Before you start reading this post we encourage you to first take a big breath in, and a big breath out. One more time. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
It’s safe to say that we could all use a moment to catch our breath after the last year and a half. We’ve experienced a collective shift in the way we interact, work, and show up in our everyday lives, and it can all feel overwhelming, to say the least. When things get challenging, we know first hand that staying busy and plugged in is an easy way to outrun the stressful feelings that follow and avoid really digging into those emotions. Plus, in a culture where we’re all about speed and efficiency, going slowly can leave us feeling like we’re doing something wrong. But this month, we want to challenge you to check in and find some guilt-free stillness.
September is Yoga Month, and we’re taking it as an opportunity to reconnect with ourselves through the simplicity of yoga. At its core, yoga is the practice of bringing your mind and body into alignment, which sounds pretty peaceful to us. The gentle weaving together of breath, meditation, and movement creates a space for you just to be and explore the stillness. Accessible to anyone and everyone, yoga has some amazing benefits for your body and mind and is one of the easiest forms of exercise to jump into — there really isn’t a wrong way to do it.
Here are our our top five reasons why you should join us in a downward dog and meet yourself on the mat this month.
1. Your body and mind will thank you.
Yoga has the almost magical ability to relax your body and ease stress. One of our favourite physical benefits you’ll experience after practicing is increased flexibility. While touching your toes might seem literally out of reach, over time, yoga will help loosen your muscles and the connective tissue around your joints. Not only will this help you reach your toes one day, but it will also help keep your body in alignment. You also may notice improved muscle strength, balance, and posture, just to name a few.
Then there are the mental benefits. Presence is key when you’re practicing. You’ll often hear teachers encourage you to leave your day and to-dos at the door and really drop into the present moment. When you’re forced to turn off that constant stream of thought and add in mindful breathing and movement, it does wonders for your nervous system. Your body actually shifts from the sympathetic nervous system, which is your flight-or-fight response (aka not relaxed), to the parasympathetic nervous system, which is calm and restorative.
While yoga isn’t going to eliminate stress entirely from your life (that is a reality of being human) through increasing mindfulness, your practice can help you evolve the way you react and deal with stress for the better.
2. It can calm you down or boost your energy.
While yoga is often portrayed as bringing you into a zen state, it’s important to remember it can also help boost your energy levels. Sleepy early mornings when you can’t keep your eyes open or mid-day slumps at work when your brain feels fried are perfect moments for yoga. Certain yoga poses, like backbends, can help you feel more awake and energized. Backbends, in particular, help increase the flexibility in your spine, stretching your chest and boosting your energy.
If you could use a little more energy, check out this video that walks you through different ways to backbend.
3. It can always fit into your schedule.
While we love the energy of an in-person group class, between Covid restrictions, a busy schedule, and your monthly budget, it’s not always feasible to make it to the studio. Luckily, yoga can easily be slotted into your day wherever you’re, regardless of how busy you’re. Studio classes are usually an hour-long, but you can tailor your practice to fit your schedule. Whether it’s a half-hour in the morning or 10 minutes between meetings, it all counts.
4. It gives you the perfect excuse to get comfy.
We have two words for you — comfy clothes. Let us assure you the yoga mat is no place for jeans. When it comes to dressing for yoga practice you want to choose clothes that allow you a range of motion when you’re moving. Think breathable, flexible bottoms, a form-fitted top that won’t hang in your face when you’re bending over, and a cozy top layer like a sweater for after class.
5. It creates time to unplug and enjoy some you time.
According to a survey conducted in February 2021, nearly half of the people surveyed shared that on average, they spent five to six hours on their phone on a daily basis, not including work-related use. Yikes… clearly, we’re a bit addicted to the glow of our screens. Not to worry though, yoga gives you the perfect opportunity to put down your phone and check-in with yourself instead of social media. We recommend putting your phone on silent or leaving it in another room entirely when you’re practicing, so you’re not tempted to pick it up.
We’re also giving bonus points if you take your yoga practice outside into nature for an extra boost of endorphins. Mindfully breathing in the fresh air does your body a world of good. Practicing in a natural environment can actually help heightened your awareness, replenish your energy levels and boost the benefits of mediation.