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The Wonders of Yoga

Recently, my friend Alli asked me to describe what yoga means to me, and I found myself at a loss for words. Yoga is often viewed simply as a form of exercise, but yoga is much more than just a workout. While it definitely can enhance physical fitness, its true essence encompasses a deeper, more holistic and spiritual practice.



When I first started practicing yoga, I remember thinking, “People stretching, what’s the big deal?” Little did I know that this practice would change my life in the most unexpected ways.

 

Yoga is hard to explain.

 

I could talk about the mental benefits of yoga, how this practice has the uncanny ability to clear your mind of negative thoughts and lift your worries when you need it, or how in the next breath it can inspire and motivate you to come to that epiphany you’ve been searching for.

 

I could talk about the physical benefits of yoga, that it’s not just about flexibility but about toning your muscles and strengthening your core, improving your balance, reducing back pain, supporting posture, etc.

 

I could talk about the adaptability, how there are yoga classes of every style, shape, and length for every body and every intention.

 

But after twenty-seven years of showing up to my yoga mat, I can easily say that some of my greatest life lessons have come from practicing yoga. Here are a few:

 

1.        Despite what people think, I don’t always want to practice yoga (but I end up feeling great when I do). On those days, I’m reminded that showing up is the most important part, whether I’m showing up to yoga, or showing for my children, for myself.

2.        Sometimes, my yoga practice feels unnecessarily hard; I’m stuck in chair pose until my leg burns, the teacher adds “one more” core routine, I can’t concentrate or everything feels so slow… On those days I remember that being uncomfortable builds is a part of life. Being comfortable with a little discomfort builds resilience.

3.        Often, my yoga practice is only breathwork and meditation, my physical body never moving out of savasana, and yet I feel renewed and energized when I’m finished—those days remind me to listen to my body and not what I’m “supposed” to do.

4.        Occasionally, I get frustrated because the pose I used to love no longer feels good to me. When this happens, yoga reminds me to set aside my expectations and (self) judgements and focus on the present. Life is not about holding onto the past, or anguishing about the future—it is about meeting myself in this very moment.

 

So what does yoga mean to me? A little of everything.

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