Hey everyone! If you have been keeping up with the “Fitness and Self-Care” section of my blog, you may remember my post about doing yoga every day for one month. Well, I have continued to incorporate yoga into each and every day since April! Earlier this year, I told myself that I would try to find a new form of exercise, and I am happy to say that I did just that!
As many of you may be aware, I have been weight training for almost five years now. That journey has taken a bit of a turn this year due to COVID-19. My gym closed down sometime in March, and it opened back up in September. I have not gone back because I do not think that I would feel safe to do so just yet. Plus, a gym is probably one of the worst places to be during a pandemic, so I have chosen to continue with my at-home workouts for now. This year, I would say that yoga has become my go-to form of exercise. Though I have continued with weight training, I have not been doing this as frequently.
Initially, I was not incredibly interested in trying out yoga. I remember doing it once quite a few years back but I never stuck with it because I felt that it was “boring”. Things have definitely changed since then. I have been using a program that includes a variety of workout videos, ranging from strength training to yoga. Although I haven’t tried any of the other workouts besides yoga, I plan to do so one day.
I originally thought that only flexible people could do yoga. I did not think that yoga would be considered a workout either. I thought it would be very relaxing 100% of the time (I was definitely wrong about that). I was also not aware of the many benefits that yoga can have on the mind, body, and soul.
I believe that when some people think of yoga, they think of a very hippie-ish way of living, and they even write it off as silly. I think that these people have most likely never tried yoga. In reality, yoga can be intense, challenging, and rewarding in more ways than one. Not only can yoga change your body and appearance, but it can change your entire mindset too.
Some of the physical benefits of yoga include: increased flexibility, weight reduction, improved respiration, and increased muscle strength. Some of the emotional/mental benefits include: an increase in body awareness, relieves stress, sharpens attention, and calms the nervous system. For me, working out has always been an escape from everyday stress. As someone who tends to be very anxious and a bit of a worrier at times, working out has always allowed me to simply focus on me and my body, and it has given me a goal to work toward. Time for yourself is so important, and if using that time involves staying healthy and active, that is even better!
I also wanted to discuss the benefits that I have noticed personally from doing yoga for six months. First, I realized that yoga was helping me to relax and de-stress. This was exactly what I needed, and still do! I tend to hold tension in my shoulders and in my jaw, but now, I can more easily recognize when I am doing this. I can relax my jaw and drop my shoulders and simply focus on my breathing. Also, I am much more aware of my posture. I feel that I’ve always had pretty good posture, but yoga has made this even better. When I am sitting down to do my schoolwork or if I find that I am tilting my neck downward a lot, I try to use books or something tall for my laptop to sit on so that it is more eye-level, and I am not hunching over.
I feel that I am a much more relaxed person. I do not get stressed as easily anymore, and I am much more aware of negative thoughts. If I notice that I am starting to worry or stress about something, I can recognize this and turn those thoughts off rather than letting them take over. I feel that I am much more aware of my thought processes, and I know what is going to help me and what is going to hurt me. I have been practicing mindfulness a lot lately, and it has changed everything. I feel that I have much more control over my mind, and I can lead a happier and more positive life because of it.
I have also noticed that my body is much more toned. Yoga is a full-body workout, and I was not really aware of this in the beginning. It is not just about working your core, it is about working your entire body. I guess I didn’t think I would see changes to my body unless I was using weights or doing cardio, but yoga has changed my appearance. When weight training was what my workouts truly consisted of, my body did look different. I had more muscle and although I did tone up from weight training (and cardio), I feel that I have noticed it a bit more with yoga. Granted, my appetite is different when I am weight training 5-6 times a week vs doing yoga every day. The human body is truly incredible, and it has the ability to change very often throughout life. The choices we make matter, and the food that we put into our bodies as well as the way that we stay active matters. All of it can affect the way that we look and feel. Working out was never really about looking good for me (that is a bonus that comes from it). The way that it makes me feel is why I truly continue to do it.
Lastly, I feel that I have gained flexibility. I have surprised myself many times during my yoga practices. In poses such as downward dog, I can straighten my legs quite a bit, and when I do wide legged folds, or just folding in general, I can get pretty low and deep. When I first started yoga, I was not the most flexible, so it has been exciting to notice my growth! In the beginning, I struggled to keep my balance as well. Eagle pose and warrior III were especially frustrating. Now, I can stay in these poses a little bit longer without toppling over (of course, this does still happen some days). I am able to keep up with practices that are faster paced, and for the most part, I do not have to modify the poses. I never really took much time to stretch before or after workouts and even in general, so this is something I have been doing a lot more of now. Yoga has allowed me to focus on stretching, flexibility, strength, and endurance.
It is so crazy to think that I began doing yoga six months ago, and I have never skipped one day. I have always been very determined, but I honestly didn’t think that I would enjoy yoga. Once something becomes a part of your daily routine, it is so much easier to do. Even on the days when I am very busy or I simply don’t feel like doing it, I get it done because I know how it will benefit me overall.
I really hope you enjoyed today’s post! What are your thoughts on yoga or mindfulness? Have you ever tried yoga before? I would love to know! Thank you so much for reading!