I've been on a little bit of a fitness/health mission throughout lockdown and beyond. And last month as part of this I decided to see what would happen if I committed to doing 30 minutes of yoga everyday for a month.
I've always loved yoga and it's been recommended to me so many times, for both physical and mental health. Therefore it's worth saying I didn't go into this as a complete newbie. I've been practising yoga for a fair while, but not at an advanced level and probably not hugely consistently. So, doing 30 minutes of yoga consistently for a month was a new thing for me, and at times, a bit difficult! But let's crack on and I'll answer some of the common questions you might have about the benefits of yoga and maybe you'll want to give it a go too!
Did I become more flexible?
A common question with yoga is - is it going to make me more flexible? The simple answer to this is yes, it will. However, as with everything, it's not quite that simple. Yoga is great because you can really tailor it to what you want to get out of it. It is generally more breathing focused and lower impact with a particular focus on stretching. Therefore, doing any kind of yoga is likely to make you more flexible over time, especially if you are naturally tight in your hamstrings etc. You can go further than this and focus on routines that are geared more towards flexibility or even specific areas of the body, such as the hips, hamstrings or hip flexors.
I definitely found I become increasingly flexible throughout the month. I could not touch my toes easily at the beginning of the month and I could by the end. Also in my down dog pose, when I started this was actually quite a difficult pose for me, by the end it was a lot easier and I found myself able to relax more into the floor with the heels of my feet.
How does this benefit me? Well, if you are trying to get your splits for example, this is a great gentle start into flexibility. However, for something like that, you may need to do more intense stretching on specific areas to see an improvement quicker. For just general health improving your flexibility is really good for your body, plus, doesn't stretching out tight muscles feel kind of good? I sit most of the day during the week for work, so being able to stretch out my hamstrings and particularly my hip flexors, is good for me as sitting for any length of time causes these muscles to become tight.
Did I lose weight?
I didn't lose any significant weight, maybe like 3 pounds if that. Although some of the routines did make me sweat, I think if anything I might have lost a little weight and gained it back in muscle. I would say if you are looking for weight loss, then maybe yoga isn't the top exercise you'd go for, but I do think it's a great supplement for toning, relaxing and stretching alongside something more cardio focussed.
Did it help my anxiety?
For me, this was probably the biggest benefit of consistently doing yoga. It's been a very stressful time for me, and the whole world, recently. Things have been extra scary and anxiety inducing but even if I haven't felt like yoga, after I have I feel so much more relaxed and less overwhelmed. I believe this is for a number of different reasons. Firstly, just taking half an hour out of your day where you put down your phone and dedicate sometime to just listening to your body is incredibly beneficial. It gives you the space to not think about anything else except what you are doing in that moment.
A big part of yoga is breathing, it also encourages you to fully inhale and exhale, which when we are anxious we don't do. This paired with the slower, relaxing stretches, particularly at the end of your practice, naturally release tension from the body.
Did I become more aware of my body?
Yes, definitely. I became aware of just how much tension I am holding in certain parts of my body but also how to help it. I developed a new found respect for my body, despite always complaining that it is not quite how I would like it, I understand it much better and appreciate the necessity to give it a little care and attention!
For those considering taking up yoga, I would say absolutely do. Please do consult your doctor before taking up any new activity, but yoga is a great self care exercise that you can really cater to your needs! Plus, there are loads of apps, classes and videos out there to get you started on the right path!
Do you practise yoga? What do you love about it?