Monday, January 12, 2015

5 Reasons to Stick with Your "Practice Yoga" New Year's Resolution This Year

I've read a lot of New Year's resolutions posts on various blogs over the last couple of weeks, and I've noticed that a lot of people (myself included) had "practice yoga" somewhere on that list.

I'm not going to claim that I'm a yoga expert (I'm not at all), but as someone who has been taking classes regularly for almost a year now, I feel like I'm at least qualified to explain why I think it's so great and why this is one resolution you should really try to stick with.

I briefly considered asking Eric to take a few pictures of me in various yoga poses for this post, but decided against it.  Maybe one day I won't feel stupid doing something like that, but today is just not that day.  Image provided by Unsplash ( and edited by me.

1.  The poses can be easily modified.  All good instructors will urge you to listen to your body and choose the level of difficulty that's right for you that day.  And it really can vary from class to class (especially if you also lift weights, run, etc.).  Modifications are also great for beginners.  There were certain things I didn't feel comfortable trying when I first started practicing yoga that I can easily do now.  It really just takes time and practice (and knowing what your body can handle).  I've regained a lot of strength and flexibility I once had (I used take dance and gymnastics classes when I was younger), but it didn't happen overnight.

2.  It's not competitive.  The point of yoga isn't to be "the best" ... The point is to be "your best."  I'm a pretty competitive person in general, but I've never been an amazing athlete.  Knowing that I can go to a yoga class and work on bettering myself without the fear of being judged is awesome.

3.  It can improve your concentration.  I, like many other people my age, can easily get distracted.  Most of the time it's not a huge deal, but sometimes I just really want to finish something without interruptions.  Over the last few months, I've started to really notice a change in myself.  I can more easily stay focused on the task at hand and, if there are interruptions, I can settle back into my work without wasting a lot of time trying to figure out where I was.  It just seems to come more naturally these days, and it's something I can really appreciate.

4.  Yoga is a great way to rid yourself of some of your stress and anxiety.  The breathing alone is soothing, but I think everything kind of works together to rid your body of stress, anxiety, and muscle tension.  I always feel so light after class.  I don't really know how else to describe it ... It's as though I don't have a care in the world.  It's an amazing feeling!  I will also say that while I'm not completely stress and anxiety free, I've definitely noticed small differences in the way I feel in certain situations.  My stomach doesn't always tighten into a million tiny knots and my heart doesn't always race whenever I'm faced with something that would normally send me into a state of panic.  Yes, that still happens on occasion, but it's much less frequent than it used to be.

5.  It helps you clear your mind.  This is so important for me because I'm one of those people who just can't shut it all off.  I have a lot of trouble sleeping because my brain just won't stop going ... I basically just have to stay awake until I physically can't hold my eyes open any longer.  Since I started doing yoga, though, I've noticed that it's at least a little easier to get to sleep on the nights I go to class.  It could all be in my head, but if I've managed to successfully meditate in class (and by successfully, I mean that I was able to completely rid my mind of all thoughts for at least 5-10 minutes at the end of class), I can usually fall asleep at a decent hour and feel well rested the next morning.

There are so many benefits that come with practicing yoga ... These are just some of the things that immediately came to mind.

While I'd like to say that I love to exercise, that's only partially true.  I love the way I feel after a great workout, and I definitely love seeing results ... But sometimes it's a struggle to actually get myself to the gym.  When it comes to yoga classes, though, I actually want to go.  I look forward to the classes all day, which isn't something I can say about my BodyPump class or just going to the gym to walk/jog on the treadmill.  Yoga is both challenging and fun, and, while I know it probably isn't for everyone, I definitely think men and women of all ages can benefit from it.

If you don't believe me, I'll leave you with this: two of my instructors are between the ages of 55 and 60 and they're in amazing shape.  I find that incredibly inspiring.

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