having a child.
The longer I practice yoga the more realize it's something everyone should be able to do, if they wish. There are so many benefits (see the yoga journal article I sited below for more benefits). Getting into the habit can take time and can be difficult but once the habit is set, it makes all the difference.