I’m proud to say that I’ve now been practicing yoga on a regular basis for just over six months. I started writing about my yoga practice this year because I noticed such a variety of benefits to the routine. I’ve greatly enjoyed using yoga as a fitness and wellness program, but also as a source for inspiration for writing and creating. While what I write about has expanded greatly in the past few months, I still like to come to back to my yogic-analysis every once in a while. On that note, here are five things that I’ve notice about practicing yoga in the half year that I’ve been doing so. I hope this information will encourage others to continue to practice regularly, while also providing some realistic insight on where to set your expectations when taking it up as a routine.
5. Back pain = gone! Anyone who works a desk job knows the woes of back pain. The vast majority of us suffer from it to varying degrees. I have found that yoga 2-3 times per week has virtually eliminated my back pain and stiffness. And when I went a week and-a-half without yoga it came right back. The fact that yoga prevents and eliminates discomfort in my back has been a great motivator to keep me going back over and over. I recommend anyone who has a history of back stiffness or pain to incorporate yoga into their wellness program.
4. Better sleep I notice a difference in my quality of sleep on days when I do do yoga vs days that I do not. Generally, after a yoga class I’ll fall asleep right away (especially after hot yoga) and I won’t wake up in the night. I’ll wake up when my alarm goes off feeling refreshed and ready for the day, with little to no desire to hit the snooze button. Sleeping well every night is vitally important, and far too many of us suffer from insomnia. Deep breathing, gentle stretching and strength and stability exercises have proven to be a great way for me to improve the quality of my slumber.
3. Easier to focus When I keep up a routine of regular yoga practice, I notice that task management inside and outside of the office becomes much easier for me. I’m generally calmer and less frantic feeling which makes it easy for me to organize my busy personal and professional life without getting too overwhelmed. Somehow yoga really does restore balance on and off the mat.
2. It’s an identity “Oh, you do yoga? How do you like it? I want to try it really badly!” I hear a lot of interest buzzing around yoga practice, especially from women. It seems that people who ‘do yoga’ get a sort label or identity to go with it. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, I just find it interesting that there seems to be a culture surrounding the activity. The interest surrounding the practice of yoga is what inspired me to start writing about it in the first place. Having said that, I’m proud to call myself a yogini and join the conversation about this unique and beneficial activity.
1. Progress is fast then slow By my fourth week of regular yoga practice, I was probably 100% better than when I had first started out. Since then however, progress has slowed down. Once I got over the initial hump of figuring out balancing, and improving my strength and flexibility, I noticed that my progress more or less plateaued. I’m sure I’ve improved since then, but the difference is simply not as noticeable. As with any activity, if you notice your progress slowing down, don’t let that discourage you. Practice may not make perfect, but it gets you as close to perfect as can be.
Overall, these last six months have been a tremendous learning curve for me. Yoga is a fitness routine I plan to maintain, as it really has benefited my body, mind and spirit. Once you find the right yoga studio, you can establish a routine and a wellness program to benefit you in as many ways possible. Whether or not yoga is your activity of choice, I encourage you to find a program that enriches all aspects of your life, and to stick with it for the long term.