I <3 Yoga!

I ❤ Yoga!

For me, yoga is where fitness began. I lost 35 pounds about 11 years ago without exercise. Once I reached my goal weight, it became very evident that I would have to start incorporating some kind of exercise. Like most, I leaned towards an activity I figured I’d be good at! I’d danced for years growing up and was certain I was still flexible enough for yoga. And so my journey began! I’ve loved yoga ever since and at this time, my perspective regarding yoga has almost completely changed. Where I used to view yoga as a workout, I now see yoga as my recovery; how I fix my body after all of my actual workouts. Yoga is a beautiful practice and I believe it belongs in nearly everyone’s fitness regimen. Let me explain why…

1. Shift in Attitude– Incredibly, the most noticeable life improvement from yoga has nothing to do with fitness! The practice of yoga teaches that we are all on our own very different, yet very similar, paths. The instructors focus on non-judgment and encourage you not to compare yourself to anyone else in the class. This has been quite the breakthrough for me. I am competitive by nature and usually strive to be the best at everything I do. Now, I understand that our bodies are all so different! Some bodies effortlessly fall into the perfect posture, while other bodies are built differently and may need years of practice to hit a certain pose correctly. In addition, the yoga instructor directs you to honor yourself and the others around you, creating a wonderful community. This is the essence of the term, Namaste, and I have come to find that one word so absolutely beautiful.

2. Peace and Solitude– There’s almost nothing that beats out yoga as far as peace is concerned. I find outer peace, as well as inner peace whenever I practice at home or attend a class. There can be a room packed with sweaty yogis and yet, I get into such a meditative zone that I feel I am all by myself, which is a sense I crave from time to time. At the beginning when I first began practicing, I would only reach this state of total peace at the end of class when we went into corpse, or relaxation, pose. Now though, I can reach inner peace and solitude midway, or even at the beginning of class. When you have that laser focus on the pose you’re attempting, you barely remember there are others around you aiming for the same thing. This goes back to my previous point about not comparing myself to others. The only way I can reach this peaceful state is by forgetting that there are others around me who may be stretching farther or balancing longer.

3. Flexibility and Restoration– I recently had someone write to me that they were not flexible enough for yoga!?! My reply was that this is precisely why you need yoga! 🙂 Progressing one’s flexibility and restoring the body is perhaps the most obvious and well-known reason for partaking in yoga. Luckily, flexibility was never much of an issue for me. I remember doing the “sit and reach” in elementary school and scoring off the charts. However, seeing yoga as a form of restoration was not how I originally viewed the practice. At first, it was my workout! In the early days, power yoga allowed me to build my strength, especially for my upper body. I certainly would not be able to do all of the push-ups and pull-ups I can do now if it hadn’t been for my foundation of yoga. Currently, yoga plays the role of stretching and restoration, so that I can perform all of the moves that running and strength training require. It is not my main focus in my exercise routine, but it is a critical part. I notice when I’m neglecting my yoga practice…big time!

Yoga is a practice that can benefit everyone. Yoga even improves confidence, which I have found far too many people lack. There are SO many different types—really something for everyone. I look forward to adding the title of yoga instructor to my Health Coaching business one day. In the meantime, I’m going to keep stretching, breathing, and “Namaste-ing” with the rest of my yogi friends in order to improve, but never necessarily to perfect my technique. Because after perfection, I’m not sure what comes next!

Are you absolutely in love with yoga? I’d love to read about your experience! Post below!

May you live in harmonious health!

Steph 🙂

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