Yoga is one of those things you hear a lot about from people who seem to be really “zen”, and, for many, it can seem intimidating, or too far outside of their comfort zone. However, yoga doesn’t have to be scary, inaccessible, or weird. It is one of the few activities that asks you to accept exactly where you are on any given day, with the recognition that today might be a harder day than the day, or week prior. You can start with zero athletic ability or knowledge, and build from there. You don’t have to fork over hundreds of dollars or buy fancy equipment- all you need is a mat, some space, and a device to stream a free video.
Google “Yoga” and you get thousands of hits, ranging from YouTube videos for at-home practice, to studies touting the physical and mental health benefits. Yoga can be an incredibly powerful tool to help you connect with your body in a way you may not have realized was possible, not to mention improving your overall health, strength, and flexibility.
In general, the average person doesn’t pay very much attention to their body, unless they are in pain, which means that they miss the more subtle cues that they are stressed, have minor anxiety, or are pushing themselves too close to their limit and need a break.
Practicing yoga asks you to do physical activity while paying attention to the breath, and the body, which trains the brain to pay more attention to those things, both in and out of the studio. As a result, those who practice regularly report better sleep, lower levels of anxiety, and an increased ability to cope with stress.
Yoga also often has less tangible benefits, including an increased sense of self-confidence and trust in your own abilities. Clients who have difficulty managing emotion and connecting with others report that, with regular practice, these previously unattainable things become easier. When you see yourself go from not being able to touch your toes, to stretching without pain, to being able to balance on one leg with the other extended, it is hard not to recognize your progress and build your trust in your body and self!
Written by: Molly Halbrooks