I’ve done yoga irregularly since my freshman year of high school when it was an option in my first period P.E. class. I was probably one of the only 14-year-olds who took the early morning class in the wresting room (ick!) seriously. As a gymnast and a dancer, I’ve always enjoyed stretching and increasing the flexibility of my naturally stiff body. Since high school, I’ve done yoga here and there, but being busy with academics and athletics, I was never able to practice regularly. Not to mention, yoga isn’t a cheap activity.
It wasn’t until this spring semester that yoga found its way into a regular part of my life via “free” classes at the WREC. I’ve taken 30 (60-minute) yoga classes since January 30, 2011. I did not anticipate this yoga “addiction”, but as I attended one class after the other, I could feel the difference… and I’m not just talking about the added strength and flexibility.
I’ve always used exercise – mainly running – as “therapy”. My mind is a busy one, and running has gotten me through the harder times in my life, as I simply put one foot in front of the other. Running organizes my mind, while yoga calms my mind. This is not to say that during a single 60-minute class, I don’t have 1,000 thoughts float in and out of my head; though as I’ve continued to practice, my extraneous thoughts are not as abundant and loud.
When I do find my mind drifting to life outside of the yoga studio, I’ll say the mantra:
BE HERE NOW.
These three short words are incredible in how they allow me to focus on the present – not the article I have to write for my journalism class, not what I have in my fridge to make for dinner, not about life two weeks in the future – but now:
my body on the sticky, tangerine mat, reaching my hands strongly in the air as I “salute the sun”; making my chaturanga as strong and effortless as possible; just the present; being able to move my body just so; trying not to get frustrated when I can’t twist as much as the student beside me, but noticing the improvement I have made as I hold Crow a few seconds longer or extend further into the full Bird of Paradise.
As I started noticing the incredible benefits – mentally (and physically) – of consistent practice, yoga immediately gained priority on my to-do list.
Thank you, yoga for:
decreasing my anxiety & reducing stress
my relaxed shoulders
my stronger core
my toned arms
my slow, steady breaths
my calm(er) mind
The style of yoga I’ve been practicing this semester is vinyasa flow. A few of my favorite poses include: chaturanga/upward-facing dog, crescent moon lunge, pigeon, and of course savasana.
Although I am interested in trying the many other styles of yoga, the flow of poses smoothly running from one to the other in vinyasa remind me of the dance classes from my youth that I greatly miss.
I am more than excited to roll out my mat again and again, to try new poses, to deepen my breaths, and to strengthen my mind-body relationship.
Of Possible Interest:
- Find the Right Yoga For You via Self Magazine
- How To Do a Sun Salutation via Self Magazine
- Yoga For Your Abs via Self Magazine
- The Best Yoga Poses for You via Women’s Health Magazine
- The Yoga Body Diet
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Do you practice yoga? If so, what style?
What are your favorite poses?
If you’re a seasoned yogi, do you have any tips?