Recently, I participated in an (unscientific) survey which asked people what time of the day they worked out. Over 60% of participants responded that their preferred work-out time was in the morning. I practice yoga in the am as well and find that it puts me in a much better mood for the rest of the day. I feel like I have accomplished something before most people wake up. I know that our work and family schedules have a huge impact on the time we have available to spend on practicing a healthy habit. Whether you prefer working out in the morning or the evening, there are clear benefits from being consistent in your yoga practice. Here are five ways how you can benefit from a daily yoga practice:
- Focus on breath – One of the biggest benefits to me is that as soon as I step on the mat I notice my breath. I realize if I rush through the poses and need to slow down. This focus on my breath makes me more aware and I carry this awareness with me through the entire day. It’s a daily reminder helping me stay mindful and allowing me to stay level headed as I go through the day.
- Quiet your mind – Quieting your mind goes hand in hand with focusing on your breath. But I also find that some poses are great at aligning your body, breath and your mind. I find that when I tend to me distracted I like to get into balancing poses, Tree Pose or Warrior III are the perfect poses to get you focused and quiet the mind long enough to let go of whatever was capturing you.
- Getting flexible – Most of us have a sedentary work, so our hip flexors tend to build tension. The iliacusand the psoas, two muscles surrounding our hip area, tend to “shrink” due to prolonged sitting. Yoga allows me to practice poses which counter act this and help lengthen my muscles. This reduces any back or hip pain, makes my body more flexible. Flexibility is important, because it increases your range of motion and reduces the likelihood of injury.
- Gaining strength – Daily practice helps you gain muscle. The beauty of yoga is that there are so many different poses. Twists, balancing, strength, you are engaging your entire body. For example, I knew that my upper body was very weak. I had a hard time holding myself up in many poses and had to get out of the pose to catch my breath and relax the muscles. Through the practice of downward dogs, planks of any kind, I have managed to build up strength in my arms that I didn’t have before.
- Getting fit – Getting fit is one of the most clear-cut benefits of the physical practice of yoga. You will notice that your stamina increases, you are getting stronger and you are making better food decisions through the day.
Once I started practicing yoga every morning I have begun to see a shift in how I approach the day. The daily practice allows me to start the day with purity. I see each morning as a new start, new opportunity and a new energy. I try to no longer log with me the issues that troubled me the night before. Every day is an opportunity to start anew, not taking the baggage from previous day and begin to see things from a new perspective.
Do you prefer a morning or evening work out? If you practice yoga, what benefits or changes have you noticed?