Some say that I’m a yoga junkie. I am a yogi who savors every class, even when sometimes I want to cry or throw up or run out of the room while I’m practicing. I’ve been doing Bikram Yoga for almost 10 years now and I must say, while the poses get a little easier, the 90 minutes of sweat and exertion are always extremely challenging.
If you are reading this and you also practice some form of yoga, then you will completely understand. Others may look at my prose and not get it. Why do yoga? Why spend so much time stretching and sweating and bending?
Yoga seems like it’s quite popular now. Many celebrities like George Clooney, Gwyneth Paltrow, Gisele Bundchen, Adam Levine, Matthew McConaughey, Madonna and Jennifer Aniston are touting yoga for its body toning benefits. But there are many other very good reasons to practice yoga regularly.
The word ‘yoga’ means union in Sanskrit (the ancient language of India) because yoga unites the mind, body and breath. I’ve found that in the yoga studio, when I am concentrating on my breath, I think of nothing else. I am completely in the moment. And that is when the mental benefits peak. My body has completely changed over the last 9 years because of my yoga practice, but that isn’t what keeps me going back. When I leave that room I feel cleansed, rested, relaxed and ready to give my best to the outside world.
From the Huffington Post: “Just 20 minutes of yoga could help your brain function better, according to a small new study. Researchers found that people did better – both in speed and accuracy-wise – on brain functioning tests after just 20 minutes of Hatha yoga, compared with aerobic exercise.”
In addition to all of the physical and mental benefits, yoga instructors are among the most spiritually enlightened people that I have come in contact with. Their words often stay with me long after the class. They teach me things about myself that transcend way beyond how to get deeper into a pose. For instance, last night at a particularly weak moment for me in class, Molly, the instructor, said in her soft, angelic voice, “Joy comes from 100% participation in whatever you are doing right now.” And I have been thinking about how true that is ever since class last night.
I walk out of most yoga classes in a state of exhausted bliss; tired but energized in an inexplicable way. Yoga helps me focus and keeps me calm. Outside of class, I can be there for the kids and I can juggle more tasks. My body feels better (less aches and pains) and I sleep better when I take class regularly. If you aren’t practicing yoga, I’d highly recommend adding it into your busy, stressful life.
Let me know how it goes, study buddies. And in the meantime, Namaste.