Yoga

This morning I didn’t want to get out of bed. It was rainy and cold and I knew I had a long day of work ahead of me. It took a significant amount of time and quite a few mental pep talks, but eventually I got up, made breakfast, and went to the studio.

I started doing yoga a year and a half ago (wow so long ago!), beginning in January 2016. In this time, I have been able to feel myself grow so much. Yoga has improved my life in too many ways to count, and this is my little appreciation post.

Yoga is not about being flexible, or strong. It’s not about the poses, or even the breath, though these are all important aspects of a practice. Yoga is about creating space in your mind and in your body. It’s not a performance, it’s a practice. It’s showing up and trying your best no matter how you feel.

It’s something you can do when you’re tired and sick and injured. Especially then – that’s when you really need to listen to your body. Yoga is a practice that you can modify according to what your mind and body need that hour, that day.

Yoga is challenging. There are poses that require specific muscle groups that you don’t have when you start, that you have to work towards. Many poses you can’t do at first, or can’t do properly. There are still poses I thought I understood which I was actually doing wrong – I was muscling through when I should have been breathing into it.

There is plenty of tightness and aches in my body. Yoga doesn’t stop the pain; instead, it allows you to grow from it. To create a space where you can be comfortable in spite of the physical pain you feel. The mental practice does the exact same thing. It doesn’t change the way the world is: all the bad parts of the world still exist; you are the same person in the same circumstances before and after your practice. Yoga allows you to create a headspace where you approach your situation with love. This is what makes all the difference.

I grew up doing all sorts of competitive sports: gymnastics, soccer, track & field; yoga is the only physical activity I’ve done that has no external purpose: it’s just for me. It makes my experiences more positive, my days better: it allows me to become a more positive person. It makes me stronger and fitter, to create space in my body, but much more importantly, to create space in my mind. Having the time to focus on my breathing, my body, the moment clears my head. I’m able to focus on what’s important during my practice, and it carries through to the rest of the day.

I have the most incredibly loving and supportive teacher, who always encourages us to listen to our bodies. Who pushes me because she believes in me, who teaches me how to make myself better. Who really loves me. It’s the most incredible thing to start every day seeing her and listening to my body, breathing and moving and creating space.

If you’ve never tried yoga, definitely do. It doesn’t matter if you’re good or not, if you’re able to do the poses all the way. Just be there, breathe, and create space within yourself to grow. That is yoga, and that has changed my life more than I can express.

 

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