I did yoga every single day for a month and this is what happened

You've heard time and time again how good doing yoga regularly can be for you and yet really committing to incorporating it into your everyday life can sometimes seem a bit tricky.

Even while we've been stuck at home for a lot of the past year, between working, getting our steps in, cooking, cleaning, doing a workout, walking the dogs, occupying the kids, it seems like there is never much time for just us.

Young woman folding yoga mat  after class end
I did yoga every single day for a month and this is what happened. Photo: Getty

I'll be the first to admit I've tried a few times to get a solid yoga routine going but have not been able to stick to it, always thinking I don't have the time. So when I was offered the chance to test out Apple Fitness+ which has yoga classes as quick as 10 minutes and mindful cool downs that are 5 minutes long, I thought why not try and do it every single day and see what happens - because we all definitely have 5 minutes!

As Fitness+ yoga trainer Dustin Brown tells Yahoo Lifestyle it: "The 10-minute workouts in Fitness+ are perfect whether you are new to Yoga or simply trying to fit it in where you can."

Dustin also points out yoga can "help you build strength, gain flexibility and bring more mindfulness into your day, so any amount of Yoga you do will be good for you."

Here's what happened when I did yoga every single day for a month:

apple fitness yoga
The Apple Fitness+ Yoga classes range from 5-45 minutes so there was no excuse. Photos: Supplied

I got stronger and had better workouts

One of my favourite Fitness+ trainers Jessica Skye explains: "Yoga is one of the best ways to improve flexibility, balance and core stability, so it’s a great compliment to other styles of training like running, HIIT and strength workouts, not to mention a great option for rest days.".

I'm a regular gym goer and have had my fair share of niggling injuries in the past, so I know how important recovery is as part of my routine. But I had no idea adding in just a little bit of yoga every day would make such a difference to my HIIT workouts. I felt I could squat and lunge deeper, my push ups improved and my core stability is so much better than before.

I slept better

According to a survey from the NCCIH, over 55 percent of yogis report improved sleep, and more than 85 percent said they were less stressed.

Marlynn Wei, MD, a psychiatrist in New York City, told Harvard Medical School that a lot of the credit goes to the breathing practices in yoga, which can help you relax and relieve tension after a crazy stressful day.

I definitely found I was taking much less time to fall asleep than I was before, and I definitely felt more rested at the other end as well.

woman doing yoga
Yoga helped me sleep better and improved my focus. Photo: Getty

I had better focus

I have 100 per cent been guilty of procrastinating over the last year, especially while reading a book, or completing a task for work - because when you're at home you can totally just get up for five snacks in an hour and no one will know!

But yoga practice helped me focus, because as Nadia Agarwal, a certified yoga teacher, explains some forms of yoga are about "self-development and devotion"

"Continuous dedication to your yoga asana practice can lead to a high level of focus and dedication in other areas of your life as you train your mind to reach your goals," she said.

I became more mindful

Similar to regaining my focus, I also feel I became more mindful of how I was feeling, both physically in my body and mentally.

Fitness+ yoga instructor Jonelle Lewis says that "Yoga workouts not only help you improve your fitness, each breath, movement and flow is a chance to be present in your body and your mind."

"This can help you feel more centred and connected which can lead to more calm and ease in your life."

A review of studies published in Frontiers in Psychiatry suggested that those with depression, schizophrenia, sleep problems, and other mental health conditions could all benefit from practicing yoga.

I definitely can attest to the fact that yoga can have an immediate mood-boosting effect.

"There are so many postures in yoga that help with depression and mood," Robin Berzin, MD, functional medicine physician and founder of Parsley Health, told Mind Body Green. Some of her favourites for this purpose: camel pose, pigeon pose, and legs up the wall, which help you quite literally open your heart and find new perspective.

"Even when the fog of depression seems impossibly thick, connecting with the body is an awesome way to find presence, and presence is like a headlight that lets you see a way forward and out," Robin says.

If you're having a bit of a tough time during the lockdowns we urge you to join our 30-day mental health challenge for July. It is all about focusing on your mental wellbeing and learning some new techniques to help you cope. Check out some meditation tips for beginners here.

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