Why Yoga At Home Is Better For Your Health Than Studio Yoga

If you think that you have to spend years doing yoga or go to a led yoga class 5 days a week to get all the benefits of yoga think again!  The latest research tells us that developing a simple home yoga routine is the biggest yoga-related predictor of better health and all of these benefits are FREE.  
In a seminal study of over 100 yoga practitioners in the US, it was found that home practice not only predicted how good people felt but also if made them more likely to practice mindfulness, have lower BMIs (smaller waistlines), eat more fruits and veggies, have better sleep and less fatigue than those without a regular home yoga routine.  They looked at home yoga as including asanas or physical postures, breath work, meditation and yoga philosophy or ways of living, like eating a healthy mostly vegetarian yogic diet. The really interesting part is that having a home yoga practice predicted all these health outcomes better than how many years they had been practicing or how many studio classes per week they went to. This means that to get all the health benefits of yoga, it is most important to practice yoga at home and you don’t have to be a yoga expert.
I know for myself that when I started doing yoga at home as part of my daily routine, it really did start to have a way bigger impact on how I felt, how I looked, my food cravings, energy levels etc because suddenly I was in control of it and could always find at least 20 minutes to do a short practice, even if I couldn’t fit in an hour and half every day.  I also found that my monkey mind found less excuses over time do not do it, because I couldn’t use the old ‘there is no class that I can make today.’ line with myself.   Yoga became part of my daily habit rather than this activity that I ‘went to classes for’ only when I could fit it in.  I also use yogic breathing practices in my everyday life, like when I need an energy boost or when I start to get a cold, I do 5 minutes of kapilabhati in the morning. I wasn’t doing this until I really developed a home practice regularly. 
So, at home, My yoga mat is always waiting for me, and after it became a habit, which takes our brain 30 days to solidify, the amount of mental resistance for whipping out my mat really faded away.  I still have days where it’s hard to get moving but I get over the resistance my reminding myself that I have never ONCE regretted making time to practice, but the days where I didn’t do it, I do regret lots of those because I just FEEL so much better afterwards and it’s always worth the time and effort spent.  
The best way to make sure your home practice is a success is to try to set aside 20 minutes at the same time each day to practice, at a time where you are most likely to be able to stick to it.  So if you are a terrible morning person, getting up 30 minutes or more early to do yoga before work isn’t likely going to stick, if your circadian rhythm is just not set up for 6 am starts!  If that’s the case and you are going to do your yoga after work, I recommend starting with a gentle hatha or yin series to wind down the nervous system and have your yoga time do ‘double duty’ to help bust problems falling asleep too. I find that doing too many backbends in the evening tends to really wake me up, so I try to avoid lots of those if I practice after 4pm.
So, even though I have a daily home routine, I still LOVE going to classes and being a student and having the community of practicing with other people.  I try to get to one studio class each week with a great teacher and I find I always learn something new to take back to my home practice.

Karma Yoga: The Brain Science of Yoga for Happiness

So when most people think about yoga, they think about sweating it out in short shorts in an urban yoga studio. But the traditional system of yoga that was created in Ancient India was an entire system of living designed to keep people mentally and physically fit and prevent illness of the brain and the body because this was the best way to live a long healthy life, before there were things like emergency medicine, antibiotics and anti-depressant pills!  
Karma yoga is the term yogi’s developed for selfless service.  Of course you don’t have to be a yogi to get the benefits: helping a friend, caring for your pet, making soup for your loved one when they are sick, giving a massage or just lending an ear to a friend in need, all count—you don’t have to volunteer in a formal setting hours each week to get the benefits.
The reason Karma yoga works to help bust anxiety, blue moods and stop worry loops in the brain is that it actually changes what areas of your brain are turned on when you are helping others. When we have time to ruminate about our own problems and worries, specific brain areas get turned on, specifically the medial prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex. These brain areas are part of the Anterior Default mode network of the brain. The job of these parts of your brain is self-referential and emotional processing related to yourself and thinking about yourself. These parts of the brain are lit up more than normal in people who have high anxiety and depression traits. Because modern city life is quite self focused and “individual-achievement” focused, it can predispose your brain to overusing these self-referential networks in the brain, leading to more unhappiness.  
I find that sometimes when I feel stressed and really busy, it can be easy to think that I don’t have time to help out a friend or spend the extra mental effort to do something thoughtful and spontaneous for my hubby or my mum… BUT the amazing thing is that when I push myself to carve out a few extra minutes to do something nice for them, it always makes me feel happier and able to put my own worries into perspective, especially after a bad day or when I’ve just got disappointing news. It’s something I am constantly working on because it really makes a difference to how I feel day to day.