In today’s busy modern world, yoga has evolved over the years to fit into our jam-packed schedules, the most notable of these being - practices are shorter.
The traditional yoga class and used to last 90 minutes, which was a standard practice. Nowadays, we see 60, 30, even 5 minutes yoga practices, which while they still have their uses, sometimes can’t compare to the benefits of a longer practice. The main benefit of a longer yoga practice is more time to focus on mindfulness, breathing techniques, and to generally help you relax.
Here are 10 ways these benefits can positively impact your life.
Studies have shown that pranayama - the practice of controlling the breath - can reduce stress levels in healthy adults. This is because the focus on the breath can calm down the nervous system, improving your stress response. This type of breathing exercise can also reduce anxiety before stressful events, perhaps due to the increased oxygen intake to your vital organs. A longer yoga class can help to dedicate more time towards practicing pranayama.
Improve Your Sleep
Practicing yoga for longer often means holding poses for longer, especially in types of yoga such as Yin Yoga. These longer poses can help to slow down your breathing and your heart rate, aiding your body in calming down when preparing for sleep. This can result in a better quality of sleep, as well as making you feel zen before hitting the sheets!
When you take longer in your yoga practice, you have more time to practice mindfulness. Taking your time to notice your body and your breath, and being present in the moment of the movements you are making can vastly improve your mindfulness, which can in turn help you regulate emotions.
Lower Blood Pressure
Higher blood pressure is also known as hypertension, and can cause serious health conditions such as a stroke or heart disease. Stress is a huge cause and risk factor for high blood pressure. Longer yoga sessions can help to increase relaxation and minimize the risk of high blood pressure. Studies have shown that yoga and breath training can actually help reduce blood pressure in cases of mild hypertension.
Better Lung Function
Slow, steady movements in a longer yoga practice can help you to practice slower, forceful breathing, which can strengthen your lungs. In fact, 6 weeks practicing longer yoga once a day can have a significant effect on your lung function, and can help aid in lung conditions such as asthma, allergies, and aid in recovery from pneumonia.
Increased Brain Performance
Yoga practice can aid in improving your brain function, and longer classes will only increase this benefit. A few weeks of yoga classes can improve your executive function - this can include your memory, cognitive flexibility, and reasoning skills. It can also improve your reactions to stressful situations. The combination of movement and deep breathing increases oxygen uptake, which gives energy to your brain cells.
Increased Sense of Awareness
Having a longer time to practice yoga will give you more time to practice mindfulness, which in turn will expand your perspective and understanding of who you are. Having time to do some mindful yoga will help you to turn inwards, and notice how your body, breath and emotions react to poses and situations. You can cultivate this awareness in your yoga practice, and take it as a tool off the mat. Being aware of yourself can help you to grow, to develop life skills that will help you in the future.
Longer, more mindful practice can help to encourage patience, and discourage reactivity when you’re not on the mat. This can be translated to lots of different aspects of your life, including work, relationships, friendships and other activities. More patience can mean that conflicts and confrontations are easier to navigate, and we can stop and reflect before reactions.
Deepen Your Everyday Practice
Doing a longer, mindful practice every now and again can help to bring more meaning to your everyday yoga practice. It can be easy to let yoga become just another thing on your to-do list, or another form of exercise, and it’s easy to slip into just going through the motions rather than doing movements with conscious thoughts.
This week we highlight some 45-90 minute yoga classes, so you have time to dive into your practice. While it can appeal to always pick the shorter class options, and they are excellent at delivering a concise yoga practice, there is something special about taking your time and practicing longer yoga classes. This week's classes all give you time to enjoy your practice.
1. Noemi Nuñez - Unity of Opposites
2. Ali Duncan - Yoga & Reiki
3. Rob Loud - Hearts & Hips: The Beauty of Asymmetry
4. Jack Cuneo - Align & Flow: Mind in One Place
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