Have You Tried…Yoga?

Hello Readers!  Okay, so we are always looking for a new workout to try or a new diet to help us lose those last few pounds.  But have you ever looked at what is already out there and has been loved by millions?  Today I want to talk about yoga.

Now, I will admit that I am not the first person to discuss yoga.  And this field is becoming the norm in our world.  I will also admit that it is not for everyone, even for me.  I don’t always practice yoga.  But when I do, I feel more flexible and more balanced.

The main purpose behind yoga is flexibility, balance, and relaxation.  It may not be the most relaxing activity, but it can be as relaxing as meditation if done right.  From my experience, even as a beginner, I have found myself most relaxed when I concentrated on my breathing instead of on how I think I look in each of the poses.  Yes, some of them are silly, and the self-conscious teenager in me can often feel awkward.  But overall, when I spent my time thinking of my breathing technique and slowing my breathing down, I felt so much better.

A couple of key points to keep in mind when doing yoga: to begin, consult your physician before beginning any exercise regime.  Yes, this is standard to hear and some of us may roll our eyes because it’s yoga, not P90X.  But for someone with back trouble or other long-term health concerns, yoga may be hazardous to your health.  On the flipside, it may be helpful if you have flexibility issues.  I, personally, suffer from a twisted pelvic joint and I was diagnosed with the chronic condition in graduate school.  My chiropractor actually ordered me to do yoga regularly to help ease the pain and straighten my pelvic joint.  Even now, nearly seven years after my diagnosis, I still need to do certain yoga moves regularly to help prevent long-term pain and severe issues.

Because of my own condition, I have found that when I regularly practice yoga I feel more balanced and in-tune with my body and its movements.  I feel my muscles loosen up as a result of having to be flexible and contort into the different positions.  I even feel those tough-to-remove knots in my muscles  dissipate as a result of regular yoga practice.  And I attribute this to maintaining a steady breathing pattern through the movements and relaxing my body through each position.

Again, I will repeat: concentrate on your breathing while practicing yoga.  Take steady breaths: in through the nose and out through the mouth.  As you breathe out, sink deeper into your position and relax into it.  Try to keep your muscles pulled toward your center–toward your core–and focus on maintaining that balance.  When you pull your muscles to your core, you find your balance strengthening because your core truly is the center of your balance.

Remember to always listen to your body while you work out, even with yoga.  If you are in pain while in an advanced position, drop out of it and into a more comfortable variation of that position.  For example, I know that my body can’t take the Flamingo position, but I can handle the Chair pose.  Whenever I need a break, even if it isn’t time to do so, I will drop into Child’s Pose or I will run through the Sun Salutation vinyasa sequence.  These help my body relax while still stretching and strengthening my muscles. So, remember to listen to your body and don’t overextend it at any time.

My final piece of advice is to make sure you enjoy your practice.  As with any exercise, if you don’t enjoy it you won’t see any results and you will grudge your time allotted for the exercise.  Yoga isn’t for everyone, and even people who do yoga don’t always love to do it every day.  So, make sure it’s right for you.  I will also say that sometimes you have to remember to focus on the right things while practicing yoga in order to make the most of it.  If you focus on feeling awkward about your appearance, or you feel awkward and uncomfortable in each position, then you will not like yoga.  The fact of the matter is this: we don’t become experts overnight.  It takes practice and trial and error to get it right.  Just keep at it and continue to focus on your breathing and what your body is saying while you practice.  And, soon enough, you may find yourself liking yoga as I have.

So, tell me Readers, have any of you had a similar experience with yoga?  Do you feel the same way about yoga?  If you have had any hold-ups about this practice, what was the issue and did you find a way through it?  I would love to hear about your own experiences with yoga.

Until next time,

-BBM

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