This post is something I’ve wanted to write about for quite some time now, so buckle up, fam. What is yoga? And why the hell do I think YOU should be doing it?!
There is a plethora of benefits to a consistent yoga practice — so many that I’m confident that I only really know and understand just a few of those benefits. Just a quick Google search on “the benefits of yoga” yields an overwhelming number of results. So, just to name a few — benefits of yoga include: managing stress/reducing anxiety, aiding in better quality sleep, improved heart health, the easing of pain and symptoms of arthritis, improving strength, flexibility, and balance, boosting energy and uplifting moods, and so much more. Sounds like a damn good medicine to me.
I could also read and write for days on how these claims are backed and proved by science, but I’ll save that for another day, you nerds. Just know this — there’s a reason so many people go “try” yoga and never stop practicing. It’s good shit, for a buttload of ailments — physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. It may not be the cure-all for everything but I can tell you it’s can and will help you in some way.
So anyway, what even IS yoga?
The practice of yoga is thousands and thousands of years old. In the West, when people hear the word “yoga,” they think about the physical asana practice or the postures taught in a class. Traditionally, the asana practice is only a small part of your yoga practice.
By definition, yoga has a couple of meanings: “to yoke or harness” and “union” or other terms that allude to a “joining” function.
In my asana practice, the union focus is drawing together my breathe and my movement. When I can *really* get into a flowy groove of breath+movement, there is a feeling of wholeness, ease, and complete peace in my body that I have not yet found a way to accurately articulate. It’s important (in my opinion) to note that this isn’t an easy task for me. And as any of my yoga teachers and mentors would say, “that’s why they call it a practice!” Yeah, yeah, I get it now, you were right I was wrong. Nonetheless, when I am able to establish a strong breath+movement connection, I seem to have a breakthrough. And this is (a small part of) why yoga is more than just the physical asana practice.
Another fantastic benefit of yoga I mentioned at the beginning of this post is reduced anxiety and boosted mood. Hi, I’m sorry, anyone seem to be drowning in anxiety lately? I know I can’t be alone. So if you knew there was something that had potential to be a tool for you in managing that, you would take advantage of that tool… right? Mhmm, gurl, I’m lookin’ at you! Do yourself a favor. Try yoga.
I’ll take one for the team and tell you all some of the nitty gritty deets explaining what yoga is to me — after all, what else is this blog for, right? But first, here’s a short list of the emotional and mental benefits I’ve experienced as a result of my yoga practice.
1. Learning to quiet my mind and just breathe and listen.
2. Feeling grounded and balanced or centered.
3. Sitting with emotions — yes, all of them. The painful ones, the sad ones, the angry ones, the worried ones, and the happy ones. Just sitting with them, acknowledging them, and allowing them to pass.
4. Letting go of things that are no longer serving me. 4.2 Making space to invite in things that spark joy and ease.
5. Unlocking blockages of energy or emotion and getting a nearly instant relief.
6. Finding clarity that has helped with decision making many times.
7. In a rare, one time case, essentially allowing me/my awareness to step outside of myself mentally and perceive myself almost from the perspective of someone other than myself. A very small moment in the grand scheme of my life, but something that changed me, nonetheless.
All of these things — AND SO MUCH MORE.
YES — from YOGA.
I feel it’s right and fair to myself to acknowledge that the above benefits didn’t come without a lot of energy and work on my end. It doesn’t just happen after your first class. I put in the work and failed and made mistakes and tried again and tripped and got back up and all of those things — just to get where I am today. And I promise you, I still have a hell of a lot of work I want to do on myself. That’s why they call it a practice. (And now when you say it, you better say “my teacher, Sara Ann, always says blahblahbloop!”)
I feel as if I’m bursting at the seams, yet also feeling very vulnerable to share all of this and more with you all. I hope that it resonates with you and if it does, I hope you’ll always feel welcome to share with me. If you have any questions about anything in this post, or anything at all, really, feel free to message me on Instagram @newrootsyoga.
If you’re in Jonesboro, come do yoga with me. Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30 to 7:30pm. DM me for the address. Take an hour for yourself. Take care of your body, mind, and soul. Connect with your body and your breath. I really do not think you will regret it.