After each yoga class I always practice savasana; a complete state of relaxation. It’s simple to do: just lay on your back, palms facing the ceiling and legs relaxed. I love it because it enables me to completely let go after a difficult workout, to reevaluate why I come to my mat and what the practice has given me that day. The pose helps you become aware of your breath, your thoughts, and the hard work you’ve just accomplished. To me it also becomes an appreciation to myself. I think of it as my body saying to my mind – thank you for making it here, thank you for taking care of me and thank you for trying.
I guess I’m telling you all of this because yoga has absolutely changed my life. There were times over the past few years where I’ve felt completely lost. I was unsure what I wanted to do with my life, my direction or my path. I didn’t know if I’d ever make it. I didn’t know if I’d find a job that I loved or if my passion would ever redeem success. As someone with an extremely creative mind, at times I have high anxiety, am easily distracted, and have a high drive for success. While the last can seem like a great quality to have, it can also be hindering.
It’s often hard for me to quiet my mind or to not worry about the future. I crave security, yet become easily bored when my life is too comfortable. When I was really having trouble focusing or deeply concerned with my weight, career or the future, I did yoga. I took deep breaths. I appreciated more things. I lived for the day, not for the future. I became okay.
For some who don’t practice yoga, it’s hard to understand how a practice can really change your life. But here’s how it has profoundly changed mine:
1) It helped me through grief. My father suddenly passed away when I was 18 years old. It was two days before I was supposed to leave for college and I always felt like I was never given the proper place to feel… well, everything I was feeling. I was angry, sad and heart-broken. Being at college without any familiar faces to talk to was incredibly difficult so I stuffed all of my feelings inside. I fled the reality of losing my Dad and desperately feared loss. But after I started practicing yoga, I was able to get a better handle on my emotions; it was as though Yoga had this healing power over me and became an exercise of self-compassion. Each class I thought about my Dad or any stressful situation and praciticed the art of letting it go. Finally I was able to find myself at peace with it.
2) It taught me independence. Granted I’ve always been pretty independent, but yoga really taught me how to put myself first. As in, I needed to be able to accept and love myself before I could offer that to anyone else. I wasn’t afraid to be different from everyone else. I put my body and mind first knowing that it gave me a better sense of compassion, understanding and acceptance of others.
3) It’s not just a workout. I used to believe that Yoga was simply a workout that made you really flexible. Turns out I was completely wrong; Yoga isn’t just a terrific workout but it also teaches you to work on yourself both inside and out. Who cares if you’re not flexible enough to climb into a certain pose? Yoga isn’t just about achieving perfection; it’s the fact that your trying to do better AND be better. Your making yourself better each time you step onto your mat; your practicing awareness of your body, mind and soul (and others).
So if you’re ever in doubt or experiencing loss, or even if you’re just searching for some sort of answer, go to yoga. It will comfort you when you are in need of meaning and guidance.
Question: Do you practice yoga? If so, what do you feel that it’s personally taught you? If not, why don’t you practice yoga?
I hope you guys are loving Wellness Wednesdays! I’d love to know what topics you’d like to be discussed or if there’s anything specific you’d like to see. xoxo!