Updated: Nov 30, 2019
I know what you’re thinking: “It’s just another one of the latest fads” or “I don’t want to be a hippie”. Give me about 3 more minutes and we may be having a different conversation. Here’s the thing: yoga is so much more than the physical postures, or asana in Yogi terms. Yoga literally translates to union; it’s the path to self discovery and that definition alone brings me to the first reason why you should be practicing yoga:
We live in a society that numbs.
Today we’ve conditioned our muscle memory to inattentively unlock our phones, slide to the right and click the top left corner for the Instagram app when in reality the reason we opened our phone was for the calculator. We fear missing out (FOMO) over being present with our current company so much that we’re glued to social media and constantly checking in with our followers. We are so infatuated with what the rest of the world is doing that we are left disconnected from ourselves. Yoga teaches you to, at the minimum, spend sixty minutes focused on and exploring yourself. Yoga teaches you to feel your body, to engage your breath while connecting it to movement, and to acknowledge what is happening in the given moment.
It’s a good compliment to your preferred exercise.
I get it, yoga isn’t everyone’s jam. In lieu of begging you to love it, because I know I don’t have to as yoga will do that all on its own, I’ll suggest you incorporate the practice into your current routine. Yoga is a great companion to your weight lifting sessions. Weight lifting isolates certain muscles or a muscle group. Adding yoga where you’re holding poses for several minutes and again later on in class promotes muscle endurance. And if weightlifting isn’t your preferred source of exercise, just know that I’ve done yoga next to a few players on The Dallas Cowboys football team. And why? Because...
Doctor’s prescribe it.
The health benefits are out of this world and carry on well after the class is finished. Physically, yoga’s benefits span an extensive list ranging from injury prevention, digestion, improved posture from stabilizing and strengthening core and back muscles (yes you heard that right, desk job workers), increased blood circulation, insomnia, fitness (hello muscles you didn’t know you had), and stretching. But we shall never forget the incredible mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits either. Mentally, you’ll find new strength as you push through poses that literally burn. Emotionally, you’ll learn to breathe and practice humility through the stress of physical movement. You’ll become more aware, grateful, and in tune with yourself cultivating a practice taken off of your mat into the outside world that never fails to throw stressors your way. It’s a spiritual experience that leaves you feeling empowered. Having worked at several studios now, my first question to new students is always, “what brought you in?” The amount of times I’ve heard “my doctor told me to come” leaves me needing some serious wrinkle cream for the cheesy grin plastered to my face. And why wouldn’t they, with benefits that cover every aspect of your health?
Yoga is the greatest teacher I’ve ever had.
I’ve had some phenomenal teachers in my life (shoutout to you, Mr. Mercer!). However nothing has taught me more than the practice of yoga. As someone very fond of having control, it doesn’t take much convincing to get my exercise in. However, when challenged with a pose that you want to nail or one you’re working on, yoga knocks you back down a notch. Yoga teaches you that surrender is an art, and one of the most beautiful ones at that.
Yoga has changed my life, in which another writing on this topic could really get me In My Feelings and you’ll be asking, “Keke, do you love me?” Although, I digress. If you’re curious about your next step from here, my first recommendation is to search for local studios. Try different types of yoga, different studios, and different teachers. Don’t judge it by one class alone. I wouldn’t be writing this article if I’d have done that.
And if you’re very new to yoga, follow @4youhealthcoaching on Instagram for videos and “how to’s” from the comfort of your own home. Namaste, folks. I’ll see you on your mat. Originally seen on Step Up Magazine.