Why I love Yoga

Meditation. Yoga Retreat - StefanieGrace.com

It’s no secret that I have recently become a major convert to yoga. One look at my Twitter feed praising the goddess that is Adriene Mishler of Yoga with Adriene or a browse of my YouTube channel where I mention yoga every week. I used to do yoga once a week when I was at university (10 years ago…!) and I loved it, but it wasn’t enough to get me truly obsessed. Before that I had dabbled in Body Balance classes and the occasional youtube workout. Then I tried a few dvds whilst traveling and working from home (My all-time favourite is actually Body by Bethenny). THEN, I discovered Adriene on YouTube and the rest was history. I crave yoga when I don’t do it. Here are some of the reasons why I love it so much.

It stretches me out

This may be obvious, but I am pretty bad at taking the time to stretch at the end of every workout – I probably do it 1 in 3 workouts, if I am truly honest. (That’s a pretty good example of not practicing what I preach, right?!) However, when I can fit in a quick yoga session a few times a week, it definitely makes up for those skipped cool downs. And I always feel better afterwards.

Cobra. Yoga Retreat - StefanieGrace.com

It heals me

One of the main reasons that I fell in love with yoga was when I was training for my marathon last year and I got pretty bad shin splints. I credit yoga as being the no1 reason that I made it to the marathon and over the finish line. I found a group of yoga for runners videos on YouTube and I alternated them daily – even on non-running days. Not only did the practice make me limber and stronger, but it also made me feel more in control of my injury and my body, which in turn gave me the confidence to push myself further and finish the race.

It keeps me calm

A by-product of the daily yoga for my running was the calm it gave me after each session and throughout my daily life. I will now say that regular yoga practice is the only way I can control my stress and my anxiety levels. I can get pretty worked up when I have a lot of work on or I’m not making enough to pay my bills that month (It happens as a small business owner). They say meditation works in the same way, but I’m not ‘good enough’ at meditating yet to actually chill me out. By that I mean that sitting still in silence, usually my mind wanders whereas in yoga, the physical aspect gives me a focus and a feeling of relaxation.

Standing. Yoga Retreat - StefanieGrace.com

It is my own time

I made a decision in the first week of this year that yoga was no longer about fitness for me – it was about the mind. I no longer wanted to only do yoga that day as my workout and hike on other days. I knew I probably needed something more intense like HIIT and cardio to shift my extra weight and push myself closer to my goals. However, I wasn’t willing to give up the yoga. In doing this I now work out more, and yoga is more about me-time rather than a chore that I had to do every day. If it tones my body and gives me great abs then perfect – but that’s not why I’m doing it.

It makes me more creative

When I am calm, my creativity is so strong. I get my best ideas when out on hikes and at the end of a long yoga session. Sometimes blog and business ideas come to me mid-session and it takes all the mental strength I have to continue with the workout rather than grabbing my phone to jot the ideas down. When I’m having an unproductive day at work (again, it happens), even a short session is enough to refresh my mind and reset my body to get back to work and be creative and productive. I love that I can do something with my body to help my mind.

Boat. Yoga Retreat - StefanieGrace.com

I really get to know my own body

When I do yoga, I am using my whole body and in that, I always notice when my notorious right calf is extra tight (the reason for my shin splints) or my back is locking up or even when my shoulders are tighter than usual. Equally, I notice all of those ‘non-scale victories‘ like how strong I am on certain days, how long I can hold a plank, how straight I can get my legs etc and I love all of them. I love that I know when I’m tired or need to rest. I’ve learned that if my body is struggling in yoga, I need to take a break. If I feel sleepy, then I go with it and take a nap or go to bed early. Sometimes, I don’t even realise how tired I am until I hit the mat and wish I’d picked a more relaxing yoga video to follow! Every now and then, you need a little yogic meditation over a hardcore flow sweat session – and that’s totally cool with me.

There are 3 things I’d love to do with my newfound love of yoga to take it to the next level:

1. Do #YogaEveryDamnDay

Firstly, I love this hashtag. And secondly, I really want yoga to become a part of my morning routine. I managed it for a while a few months ago after promising myself that was going to focus on self-care to improve my productivity and lower my stress levels. But once I felt better, and I needed it less, those sessions slowly become less and less often. I think the idea of doing a full 20-30minute yoga video feels like a lot on a day when you are busy and need to get up and on it, but I think that I need to do this to avoid hitting higher stress levels in future Even if I just took 5 or 10 mins in the morning to do a few sun salutations, welcome the new day, stretch out and chill out before I get busy, I think that would be perfect.

2. Go on a Yoga Retreat

Yoga Retreat Thailand - StefanieGrace.com

This is a big one. I’ve always wanted to go on a writing retreat or a bootcamp, but the more I think about it, I think a yoga retreat would make the biggest difference to my life because I would come back calmer and filled with creative ideas. Also I think it would be a great way to improve my form and kickstart my daily practice. My friends and I have often discussed going on a healthy, girly holiday and I think this year needs to be the year that I get it organised! Plus, I’m not sure Rob would be interested in coming along for a whole trip (although he has agreed to try out a couple of Youtube videos with me!). I’ve been browsing Bookyogaretreats.com for an idea of the kind of trip I’d like to go on  and I just can’t decide. They have packages from 3 days in the UK to a spa and yoga detox in Greece to 14 days in Thailand with a fitness bootcamp incorporated. The pic above is from one of their Thai offerings. I mean who could turn that down?! But Greece sounds pretty good, right? Anybody want to come with me? Lets do this!

3. Do Yoga Outside.Yoga Retreat Spain - StefanieGrace.com

I know I’ll definitely be doing this on my first yoga retreat, I hope! (The picture above here is from a package on BookYogaRetreats.com in Spain – how amazing does it look?!) But also, I just can’t wait for summer to come because I really want to do some yoga out on the deck in my back garden and then sit and read a book with a cup of tea. How perfect would that be to start the day? Bring on the summer and yoga outdoors!

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Why I love Yoga - StefanieGrace.com

*This post is sponsored by BookYogaRetreats.com. They believe that a travel experience with an educational theme is a lifetime memory that lets people discover their abilities and increases happiness and personal growth. All opinions are my own – and I genuinely want to book a yoga retreat this year so let me know if you want to come!