I can’t even begin to count how many times someone has suggested to me that I incorporate yoga into my fitness routine. For some reason, I just couldn’t get my mind around it. All people do in yoga is learn how to contort themselves into weird pretzel shapes and practice breathing, right? Well apparently not. I finally caved and went to my first yoga class and I admit that it kicked my butt! Being consistently aware of what every part of your body is doing and moving slowly between poses is a lot of work. By the end of the class my arms were shaking and my legs felt like noodles. I haven’t scoffed at yoga since.
I left class with my tail between my legs and went home to nurse my pride. I’ve always been fairly competitive by nature so I couldn’t help but feel a little less than adequate when I looked around at others in the class. Having decided that I was going to go back and somehow “triumph” over yoga, I did what I always do and began researching the obstacles ahead. If you know anything about yoga, you won’t be surprised to know that I didn’t find what I thought I would. Instead of tips and tricks on how to become the best at yoga, I found something entirely different.
Yoga is more than Physical
The first thing I came to realize is how much more there is to yoga than the physical aspects of it. Yoga brings awareness to your entire being, physical, mental, and spiritual. Yoga philosophy is a very in depth study of the discipline of the mind and the purity of the health and body. The strangest concept for me to wrap my mind around was that yoga is noncompetitive. It is about connecting your own mind and body and really doesn’t have anything to do with what the people around you are able to accomplish. It’s about realizing that you are exactly where you need to be and living in the moment. This is a far different approach to life than anything I’ve experienced before. There’s nothing wrong with pushing yourself and testing your limits when it comes to fitness, but yoga will help you learn to love yourself and appreciate where you already are. Talk about deep!
Yoga is Athletic
After spending what was probably hours poring through yoga philosophy, I moved on to more familiar territory. I couldn’t believe all of the health benefits that have been associated with yoga! Yoga poses improve your entire cardiovascular system which can’t mean anything other than good news for your heart. When doing yoga poses, your muscles tone and blood moves throughout your body helping to clear arteries and remove toxins from your system. While there is no absolute research concluding that yoga reduces heart disease, a consistent yoga practice is known to reduce stress which can help to lower the chances of heart complications. Not to mention, yoga improves your flexibility which reduces your risk of injury when taking part in other physical activities and helps to increase your physical endurance.
Since having read into yoga a bit, I have gone to a few more classes and I am officially a believer now. Even though I am a far cry from the “best” out there, yoga has enhanced my other workouts and has helped to bring me a certain sense of piece that I seem to always find when I am on the mat.