By Jena Mays
For many of us, the fact that September is National Yoga Month might cause you to feel a little bit sad. After all, with COVID-19 still wreaking havoc, it’s not like you can head to your local class, spread out your B yoga mat, and work up a sweat. In a post-COVID world, most of us are on our own, or if we have access to a class, it’s pretty socially distanced, which changes the atmosphere and our level of enjoyment.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get your yoga on! In fact, there are plenty of ways to enjoy yoga right at home. Of course, there are a few things you’ll need to know about at-home yoga before you begin your personal practice.
If you’ve done yoga in the past, you can certainly transfer that knowledge to at-home yoga. However, now is a perfect time to break out and try something new. For instance, you might want to check out Bikram, or “hot,” yoga. You might be more interested in restorative yoga, or the benefits of Vinyasa flow yoga. Laughter yoga combines the physical benefits of yogic exercise with the stress relief and endorphin release of laughter.
Since it’s National Yoga Month, it is the perfect time to explore a new form and see what it has to offer. Think about taking online yoga classes if you feel like you could benefit from an instructor-led class.
For those still on the fence about yoga, not only does National Yoga Month offer a great way to jump into this new world, but it also marks an opportunity to improve your mind and body. To understand that, you need to know a bit more about the benefits that yoga offers.
Yoga has been used for centuries in Eastern culture due to the wide range of physical and mental health benefits it offers. Even if you’re just starting out, you can see some serious improvements in how you feel and how your body works. For instance, even just a few yoga sessions can help improve your flexibility, as well as your muscle strength and tone. It’s also been shown to help boost energy and stamina, speed up your metabolism, lead to weight reduction, and improve your cardio health.
In addition to the dramatic difference, it can make in how your body feels, the benefits of yoga also extend to your mental and emotional state. It has been shown to help increase awareness and acceptance of your body, reduce mental stress, improve concentration, and improve self-confidence and self-acceptance.
Yoga alone can deliver vital mental and physical health benefits. However, when you combine it with meditation (as it was originally intended in Eastern tradition), you get a powerful one-two punch that can help address everything from weight loss to depression and anxiety. What sorts of meditation should you try? There are lots of options, but two of them stand out as being particularly well suited for beginners—gratitude meditation and peaceful meditation.
Giving thanks can make you a happier human being. Gratitude is a powerful force in your life and your mind. Simply cultivating a sense of gratitude can be the key to reducing mental and emotional stress and becoming a happier, healthier person.
So, how does this work? It’s not particularly complicated, but it will require intentionality and effort, at least while you develop your practice. Here are some simple steps to help you get started during National Yoga Month:
Do this regularly (daily, if possible), and you will find that you become more grateful in all areas of your life. You will also become a happier person in general.
Peaceful meditation can be similar to gratitude meditation. In fact, a sense of gratitude often leads to a feeling of deep and abiding peace. Follow the same steps outlined above, but focus on the present moment.
Often, this is simplest when you just follow your breath in and out. Appreciate the present moment for what it is—the only moment you will ever experience. Right now is the only moment in life. Don’t judge the moment. It is neither good nor bad. Simply accept it, focus on it, and allow that sense of peace to fill you up. This is the beginning of mindfulness, which is a practice that can completely transform your life. Combined with yoga and meditation, mindful living will help you become physically, mentally, and emotionally happier and healthier.
With National Yoga Month right around the corner, there’s never been a better time to get started. Yoga and meditation practices can be incredibly transformational. You don’t have to go into it looking to change your entire life, either.
Start small. Use yoga to help improve your flexibility, for instance, and then go from there. Understand that it’s all a process and there is no endpoint. There is only the journey along the path and constant transformation. In that way, your journey reflects life itself, which is constantly changing and evolving over time.