Sep 26th, 2015, 01:25 PM

Six Reasons Why Yoga is Perfect for Busy People

By Angelic Croxell
Take some time and stretch out so you can be happier and more productive
Yoga isn't just a passing fad, it has real value for busy, stressed out, over worked people like Angelic Croxell

If I were to list the reasons yoga is good for you, this article would be book-length. So instead I’m going to explain in six points why yoga is the perfect activity for busy, stressed-out graduate students like me, and beneficial for anyone who works long, crazy, stressful hours but still wants to do something physical to relax.

1.     It’s practically free

We all have to survive on a budget, especially poor college graduate students who just spent a month’s rent on textbooks. Nobody wants to pay for an expensive gym membership or buy a costly exercise machine. In yoga, the only thing you have to purchase is a yoga mat. They cost anywhere from $25 to $350 and up. Personally, I love my Manduka Pro, which cost about $125. Expensive yoga clothes are not required. You can wear whatever you are most comfortable in, so long as it allows you to move freely.

2.     It can be an indoor activity, all you need is enough space for your yoga mat

Weather in Paris, like in many cities, changes constantly no matter what season we are in. You cannot always count on a nice, sunny day to go out and exercise in the summer, and certainly not in the winter. Though yoga can be practiced anywhere, it is always an option to roll out your yoga mat in your temperature controlled living room regardless of what Mother Nature has going on outside. You need only enough floor space for your yoga mat. Yoga mats typically come in two sizes: Standard is 71” long by 26” wide -- perfect for short people like me (I'm 5’3”).  For those of you who are not vertically challenged like I am, yoga mats come in long sizes 85” long by 26” wide.


 3.     You can do it alone or with friends

This is one of the best parts about practicing yoga. You can practice solo at home like I do, get a group of friends together and change houses every week, or find a local yoga studio offering classes that fit into your schedule. If you’re doing it at home as a beginner or just want someone to walk you through it, there are plenty of YouTube videos to watch and  DVDs to purchase online. If you go the route of yoga classes, I recommend finding a private yoga practice at a nearby studio. Check out YogaFinder to find one in your city. Do not pay for a gym membership. The classes are not nearly as good and they cost twice as much.

4.     You can do it any time of the day or night for as long as you like

If you are a busy bee like I am, finding time is always a challenge and it's easy to find an excuse not to work out. You can practice yoga at 5 a.m. before work or classes (if you are a student like me), on your lunch break (which I did when I was working in Dallas), or after work when you can relax and have some time to yourself. There is no right or wrong time to do yoga, nor is there a right or wrong length of time to practice. You can take ten minutes out of your day to take a break and stretch out on your mat, or if you’re feeling extra tense and stressed you can take an hour or more. And you can change the routine every day to fit your needs. It’s totally personalized to you and what you need.

5.     Boosts oxygen flow to your brain to help you think

We all have those moments of wow, I know this! Most of the time if you stop thinking about it, it will come to you naturally. You just have to give your brain time to clear out all the files stored in your head. This happens to people who use their brain for most of their day like graduate students. We are constantly in class, studying for class, writing a paper about the lecture in class, or researching whatever topic we just learned about in class. Yoga is the practice of stilling your mind and clearing out all the clutter that clogs up your brain and stunts your ability to process information. As you practice yoga your mind stops thinking about the external world around you and starts to focus on what’s inside you. You magically get whisked away from the stress and tension of whatever situation you just left into a place where you are all that is important. For however briefly you take this trip away from the ins and outs of your day, it will clear your mind and renew your brain’s ability to process information and function quickly.

6.     Boosts positive and happy chemicals in your brain, making you feel awesome

Who doesn’t need an energy boost first thing in the morning or midday when you’re tired at lunch? Yoga is the perfect activity to boost a positive sense of self by increasing the happy chemicals in your brain like adrenaline, serotonin, and other endorphins that give you that feel good feeling. By taking deep breaths, holding poses, increasing your heart rate and clearing your mind you are helping your body process out the old toxins and replace them with fresh new vitamins and oxygen that make you feel calm and relaxed and happy. What’s more, there is a yoga technique called “taking it off the mat” which means you take all the benefits and wonderful feelings you get while doing yoga off of your mat when you’re done and you carry them with you throughout the day. The American Yoga Association agrees. Your happiness doesn’t stop when you stop the yoga, you get to take the calm, relaxed, happy energy with you when you go.

 So yoga is more than just a passing trend for hippies and people who like to twist themselves into pretzels. It has real value and purpose for people of all lifestyles, but especially those of us who are constantly on the go. I honestly do not know what I would do without yoga some days. The more stressful my life gets, the more I get out of my yoga practice every day. It does wonders to ease the anxiety and stress that come with living a busy life.