The Power of Daily Yoga Practices: Unfurl Your Mat Before You Lose It
Greetings, my lovely Yogis, Yoginis, and Yoga teachers. I’m George Watts, a BWY yoga teacher and creator of the online Yoga Genie Lesson Planner.
Today, I’d like to share my sticky note, doodle art and blog post called “The Longer Your Wait To Get On Your Yoga Mat, The Harder It Gets To Unfurl It“.
If you’re a fellow yoga teacher, you can use this post as inspiration on how to inspire your students to unfurl their yoga mats daily.
Daily Yoga Practice Doodle Art
Yoga has been practised for thousands of years, but only recently have scientists begun to study its effects on the body and mind. Research has shown that daily yoga practice has numerous benefits for physical, mental, and emotional health.
The longer you wait to get on your yoga mat the harder it gets to unfurl it.
To help my yoga students get on their yoga mats daily, I have a printout of my doodle art (see above) next to the “Sign In Sheet”, and I also have a printout of these 10 scientific benefits of daily yoga practice.
10 Proven Scientific Benefits Of A Daily Yoga Practice
Here are some of the proven scientific benefits of daily yoga practice:
- Reduces stress: One of the most well-known benefits of yoga is its ability to reduce stress. Studies have shown that regular yoga practice can lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and reduce anxiety.
- Improves flexibility: Yoga postures, or asanas, help to improve flexibility by stretching and lengthening the muscles. Regular practice can help to increase the range of motion and prevent injury.
- Strengthens muscles: Yoga is also a strength-building exercise. Holding postures and flowing through sequences can help to build muscle strength and endurance.
- Improves balance: Many yoga postures require balance, which helps to improve proprioception (awareness of body position) and reduce the risk of falls.
- Enhances cardiovascular health: Some styles of yoga, such as vinyasa or power yoga, can be quite aerobic and can improve cardiovascular health.
- Lowers blood pressure: Regular yoga practice has been shown to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.
- Boosts immune system: Certain yoga postures, such as inversions, can help to boost the immune system by increasing lymphatic flow.
- Improves sleep: Yoga has been shown to improve sleep quality and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.
- Reduces chronic pain: Yoga can be an effective complementary therapy for chronic pain conditions such as back pain, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia.
- Enhances mental health: Yoga has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and improve overall mood and well-being.
These are just a few of the many benefits of a daily yoga practice. Whether you practice for physical fitness, stress relief, or spiritual growth, yoga can have a positive impact on your life.
Next up is another printout I have next to the sign-up form.
For Even Better Results, Practice Twice A Day
I also have a printout in very large, bold font next to the sign-in form that says:
“For best results, practice yoga daily. For even better results, practice yoga twice a day.”
I’ve included it below for you. You can right-click on the image to download it.
This quote is often attributed to Pattabhi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga Yoga. The idea behind the quote is that consistent practice is key to achieving the benefits of yoga and that the more often you practice, the greater the benefits you will experience.
The daily practices don’t just need to be 90-minute long, epic, sweaty, Ashtanga Yoga marathons. Daily practices can also be 5 minutes or less!
In fact, these days, most of my practices are short, 1 to 10-minute-long practices. I usually fit them in several times a day during my workday (which usually involves writing blog posts and drawing doodle art).
Every 25 minutes an alarm goes off that alerts me that it’s “unfurl my mat” time.
Without the alarm, I forgot, and so will you.
Either use your phone or buy a little alarm that sits on your desk.
In fact, my alarm is so important to me, I’m gonna doodle it for you:
I highly, highly recommend you get yourself a timer like the one I used called “Polamd”, rather than use your phone because it has a million and one distractions.
If you use your phone as a timer, you will almost certainly pick up your phone after the beep goes off and get “distracted” by social media, the news, or that funny cat video.
How do I know your life so very, very well?
That’s what I do. It’s what everybody does.
Why do we do it if it’s so bad for us? Well, your smartphone is designed by a thousand and one very smart folks with one goal in mind…to get you addicted to it. So, get your Yogic hands on a “Polamd” timer (or any other similar timer will do).
Next up, is a 5-minute Yoga practice you can do that you’ll learn to love: surrender in Savasana.
5-Minute Daily Yoga Practice: Surrender In Savasana
Savasana, also known as Corpse Pose, is a crucial aspect of any yoga practice.
Before any other Maslow need can be met, one must first attain a state of complete relaxation and release. Savasana offers a time for the mind and body to rest, let go of tension and stress, and rejuvenate.
Without this restful state, the body and mind cannot function at their optimal level.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs states that physiological needs such as food, water, and air must be met before any other needs can be addressed. I believe that Savasana should be added to this list, as it is the foundation upon which all other needs can be fulfilled.
When the body is relaxed, the breath is steady, and the mind is clear, we can then move on to address our other needs, such as safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. But without this first need for rest and relaxation, the other needs cannot be fully met.
So, the next time you find yourself rushing through Savasana or skipping it altogether, remember that it is the foundation of your practice and an essential component of meeting all of your other needs.
Take the time to fully relax, let go, and rejuvenate so that you can move forward with your yoga practice and your life in a state of balance and wholeness.
“So, let’s begin by lying down comfortably on your mat, with your arms resting by your sides and your legs slightly apart. Close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths, filling your lungs with air and then exhaling slowly.
As we lie here in Savasana, we are giving our bodies and minds a chance to rest and rejuvenate. We are releasing any tension or stress that may be held in our muscles or in our thoughts. By doing so, we are addressing our physiological needs and helping our bodies to function at their optimal level.
And as we continue to breathe deeply and relax, we may find that we move beyond simply addressing our physiological needs. We may experience a sense of peace, connectedness, and being in the present moment. This is the foundation upon which we can build our higher-level needs, such as safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.
So, as we lie here in Savasana, let us be fully present, fully relaxed, and fully open to the experience. Let us be grateful for the opportunity to rest and rejuvenate, and let us remember that this is the foundation of our practice.
When you’re ready to come out of Savasana, slowly and gently start to move your fingers and toes, and then slowly roll over onto your side. Take a few deep breaths here, and then gently push yourself up to a seated position.
Remember, dear yogis, that Savasana is not just a pose, it is a fundamental need that we must fulfil in order to meet our higher-level needs. So, let us make it a priority in our practice, and in our lives.”
Oh yes, I almost forgot. There’s more than one way to do Savasana. You can do Savasana with a bolster under your knees and with a rolled-up blanket across your lower back and if you want to truly go to relax-town, you’ll want to try this version of Savasana.
5-Minute Daily Yoga Practice: Child’s Pose
When we practice Child’s Pose, we are folding in on ourselves, creating a sense of safety and protection. We are nurturing our inner child, which allows us to let go of any anxiety, fear or stress that we may be experiencing. It is a gentle pose that helps us to feel grounded and secure.
In addition to the emotional safety it provides, Child’s Pose is also physically beneficial. It is a gentle stretch for the hips, thighs and ankles, and it can also help to relieve tension in the back, neck, and shoulders.
“In Child’s Pose, we curl up into a fetal position, which can provide a sense of safety and security. It is a gentle pose that can help us to feel grounded and calm.
To come into Child’s Pose, begin on your hands and knees. Slowly bring your hips back towards your heels, extending your arms forward or alongside your body. Let your forehead rest on the ground and breathe deeply. You can also bring your knees wider apart for a deeper stretch in the hips.
As you hold the pose, imagine yourself as a child, feeling safe and protected. Allow yourself to let go of any worries or fears that you may be holding onto. Let the pose support and nurture you.
Child’s Pose is also a great physical stretch for the hips, thighs, and ankles. It can help to relieve tension in the back, neck, and shoulders. It is a restorative pose that can be practised anytime, anywhere, especially when you need to take a break and feel grounded.
Let’s make Child’s Pose a regular part of our daily practice to honour our need for safety.
5-Minute Daily Yoga Practice: Crow Pose
“Alright, yogis, it’s time to fly as a bird in Crow Pose!
Start in a squatting position with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on the mat in front of you. Spread your fingers wide like the wings of an eagle, and make sure your knees are hugging into your armpits like you’re giving yourself a big bear hug.
Now, imagine you’re a crow about to take off from your perch. Lift your hips up high, and begin to shift your weight forward into your hands. As you do this, think about spreading your wings wide and getting ready for takeoff!
Then, slowly begin to lift one foot off the ground like you’re testing your wings. Keep your gaze steady on the floor, and don’t worry if you wobble a bit. Just remember to keep hugging your knees into your armpits to help support you.
When you’re ready, lift the other foot off the ground and bring your heels towards your bum. This is where the real magic happens. Imagine you’re soaring high above the treetops, feeling light and free like a bird in flight.
Hold the pose for a few breaths, and then gently release your feet back down to the mat. Take a moment to feel the energy flowing through your body, and remember that with practice, you too can soar as a bird in Crow Pose!”
Next up, it’s time for my conclusion.
You can find 3000+ yoga poses to try on your daily practices on my free Yoga Pose Directory.
If you’re a yoga teacher, don’t be shy about asking your students at every class you teach, to continue their practice at home on a daily basis. You can even give your students the “practice yoga” quote near the top of this post as a handout.
Anf, if you’d like some more handouts for your students, take a quick peek at the five Yamas.
Oh yes, I almost forgot.
If you like creating yoga class themes, you’ll want to take a look at my blog post called 101 Perfect Poses For A Peak Pose-Themed Yoga Lesson Plan, and this one: The Power Of Love: Lessons From The Still-face Experiment.
And, hey, if you want to streamline your yoga lesson planning process and check out my online Yoga Genie Lesson Planner.
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