Yoga is an ancient practice that has evolved through time to become one of the most well-known forms of self-care. In more recent times, there have been scientific studies into the benefits of yoga solidifying that it is a useful daily practice for the mind and the body.
- What is yoga?
- Is meditation yoga?
- What styles of yoga are there?
- 20 Daily Yoga Benefits
What Is Yoga?
If you’re thinking about the benefits of daily yoga and how to incorporate them into your life, then it is worth taking some time to dive into yoga itself and what it involves.
Yoga has a vast and rich history. It is only in recent times that yoga has been associated with the physical practices we know today.
Ancient yoga practices were more concerned with mortifying the body and not with taking care of it as part of the spiritual and transformational journey. It is only since medieval times that the body has become a part of the practice.
Yoga today is a spiritual and physical practice that is practiced by some 300 million people worldwide (according to yogaearth.com). Many of these people have a regular or daily practice.
Yoga classes are a relatively new phenomenon and often take place in a studio or gym. Classes tend to be around 60 minutes long and are led by a qualified yoga instructor.
Postures can be performed lying down, seated, and standing up and some styles link the postures together. Classes come in different styles (more on that later) and levels of exertion.For many, there is a spiritual element to go which makes it different to other modalities such as Pilates or exercise. Many classes will incorporate elements of mindfulness and yogic philosophy as a complement to the yoga postures and movements.
The benefits of daily yoga are attributed to not just the physical but also to the mental aspects of the practice.
Is meditation yoga?
Arguably yes! The ancient practices of yoga were predominantly meditation, and any mention of the body (as in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra) was purely for finding a comfortable seat for meditation.
When thinking about creating a daily yoga practice it may feel daunting but even adding in just 10 minutes of meditation can count. Meditation is a great practice to add into your regular schedule especially if your body is feeling particularly fatigued or if you are ill or injured.
What styles of yoga are there?
If you want to reap daily yoga benefits, then you’ll need a clear understanding of the different styles of yoga. This is so that you can choose one style to stick with or mix it up so that you don’t get bored in your daily yoga practice.
It is a great idea to have a balanced approach to yoga especially if you’re hitting the yoga studio schedule hard. You might want to balance more dynamic forms of yoga such as Ashtanga or Vinyasa, with more gentle forms, such as Restorative and Yin.
Let’s take a look at some of the more common styles.
Iyengar Yoga – This is an alignment-based approach to asana (yoga postures) was founded by yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar and is a hatha-style that holds postures for longer durations.
Ashtanga Yoga – This dynamic and physical yoga was founded by Pattabhi Jois and is a strict method practiced six days a week. It is a flowing approach to postures which has a fairly fast pace.
Vinyasa Yoga – This creative flow-based style is influenced by Ashtanga but is less rigorous and often incorporates other movement modalities.
Hatha Yoga – This is somewhat a blanket term for anything that doesn’t fit into the above categories. It usually consists of longer-held poses and is considered gentler than many forms of yoga.
Restorative Yoga – This gentle style of yoga pioneered by Judith Lasater is aimed at down-regulating the nervous system through support of the body. Gentle opening rather than stretching is supported through the use of lots of props. Poses are held from anywhere between three and 20 minutes.
Yin Yoga – Yin is a slow style of yoga that uses long passive holds to stretch and stress connective tissue.
There are lots of variations on these styles that are a great way to reap the benefits of daily yoga.
20 Daily Yoga Benefits
Let’s get to it. So, what are some of the daily benefits of yoga?
- Increased flexibility. Yoga is a great way to increase your flexibility, especially through a daily routine. The more you practice, the more your muscles adapt, lengthen, and learn to relax.
- Improved focus. Spending a period of time focusing on something like yoga can help us to develop our ability to focus in other areas of our lives. You are training the mind to be a little quieter, and this aids the ability to develop single-pointed awareness.
- Increased strength. More dynamic forms of yoga are a great way to build strength in the body. Yoga isn’t just about stretching! Strength is an important part of aging well.
- Develops present-moment awareness. Yoga is a great way to be in the present. Focusing on sensations and the breath helps us to develop our awareness.
- Yoga can help boost the immune system. Movement is good for the immune system, and rest is even better, so restorative styles of yoga are excellent at settling us into the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and out of the stress response.
- Reduced anxiety. Finding a safe environment to connect with your body and breath is a great way to target some of the symptoms of anxiety.
- Rebalance your energy. Warming and dynamic forms of yoga can be helpful to uplift our energy, while cooling and grounding practices such as yin styles can be helpful for down-regulation. Just a few minutes of asana can change your energy.
- Improved circulation. All types of movement are great for getting circulation moving and yoga is a great place to start.
- Being more mindful. Being mindful means staying present with what is. Being mindful in your yoga practice can also help you to be more mindful in your everyday life.
- Promotes self-care. Yoga is a place for you to develop practices of self-care. It is a place for you to take time out of your busy day and get some ‘me time’.
- Better breathing. Whether it’s a dedicated pranayama practice or just focus on the breath, yoga can help us to connect to our breath and breath in a more organic way. Good breathing can have an overall impact on our health.
- Better posture. Daily yoga can help us to become more aware of the nuances of posture. It can help us to recognize when we are slouching and when we need to move positions because we are uncomfortable.
- Beat the blues. Yoga can help us to focus on the positive; this mixed with movement, can be a useful tool in dealing with the symptoms of depression.
- Increased gratitude. A daily yoga practice can help you to find gratitude in the small things as well as the big ones. Just the fact that you have a body and are able to move may be the source of your gratitude which can filter into other areas of your life.
- Improved balance. Yoga has several balancing postures, all of which can help us to develop our balance as well as proprioception.
- Yoga helps you to get to know yourself. Yoga is an internal practice. It teaches us to notice our actions and responses. Even in yoga we get the chance to notice if we are fighting against ourselves or striving. The benefits of a daily yoga practice help you to get to know a bit more about who you are.
- Improved sleep. Creating a daily yoga practice can help build a healthy routine which as well as reduce stress and increase the amount of time we spend in the parasympathetic nervous system which can help us get to sleep and stay asleep.
- Increased compassion. The practice of yoga can help us develop compassion not only for others but for ourselves too.
- Develop body awareness. So many of us lack body awareness and yoga is a great way to develop body awareness as well as make friends with our bodies.
- Develop patience. Yoga is a lifelong practice that hopefully takes us through all stages of our lives. Yoga, meditation, pranayama are practices that we can continue to do through illness and injury if we are careful and patient.
If learning about daily yoga benefits has left you wanting to learn more about yoga benefits then why not check out Outdoor Yoga: Benefits, Tips, and Suggestions for how you can use your practice to return to nature.