My roommate and I tossed a coin to decide who would get the room with the biggest window. I won. Then I stole/”borrowed” her yoga mat and so I could practice yoga in front of that window everyday. But I promise, I really do love her.
I started practicing yoga during the summer because I was bored in Abilene and wanted to go to gym classes as much as possible. But now I do it because it really changed my life. Not to sound like an infomercial, but yoga helped me physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Many of my friends make fun of me because of the yoga stereotypes like the funny words, meditative “ohms” and flowery, spiritual language. But that’s not what yoga means to me. I don’t get on the mat looking for a new-age answer to life problems. Yoga does help with a lot of simple problems, but it’s not as awkward and weird as it sounds.
Yoga tones your muscles, regulates your digestion, and helps you have better posture. Many of the moves put your head upside down so more blood flows to the brain, which is helpful when you have a lot of mental work to do. #finals. Repeating putting your head upside down and right-side up helps with balance and the inner ear. Before doing yoga, I would get really dizzy on roller coasters. But after doing yoga all summer, my inner ear was used to being inverted. I went on a roller coaster at Six Flags in Vallejo, California and walked off without stumbling.
Before doing yoga, I would get stressed out from homework, jobs and social club events. Sometimes I would get so anxious I couldn’t sit still and my heart raced. But yoga taught me to breathe deeply and slowly. It feels like I can hold more air in my lungs now. I can calm myself down with just a few breaths -in through the nose, out through the mouth. I do this breathing technique all throughout the day and it puts me at peace.
It also made it easier to fall asleep at night. Before yoga, I would go to bed and run through my day and my goals and my plans in my mind. But now I breathe deeply and go straight to sleep.
Yoga also helped me spiritually. I know it’s cliche, but it’s true. Before yoga, I hated sitting in silence and being still. Pastors and teachers say we need to be still as part of our worship, but I hated sitting still. I would blast worship music or read long Bible passages to fill up the silence. But when you do yoga, you focus on breathing and hold poses in silence for longer than you think you can. When you’re holding a pose, you have to push past the need to move on to the next pose. Doing this every day familiarized my brain with stillness. Now I can read a verse and meditate on it in silence for 15-20 minutes without getting distracted or feeling like I need to get up and do something.
So before you write off yoga as awkward or weird, think of these benefits and give it a chance. It can really change your life. Namaste.