Everyone tells you that you should do yoga. I remember first getting into it, amateurly I admit, when I was around 15 years old. Of course, I did not practice it as religiously as I should have, but it was always in the back of my mind. I had the aspirations to be one of those inspirational yoga chicks that every young girl tries to emulate and every young (and old) man wants to take out to dinner. I wouldn’t say I am exactly that person now, but I am edging closer and closer to it. In this quest to understand yoga more and myself more, I see that the ideal that I was placing on a pedestal comes from within. The reason why I admired these yogis was because of their radiating acceptance and ease in the world. That I can say, I am embodying now. There really are countless benefits to yoga and the type of benefits will vary from person to person. I must share what has happened to me since dedicating time each day to my yoga practice. Some of the things that have manifested in my life I would have never attributed to yoga, yet here we are! You don’t need to look amazing in yoga pants or be able to scratch your head with your feet to join the club. Below are the great things that have happened to me since committing to the namaste way! ?️
I’M MORE FIT
This one is kinda what most of us want/expect when it comes to yoga. We think that hot sweaty exercise each day will give us the body we have always dreamed of and yoga is the sexy way to sweat. This is true. The poses are so graceful and serene when you see them in photos, but it takes an enormous amount of strength and patience to cultivate them. The way I became more fit with yoga was by stopping the thought process of only doing it to get fit. I removed the dictator in my head that ordered me to exercise each day and instead replaced it with a nurturing voice. I looked at my yoga time as me time and it changed my attitude moving forward. I no longer dreaded the poses that physically challenged me. I saw each difficulty as an opportunity to get closer to myself. I noticed that the quieter my mind got the better my agility was. It was all in my head. Yoga challenged me to forget about my previous ideas toward myself. This was a big deal. What makes yoga so cool is that you cannot get better physically until you address what is going on mentally. There are no shortcuts. The mat turns into your therapist. Tears of joy or pain drip from your forehead instead of your eyes. Before you know it, the person staring back at you in the mirror is the person you envisioned in your head.
I FIGHT LESS
Listen, I can spit venom with the rest of them. I’m not proud of it, but I’m not denying either. I developed a skill at being combative when the situation calls for it and unfortunately, also when it doesn’t. Keeping this warrior mentality isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is not always needed. Yoga has taught me patience with myself and others. I no longer jump to as many conclusions as I did before, nor expect that I am being challenged at every turn by everyone. I can relax a little. I practice discernment while picking my battles. Things don’t bother me as much. I carefully choose my words when I am offended or upset- this is huge. I used to be the person that could insult you a mile a minute and all I would need is for you to look at me the wrong way. Now, I don’t care. Don’t get me wrong, I still have that fire and know how to use it, but yoga has helped me figure out when to use it. I don’t get into nearly as many tiffs as I once did which has improved my relationships. I have learned how to listen.
I’M MORE FLEXIBLE
Physically and mentally. I have this ability to now contort my point of view alongside my body. I have loosened the tight grip that I held onto certain beliefs with. Also, I can do a yogi squat with no problem! Allowing outside influence to affect me in a positive way is what yoga opened the door for. I have this wonderful feeling that I am an eternal student, that I will never know everything. This gives way to remaining open to anything! Sure, it’s great that I can do the splits and crow pose, but embracing the days that my mind and body are not in alignment is crucial. I am easier on myself and go with the flow. Some people have this talent naturally, I have to work on it because of my personality. I am the type A that needs to adhere to my inner rulebook. I still do, I just changed the rules. Some of them now include forgiveness, compassion and acceptance.
I HAVE MORE ENERGY
I never believed people when they said that exercise would give you more energy. I always thought of how exhausted I was after a workout and concluded that those people were crazy. I was wrong. Bringing regular yoga to my life has elevated my mood which has effected my energy. I try to incorporate as much as I can in each day and have excitement to do all the things on my checklist. It’s weird, I have this guilty feeling when I waste time. I mean, I let myself relax, but if I know in my heart that I should be doing something else, it’s impossible for me to silence that inner voice. My inner child always wants to play and my circadian rhythm is in harmony with the sun. I wake up in the morning and WAKE UP! I don’t feel the need to hit snooze or dread my day. Of course I still drink coffee, but I know that my lasting energy is a result of active participation in my mind and body. I get more done which leaves me feeling satisfied with myself. Thank you yoga!
I EAT BETTER
Have you ever tried to be still in downward dog after eating a bowl full of pasta alongside countless other carbs? Its a recipe for vomit my friend. Due to the constant twisting and turning and bending and breathing, I have to be smart about what I digest because it shows up on the mat. Food really is fuel and medicine. If I don’t eat things that provide nutrients I lack the wherewithal to practice yoga properly. I can easily become tired, lethargic, and angry if I do not pay attention to my diet. Certain foods sit in my stomach heavier and when I do inversions it can be hell. Eating the wrong food diminishes all the work I previously put into my practice so its not worth it. Committing to yoga makes me so much more aware of my daily decisions, especially when it comes to food. At this point, I eat once a day right in the middle of the day. Sometimes I will have a shake in the evening, but that’s it. I eat such a big meal that it literally makes me repelled by food until the next day. Works like a charm! I no longer look at eating as a hobby. Amazing!
I CRAVE MOVEMENT
I notice that if I am in a bad mood and then I decide to change my state physically, it changes my state mentally. I’m at a point now that if I do no physical activity for a whole day, I get depressed. Something feels off. I crave movement. Honestly, it has become my saving grace. The idea that your emotions get stored away in your body is SO TRUE! As soon as I get up and out, everything changes. Daily yoga practice allowed me to grow this habit. It is a non-negotiable part of my day, like showering or brushing my teeth. I do a lot of other physical activity as well, but my yoga is my constant. It takes 21 days to make or break a habit and that is something that proves true in my life time and time again. Doing yoga everyday has taught me that it is not a chore, but a treat!
I’M MORE GRATEFUL
This one is almost a given. I have more awareness of what I have been blessed with in my life like my family, friends, etc. but I have found gratitude in just having each moment. You see it all over the place with people saying to be happy for the present and all of that. Before, I would openly mock those people who were optimistic and content with their lot in life because I was functioning from a famine mentality and not feast. I was so concerned with what I didn’t have and what I wanted that I did not appreciate what I was already given. Yoga has helped me understand that I do have everything I need for the moment I am in or else I would not have made it to this moment. Shifting my focus to gratitude dramatically alters the course of my day and keeps me focused on what matters. My heart goes out to the people that can’t seem to shake the negativity that burdens their days. I know that struggle. It’s almost as if to be negative is to be intelligent. That’s what most pessimistics will say. They claim to be realists and grounded. I’m sorry, but I am super grounded and not a grouch. Trust me, I have had several unsatisfactory things occur in my life, but that does not negate the fact that good things have transpired as well. Yoga helps me realize that the good will always outweigh the bad.
I LIKE MYSELF MORE
Like most, I too am a work in progress. Some days I can’t stop looking in the mirror and other days I want to stay under the covers in bed. I’m not perfect. The consistent work on my mat has given me a new admiration for myself. Not in a braggy way, but in a genuine, Wow I really can do this way. I keep surprising myself with the things I am able to accomplish and the improvement I feel each day. I like myself. I am turning into someone I would like to be friends with. I used to despise the skin I was in and pray that I could trade spots with anyone else. There was a chronic low self-esteem that I faced each day that felt inescapable. I am earning my self esteem now. I have more patience with myself and my short comings and have learned how to love what I don’t like. The imperfections are what makes the package perfect.
I HAVE FAITH IN THE FUTURE
I know that I will manifest the life that I see in my head. Each day I see more and more progress. Yoga gives me the quiet time to crystalize my visions for the future so I can pursue them with discretion and clarity. If I did not start my yoga practice I would not have the faith in knowing that all good things can happen, they just take time. I am not where I want to be in my life at the moment, but that does not mean it is not on the way. I look back 6 months ago, 1 year ago, 2 years ago, and I see the major moves and changes that have occurred so I know that there are many more to come. Yoga taught me to trust my instincts and that if I do, what is supposed to happen will happen.