These days most of us spend our days in “hurry mode.” We rush through our commute to work, we rush through our projects at the office. We rush through family time, scarfing down our dinners before heading back to work, homework, or housekeeping chores. We even rush through a restful night’s sleep by spending each night thinking about the next day’s schedule! Wouldn’t it be nice to slow things down, just for a little while?
For centuries, men and women all over the world have used yoga practices to find their center and gain peace of mind. Philosophies like Hatha Yoga encourage physical and mental well-being, which makes it easier to fully experience life and handle its ups and downs. And in the midst of a world that’s always moving awfully fast, many yogis are finding calm, even on their busiest days, with a certain style of yoga practice: candlelight yoga.
Candlelight yoga is… well, it’s exactly what it sounds like. You enjoy your regular yoga practice (either in your home or at a studio) by soft, calming candlelight. This practice is great for just before bedtime, or anytime you need to gain a sense of relaxation. The movement is gentle, the music is soft, and you can really unwind at the end of the day in a way that feeds your body, mind, and soul.
When you practice candlelight yoga, the intention is different than when you practice bikram yoga or ashtanga yoga. This is practice is less athletic and more holistic (so you’re not going to break a sweat). You focus on stretching and mindful breath, while the warm glow of the candles helps you to relax and prepares your body for sleep. In fact, you just might find that candlelight yoga earns you the best sleep of your life!
The Benefits of Candlelight Yoga
Sounder Sleep: Many fitness instructors have credited candlelight yoga for a good night’s sleep. Part of the reason is the relaxing stretches and careful breathing exercises, which wind down the body and mind after a long day. However, candlelight yoga is also a great bedtime practice because it reduces your exposure to artificial light. Electric light – particularly the blue light that shines from our cell phones and computers – can be overly stimulating to the brain, keeping us alert and awake long into the night. When you take a break from this light, even briefly, your brain has an easier time falling asleep.
Improved Mood: As I’ve already mentioned, candlelight yoga focuses primarily on meditative breaths and gentle movements. Meditation and mindfulness are important parts of all yoga methods, but too often yogis brush this aspect aside to focus on the physical benefits of their practice. Not so here, and that’s a great thing! Mindfulness can do wonders to improve your mood, whether you’re suffering from depression, anxiety, or mere frustration. As you practice among the soothing candlelight, you can really gain some clarity and find that peace of mind we all crave. Trust me, that alone is worth taking time for a candlelit practice!
Better Concentration: If you practice candlelight yoga often (even one a week is enough), you may find that you are more alert and focused in your daily activities. No more dragging your feet in the morning. No more struggling to type up your reports at the office. No more drifting off when your kids ramble on about their days (hey – it happens). The reasons behind this change are simple. Firstly, you’ll be sleeping better, and this helps stimulate your mind and body tremendously. Secondly, your mind and soul have an outlet for release. When you let go of stress, you function better!
So, the next time you feel like there’s too much on your plate, take some time for yourself and find that inner peace. You can find candlelight yoga classes at most local studios (just Google “candlelight yoga” or “nighttime yoga” and you’ll find something near you). Or, if you don’t have time to visit a class, simply light some candles, play some music, and give candlelight yoga a try right in your own living room! After all, you deserve to relax.