Three weeks ago, I started focusing on getting back in shape again, and one of the ways I’ve been doing that is by practicing yoga. I’ve practiced yoga on and off for almost three years now; however, I’ve recently decided that I want yoga to be a bigger, more consistent part of my life. I want to learn more about it, practice it almost every day, and even attend a yoga retreat or two. Here’s why:
1) It’s my favorite way to build body strength – At the end of 2011, I started using P90X as a way to get in shape. If you’re familiar with the program at all, you know that there’s a lot of strength training involved (e.g. lifting weights, pull ups, push ups). I knew this going into the program, and I thought I could learn to enjoy lifting weights and doing pull ups, but I never did. Honestly, I found it to be boring doing the same movements over and over again. In yoga, there are no weights or pull up bars– there are poses. Lots and lots of poses that work and strengthen your muscles in all kinds of way. I love that I can go to a yoga class almost every day and the class is different every time because of the variety of poses; this keeps me more engaged and feeling constantly challenged. And not only does yoga build strength, it builds flexibility and balance in your body, too. Talk about a triple win!
2) It calms my mind – I’ve been under a lot of stress for the past few months due to my job, money, and planning a wedding. When I go to my yoga studio, it’s my time to be alone: I don’t have to talk to anyone if I don’t feel like it– just sort through my thoughts, or even leave them at the door if I want to and, instead, focus on myself and bettering my body for 60-75 minutes.
3) It makes me want to be a better person – I’m not religious and I don’t go to church, so I never really get weekly reminders and lessons on how to be a good person and do nice things for other people. When I go to yoga, I am surrounded by happy, smiling yoga instructors– instructors who radiate with kindness and share inspiring stories about people who do good in the world. And they encourage us, their students, to do the same. It’s weekly encouragement like this that makes me think, “Maybe today I should pay for the coffee of the person behind me in the Starbucks drive-thru” or “Give a random stranger a compliment” or “Spare a few bucks so a homeless man can get something to eat.” For me, going to yoga in not just a way to get fit– it’s a way to fill a spiritual void that I’ve had for a very long time.
Have you ever tried yoga? If so, what do you think of it? Do you have a particular workout that you love?