It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, but I discovered that many of the stretches physical therapists suggest for their patients are exactly the same stretches and postures done on a yoga mat in a regular Hatha yoga practice. So if you have a regular practice that includes lengthy periods of stretching and strengthening, without even knowing it (or maybe you do), you could be proactively protecting your body from future harm.
A key to avoiding the physical therapist (nothing personal) could very well be extending the time you spend on your yoga mat. Sure, there are quick videos to do in the morning before you rush off to work, but isn’t “quick yoga” an oxymoron? To truly glean the most from a yoga practice, time must be spent and discipline developed. We’re in such a rush to perform at work, yet work can often be the trigger that causes injury, whether because of the physical requirements or the stress levels. So why would we rush off the yoga mat and into the workforce so quickly?
Think of your yoga mat as a sanctuary. When you spend time on it, you are safe from the demands around you, you gain strength, and become empowered. Isn’t that worth an hour? But it’s hard to practice self-care in a society and culture that demands more and more of our time. That difficulty is what yoga can help us overcome. By insisting on the value of your practice, you insist on your own well-being. And it follows that if you are well, in body, mind, and spirit, you will be a healthier, happier person altogether.
Here’s a challenge: spend an extra 15 minutes on your yoga mat each day this week. It’s up to you whether you choose to spend that time in corpse pose or doing an extended practice with more challenging flows. During those 15 minutes, keep telling yourself that this is what is required and necessary for your health and happiness. Just gift that 15 minutes to yourself for a week, consciously, mindfully, and see what happens.