Introduction By: Gracie
Article By: Niraj Shah
It’s the New Year… we’re all feeling motivated and on a mission to change the world and ourselves (‘new year, new you’…right!?), but it’s common knowledge that a lot of the goals and resolutions we set (particularly diet goals) can be quite ridiculous and last a couple of weeks before the motivation is lost. This leaves us back a square one- feeling uninspired, bored and like we’re stuck in a ‘January blues’ slump.
At Squirrel Sisters HQ we find the best way to stay motivated isn’t to set unachievable goals, but to make small lifestyle changes that will make you happier and healthier both physically and mentally. Making a small change with noticeable benefits means it’s easier for it to become a habit and one worthwhile and easy habit to start trying is yoga!
Yoga is not something you have to do everyday or every week for that matter, you can include it in your routine whenever you feel it’s needed… a small change with mighty benefits! We spoke to Niraj Shah who tell’s us why yoga has become such a big part of his life, how important it can be for us in our everyday lives and especially important to keep you going in the New Year.
Niraj Shah is an entrepreneur, angel investor, recreational snowboarder and a regular practitioner of yoga and meditation. His latest project is The Present of Yoga, a global resource designed to democratise business knowledge for today’s yoga leaders.
3 reasons why yoga could be your most useful new habit in 2017
I’m often asked how I discovered yoga. I didn’t find yoga, it was forced on me. Yoga was the only physical activity I was permitted to do whilst recovering from a sudden and serious stroke at the age of 30. It’s been a huge part of my life ever since.
In the years since the stroke I’ve made a full recovery, started and successfully built my first business to the point where it has given me some freedom, got back on a snowboard to a significantly higher level than I was at before illness and today at age 37 I’m in the best physical and mental shape of my life. Physical yoga practice and meditation are the threads that permeate all of those things.
Here are 3 big reasons why I believe a regular yoga class could be your most useful new habit for 2017.
- It’s the perfect complement to all other physical activity
Whatever your physical goals or activities are, a regular yoga session will improve them. At the most basic level stretching increases your blood flow and circulation, as well as alleviating muscle tightness. There’s a lot more to yoga than simply stretching – it will improve your flexibility, build muscle tone, improve your posture, protect your spine… I could go on and on! Yoga is the gift that you give to yourself, it undoubtedly makes me a better snowboarder and athlete.
- It stimulates your body’s natural detoxification system
Let’s face it, after the holiday season detox is high on many of our agendas! Your body’s natural detox system works like this: blood is pumped around the body by the heart, transporting nutrients and oxygen to the cells. Once the cells have absorbed what they need, they excrete debris and toxins, which then get flushed and deactivated by lymphatic fluid. If you aren’t breathing deeply or moving regularly, chances are your lymph fluid is not flowing as well as it could. Deep breathing is a core part of yoga and will get your lymph system going!
- It’s a great way to switch off from the world’s demands
In today’s fast paced, “always on” world there’s something both very grounding and almost indulgent about taking 60-90 minutes to switch off from everything – especially our phones! It always feels great to unplug from the Matrix and once we dull the noise of modern life, our natural calmness sets in and creativity can flow. I’ve had countless insights and great ideas straight after a yoga or meditation session. Even when the ideas don’t flow, the stress melts away. I know many people who get this same benefit from going for a run, doing a great exercise class or playing an instrument. Yoga and meditation are not the only paths, they are simply highly effective systems with many additional benefits.
So now you’re convinced, or at least curious to find out, how do you find a good yoga class? If you are already familiar with the basic yoga poses or can’t find specific beginner classes in your area, my tip is to look for classes titled Vinyasa or Vinyasa Flow – these tend to be fairly mainstream classes and a great place to start. If you don’t like the first class you go to then try another until you find a teacher that you connect with. That is key, as yoga is a very personal experience.
Other options are:
- Use an online platform. My favourite is Movement for Modern Life, which has a free 14 day trial so you can try before you buy and during January it’s a huge 50% off the normal price if you use the code TPOY50.
- Find some free videos. I highly recommend my friend Tara Stiles’ YouTube channel. She is known around the world for her dogma free, accessible approach to yoga and her sequences are perfect for newcomers.
- For meditation I like the app Calm, which has many guided meditations starting from just 2 minutes long! My system of choice today is Vedic Meditation which requires some training, but Calm is a brilliant introduction to meditation and it’s benefits.
If you like what you’ve read above, you can find more of my musings on my Instagram account, which I use as a mini blog about entrepreneurship, yoga and wellbeing. Wishing you a happy and healthy 2017!