“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.”— The Bhagavad Gita
Have you ever thought about whether or not you should do yoga every day? Many people feel there is benefit to #yogaeverydamnday, but what exactly ARE those benefits?
I know it’s been a LONG time since I last posted…more than two years, in fact. I was dealing with some pretty major health and personal issues, and I needed to take a break from this site to focus on getting through those things. And while I am no scientific expert, what I CAN tell you is that starting in January 2021, I committed to doing yoga each and every day. Prior to this, I was practicing 1-3 times per week.
But at the end of 2020, I decided to join Yoga With Adriene in her “BREATH – A 30 Day Yoga Journey”, which began on January 1, 2021. I’ve always loved Adriene’s videos, and I thought that committing to this challenge might just be the kick in the pants I needed to get into a daily yoga practice. Throughout my 30 day journey with Adriene, I rediscovered some things, not only about yoga but about myself, that had been missing for WAY too long.
For the most part, I have continued doing yoga daily since that 30 day journey with Adriene completed. There have been days when I skipped out on it, thinking it would be no big deal. But…my body, my mind and my spirit could tell. And they didn’t like it when I missed a practice.
Maybe you already have a daily yoga practice, and you’ve already noticed a plethora of benefits for yourself. But if you don’t yet have a regular yoga practice, then I urge you to consider starting one…you may be surprised at all the ways doing so will improve your life.
What I learned through my own experience is that, if you do yoga every single day, then….
- Your immune system may improve. I am the type of person who catches EVERYthing going around. If I’m around anyone who has anything contagious, I usually end up with it. However, since the fall of 2019, I’ve been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Psoriatic Arthritis and Non Radiographic Axial Spondyloarthritis (now THAT is a mouthful, right?!). The last two conditions are being treated with medications that are immunosuppressants, so I was definitely worried about getting sick…especially getting COVID-19. However, I’ve been pretty damn lucky on that front. My daughter was diagnosed with COVID-19 in the summer and I was terrified I was going to get it, but I totally didn’t. And I really have been lucky with colds…I think I may have had one or two colds since 2020. Yoga may very well be the reason why.
All the bending, twisting, stretching and inverting involved in most yoga practices stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you rest and digest. This means that your sympathetic nervous system (which is responsible for your fight or flight response) is not being affected as much…it is the sympathetic nervous system that causes the stress response and inflammation, which lowers your immune system.
- Your ability to focus may improve. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time staying focused, especially when I have so many things going on. Between work, family, dealing with an illness of my own, becoming a caregiver for a family member, fostering rescue dogs and taking care of my own dogs….well, just typing out all those things made me feel the struggle. Yoga, however, did wonders in helping me complete my tasks and get re-centered when I needed it.
Practicing yoga daily, no matter which style(s) you incorporate into your life, requires you to dedicate time for self-development and devotion. Doing this can lead you to a higher level of focus and dedication in other areas of your life. For me, the type of yoga I do may vary each day…sometimes, all I have the energy for is breath work and meditation. What’s important is that I’m choosing to do some sort of practice every single day.
- You will get stronger. Yoga is one of the best ways to strengthen your muscles that doesn’t involve high impact or jarring movements. In yoga, you use your body weight to help you strengthen your major muscle groups, and it takes a lot of strength to achieve certain yoga poses, so a dedicated practice can help you get there in a safe way.
My health issues are not allowing me to practice the more vigorous Ashtanga or power yoga styles right now, but the gentle vinyasa practice that I have is definitely helping me get some strength back that I lost.
- You will reduce anxiety. Since the spring of 2020, I’ve been a volunteer counselor with The Crisis Text Line, and many of the texters I talk with are dealing with some form of anxiety (i.e., social anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD). And I have dealt with panic attacks for years, but they became debilitating after a car accident I was involved in back in 2018.
Yoga helps combat anxiety by helping you to stay mindful in the present moment. And you do this by focusing on the link between your breath, thoughts and movement. Staying mindful keeps you from catastrophizing about the things that MIGHT happen (the things you can’t control), and it also helps to keep you from worrying over the would’ve/could’ve/should’ve mentality about past events that you can’t change.
- You may sleep better. For years, I have struggled with insomnia. At first, it was not being able to fall asleep, and then it turned into not being able to stay asleep. Poor sleep can increase the risk of a variety of health conditions…and I certainly don’t need anymore of those! Once I started my daily practice, I quickly noticed that I was able to fall asleep immediately on most nights. And for the most part, I now also STAY asleep.
In researching this, I found that yoga helps in restoring the body’s natural circadian rhythm. With better sleep, I’ve personally noticed I’m eating better…because I’m not a walking zombie anymore, I am not craving the sugary carbs or caffeine that I used to depend on to keep me awake.
- You may improve your posture. In my full-time job in IT, I sit at a desk most of the day, Monday through Friday. And that much sitting has caused some damage to my already compromised joints…particularly my neck, back and hips. If your posture is poor, for whatever reason, you run the risk of increasing pain and inflammation in your body…and that is definitely not what you want. The strengthening and stretching provided by yoga can help undo damage caused by poor posture.
- You may reduce pain. The health conditions I suffer from cause me constant pain on the regular. But since beginning a daily practice, that pain has diminished. It’s not completely gone, but I notice that when I am practicing daily, I feel MUCH better. When I skip a few days, I pay for it.
Whether you are experiencing pain from an injury or a chronic condition, yoga can be a natural way to help manage it by helping your muscles, ligaments and tendons become stronger, more flexible and relaxed.
- You may be happier. When you move your body, endorphins are released into your bloodstream. These endorphins are natural chemicals that reduce your perception of pain and improve your mood. For me, just practicing yoga makes me feel good. Most of the time I practice at home, because I can’t always make it to a class that suits my schedule. However, I will say that when I am able to practice with a group of people, I feel even better. Something about the positive energy being shared in the room just makes me feel HAPPY!
Wow! As you can see, there are a ton of benefits in having a daily yoga practice. There are many more that I didn’t list, but I think you get the idea, and I hope that maybe the above has inspired you to commit to a daily practice of your own.
I am committing to Yoga with Adriene’s newest challenge, which begins on January 1, 2022. It’s called “Move” and it’s a FREE 30 Day Yoga Journey that will help you better engage with life…because movement matters. Wanna do this challenge along with me? Click here to sign up.
Thank you for being here, and I am very much looking forward to building this community into something amazing!
Namaste and Have a Sparkling Day!