FOOD & FITNESS / JUL. 14, 2015
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Top 8 Ways To Add Yoga To Your Life

Thanks to the chaos and stress of our 24/7 work culture, most of us have become familiar with the mind and body benefits of yoga. Whether we make it to a studio 3 times a week or just when we need to relax, yoga can help our hearts, build muscle, make us more flexible and, of course, its most well-known health benefit: its role in stress reduction.

But what if you have a busy career, as many of us do and find it almost impossible to head to a yoga class? Or what if you want to move beyond studio classes and deepen your love and understanding of yoga? Here are 8 ways to add more yoga into your life, whether you’re a newbie or a longtime devotee. We all need to learn to de-stress, and your career will soar if you come into the office more balanced and stress-free than ever before.

See Also: How Yoga Can Help Your Career

1. Make It To A Class Once A Week

Once a week is easy to do, right? If you find yourself feeling uninspired and unmotivated after work on a Thursday when you promised yourself you would head to that 8 p.m. restorative yoga class, remember the amazing health benefits of yoga and why it will do your body and mind good to step into that studio.

If you rarely sit up straight whether at the dining room table or at your desk at work, yoga can fix your posture. Yoga will also decrease your blood pressure and, of course, decrease your stress levels. So if you can make it to a class once a week, it’s a good idea to make it a habit. If you don’t want to sign up ahead of time, find a nearby studio that has drop-in classes.

2. Always Do Yoga After A Stressful Day

You didn’t sit down once today. You went to not one but three meetings, each of which lasted much longer than it was supposed to. You forgot your carefully packed snacks and healthy lunch at home and were forced to settle for a few slices of pizza, which only made you more exhausted and unmotivated. Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, you had to stay an hour late because a last-minute crisis occurred just as you were heading out the door. Sound familiar?

Many of us experience crazy days from time to time. Since we’re only human, what we always want to do after a day like that is head home for a night of TV and fast food. However, that will only make you feel more tired than you were before, and your stress levels are likely to remain the same. The solution? Head to a yoga class, without fail, whenever you have a busy, stress-filled day at the office. Your body will thank you, you will breathe more easily and can bet on an amazing night’s sleep, which will leave you rested and ready for the next day of work.

3. Do Some Chair Yoga

Chair Yoga may sound funny, but it’s just as effective as regular yoga in terms of what it can do for your health. You may think you look pretty silly doing a bunch of stretches and exercises at your desk, but just remember this incredible fact: after a 3 month period of chair yoga, you can expect your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar to all decrease. Still think it sounds funny now?

Chair yoga is particularly helpful to those of us who work in offices because we’re sitting at our desks for the majority of the day. Experts believe that a whole range of health problems can result from sitting too much. Your risk of death goes up, along with chances of having a heart attack or diabetes. Those living in the U.K. are thought to sit for 7-10 hours a day. But chair yoga exercises are easy to find online. You have to be at work every day anyway, and you know you have to sit for long periods of time. You can try to offset the damages of sitting by walking at lunch and around the office to talk to a co-worker rather than emailing them. So why not embrace chair yoga today? It is much more effective.

4. Sign Up For A 200-Hour Certification

If you absolutely love yoga and simply attending weekly classes at your neighbourhood studio isn’t enough, you can sign up for a 200-hour certification. You can use this to teach yoga yourself if you want to supplement your income, or you can even dream big and change careers and become a full-time yoga teacher. Or maybe you just want to learn more about the practice and history of yoga. Whatever your reason, a yoga training program will allow you to add more yoga into your life. Classes take place on evenings and weekends so while it’s a tiring journey, it’s definitely doable when you have a full-time job.

5. Put Your Legs Up the Wall

The legs-up-the-wall yoga pose is quite possibly the most relaxing and calm-inducing pose there is. And it couldn’t be simpler. All you need is a wall, so this is a great pose to do every night -- just add it to your bedtime routine, and you will be ready to sleep deeper and better than ever before.

You can support your lower back on a pillow, which is another great reason to do this pose in your bedroom, since of course you have pillows on your bed. Just get into position and close your eyes. You can choose how long you wish to stay in the pose. This specifically targets the nervous system that is responsible for how relaxed or freaked out you feel in response to something. While you can’t, of course, do this pose at work every day when you receive a stress-inducing email or project, you can definitely do it every evening to ensure that you wake up feeling rested the next morning.

6. Go Upside Down

There are certain yoga poses that are called inversions and, effectively, mean that you go upside down. While theses poses that includes headstands and handstands may not seem super healthy -- and may, in fact, seem kind of scary -- they can do everything from help the circulation in your legs to help you concentrate better.

Practice a few times at home every week, and you can even do a modified handstand if you haven’t worked up to the full version yet. Just get into Downward Dog near a wall in your apartment or house and move your legs up as far up the wall as you possibly can. You will reap the same benefits and will be performing your version of a modified inversion.

7. Do Plank Every Morning

Plank is an amazing core exercise and is usually part of a yoga flow, which involves moving through a series of postures: usually standing, then folding over, then moving into plank, Downward Dog, and/or maybe a few lunges in between.

Why not begin your busy day by feeling strong and ready for anything by getting into plank before leaving your house? It’s your choice whether you want to get into plank on your elbows or hands -- the elbows are usually a bit easier to handle. You will also get a boost of confidence which will help you have an amazing day at the office. And as a bonus, planks will make you feel much happier because they allow muscles to stretch out in a unique way.

8. Learn To Breathe Slowly and Deeply

Yoga has its own type of breathing often referred to as "yogic breath" and this is why yoga is thought to be so amazing in terms of its ability to lower our stress levels. Just try this technique any time you’re stressed at the office: simply breathe. Slow down your breath so the in and the out takes as many seconds as you can handle. You will instantly feel better and more calm.

This is a great trick anytime you’re in a chaotic situation, whether you’re at the office or dealing with a busy subway train on your morning or evening commute. Practice this type of breathing whenever you want and you will become a pro at immediately calming yourself down. Wouldn’t it be amazing to rise to any challenge at work and never feel stressed? Yogic breath can get you there.

See Also: How to Do Office Yoga

Feeling inspired to hit the mat after reading these top 8 ways to add more yoga into your life? Whether you do some chair yoga at your desk when you have a few minutes of downtime or make it a point to attend one class every week, you will be breathing freer and feeling calmer than ever before, not to mention the long-term benefits.

Do you practice any of the methods mentioned above? Do you find them effective?

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