It has become a way of life to constantly run around with the feeling that we’re always playing catch up, leaving us with no time to do anything for ourselves. And, even when we do decide to do something just for us it usually sinks down to the bottom of our priority list. Days will go by until we actually get to time for ourselves and more often than not, with a cloud of guilt hovering over it.
When I heard this old Zen saying, something profound shifted for me and I understood downright the message of yoga practice and its assistance in our everyday life:
“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour”.
I hope this article will encourage you to find the time for the practice of yoga in your busy day.
- Yoga gives you space and time for “Me Time”
That hour that you’re going to spend on your yoga mat is an hour just for you! There are no kids, pets, boyfriends, girlfriends, no alarm clocks, no partner, boss, work colleagues, nobody seeking your attention. That is your time and your time only. To spend it on you. To pay attention only to you.
Time spent on your yoga mat is likely to bring up and release ongoing dilemmas and personal issues that were yearning for a quiet moment to reveal themselves. Sometimes it’s all too easy to stay stuck in a rut because we don’t take time to think of the best use of our time and energy.
Time spent with yourself gives you an opportunity to understand, let go, to release and relax, as it is necessary to occasionally distance ourselves from routine, so as to maintain healthy relationships with both people and material things.
- Yoga keeps you flexible and mobile
Our sedentary way of modern life is making us less mobile. Desk-tight shoulders, sore neck, back pains, dodgy hamstrings or an old running injury to the knee are all the result of long hours spending in a chair at our work desk. We are not moving our joints and stretching our muscles as is necessary to keep them both supple and mobile. If our joints don’t work properly, they start pulling muscles and bones surrounding them distorting our body alignment.
Most importantly, regular movement of the joints prevents joint fluid drying up. Depriving joints of the constant flow of fluid will leave them without healthy nutrition and oxygen. Joints will, as a result, wear and tear sooner, thinning the cartilage tissue and eventually that causes such pain that we might need to have a joint replacement operation in the end.
Kevin Trueau was spot on when he said; “Most people have no idea how good their body is designed to feel.” Incorporating an hour of a good yoga practice into your busy schedule is essential to keep your joints and muscles in good shape!
- Yoga reduces stress
A recent study looking into positive thinking stated that dreaming about the future calms you down, as it measurably reducing systolic (pressure on your arteries) blood pressure.
Yoga practice provides nurturing space and quiet time to stop for a moment, relax and reflect upon your daily routine and priorities. Stress is a part of our human nature, but we come to yoga to balance it out. Meditation is a tool we use for that.
When we have a healthy body, full breath and calm mind, anxiety fails to strike. Mediation as well as various yoga breathing techniques known as Pranayama, and also settling into physical stillness as in final relaxation at the end of yoga practice known as Sahavasana, are reinforcing, calming properties necessary for a good sound sleep and rest. This will prepare us to cope better with stressful moments when they arise.
Plus you’ll be more productive at work, more enjoyable company to be around, a better partner and more forbearing with your kids.
- Yoga keeps you in check with reality
Yoga takes you into the present moment, the only place where life exists. Balancing postures in yoga practice are perfect examples. When we’re doing a “Tree” posture, balancing on one leg with arms above our head, there is no way we could think about shopping lists, to-do-lists, what’s for lunch, or anything else, because we would lose our focus and the concentration that such a posture commands and inevitably lose the ground, come out of balance and fall. Balancing postures demand your undivided attention and as such bring you straight into present moment.
- Yoga practice takes care of various physiological systems in your body
In yoga practice we can immediately notice the effect on three of these physiological systems, namely the nervous, respiratory and digestive systems. Sitting long hours in a chair folded forward, ploughing through daily tasks takes its toll on our nervous system but also, squashes our stomach and digestive system and compresses our lungs affecting the respiratory system.
We use Pranayama, breathing exercise, and Asana, postures, to combat all three at the same time.
In Asana practice, by moving body through the space and folding ourselves in all sort of peculiar poses we massage our digestive system. There are certain postures that are particularly beneficial for containing and even reversing Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or an upset stomach.
Pranayama instantly soothes our nervous system and expands our lung capacity enabling more oxygen to enter into our body. Consequently, the more oxygen that flows to your brain the more clarity, focus, alertness and concentration it brings.
- Yoga builds up your determination
We often think of yoga as relaxing, but it takes strength of mind as well as muscle to hold body in asana (pose) for more than two seconds. Most of the yoga postures are challenging, regardless of our level of practice (there is always space to bend deeper), and they are designed to push you to your physical limits. However, in yoga practice we start from what is comfortable first, and slowly work and progress towards deeper levels. On that journey we are travelling from the comfortable and familiar towards the space of unknown and outside of our comfort zone.
- Yoga allows you to get in tune with the state of your body
Very closely related to the previous point is the fact that when you focus on what you’re doing in the present moment, being more attentive to your moving body, you start listening to it more carefully. When you have to start making choices you have to start listening carefully to what the body is telling you. Observing any response that the body and the mind refer back to us is precious, as we can react in time and investigate.
- It creates harmony between you and the world around you
Regular yoga practice centres you and keeps you balanced. What yoga can teach you is to let go of things that no longer serve you. Being present and being ok with it, no matter what the particular moment reveals. It gives you confidence and realisation that you can actually achieve more than you think but without aggravation, unnecessary struggle and stress. And just sometimes we need to be reminded of it!
“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured”. B.K.S. Iyengar