I had dabbled occasionally in yoga classes, but I had never committed to making it part of my routine until I stumbled across this one as part of my New Year's Resolutions (you know, the whole 'new year, new me' thing). I go to the gym every weekday morning, and I am now finding time in the half hour window before I go to sleep to do an evening yoga practice. I just finished Day 20 of the 30 Day Yoga Camp put on by Adriene on YouTube. And it's fantastic. She's funny, she knows exactly what to say and what you need to hear, and she makes 20-40 minutes on the mat fly by. So, why have I stuck with this new addition to my daily routine?
I am currently a full-time university student with five intense upper-year classes in everything from terrorism to conversational German along with active involvement in my sorority and participation in rec sports teams. Most of my day sees me at the gym or eating or going to class or studying or going to meeting or seeing friends. So I take the little chunk of time before bed and switch off all my connections to the world and take some time for myself.
I Feel Strong
Yoga makes me feel strong. Yes, going to the gym and eating well also does that. But being on the mat struggling to hold a certain finely tuned pose for just a few more breaths has returned some of the discipline and structured strength that I crave from the rigorous world of dance.
I am four years post-spinal-fractures in two of my lumbar vertebra and I still live with the pain every single day. Yoga helps me realign myself and provides strength to my weakest spots.
I guess you could almost call it a form of meditation. It's soothing to take half an hour and think of nothing but where your foot is meant to be and follow the various mantras set at the beginning of each practice. Through yoga, I have learnt to focus, relax, respect and surrender.
It Feels Good
I start each practice tensed up from my day and I end it having cracked out all the joints that need releasing and stretching out all the limbs and muscles all over my body. It's really, really good.
Mental Health Improvements
Kind of along the lines of relaxation, yoga has helped me learn to let go. I've noticed positive changes in my thinking, my attitude and my general well-being. Coming from someone who struggled with positivity, this is a huge milestone. The gym and the eating has probably helped with this too, but I end my practices full of better vibes than I started with.
Calming End to My Day
On the weekends I like to do my practice in the mornings as I only go to the gym on weekdays, but the rest of the week it's an evening ritual. And it's a very calming way to end my crazy days. It slows down my mind and my heart and prepares me for bed.
You get to momentarily forget about all your responsibilities, and then when you're done you are able to tackle these responsibilities in a strong and capable manner rather than being overwhelmed and wanting to do nothing more than cry and sleep.
In this world where we are so constantly attached to the virtual world that lies beyond our immediate vicinity, we need every chance we can get to switch off and appreciate what is right here right now. Yoga makes me incredibly aware of everything going on in my body as I am there on the mat and I try to take that through the rest of my day.
It Makes Me Happy
And if it makes me happy, then I have every reason to continue.