Thursday, September 9, 2010

Spreading some yoga love

 Photo credit: Canon in 2D (Flickr)

It's National Yoga Month, so Happy Yoga Month!  I thought I'd share some yoga love by telling you about my personal yoga experience.  Ever since I can remember, I've always been more of a "cardio" girl.  I've always preferred to "feel the burn" and sweat and raise my heart rate.  While I'd tried out yoga here and there in the past, I usually preferred to focus on doing my cardio thing or training for some event, like a marathon. However, over the last year or so I started to flirt with the idea of yoga more.  Something about it was just calling me.  I finally took the plunge last January when I was presented with an opportunity that this frugalista just couldn't refuse -- 5 weeks of unlimited yoga for half the usual price!  When I attended my first class, I must admit that I was somewhat nervous.  What yoga poses will we do?  Am I going to be able to do all of those funky yoga moves?  What I quickly realized, though, was that I didn't need to worry about any of these things.  What I learned is that yoga is about more than conquering amazing physical feats.  While my yoga practice has pushed me to incredible new places in terms of my flexibility, balance, strength and stamina, it has also motivated my growth in other ways.

Yoga has helped me stretch my mind to create a more flexible way of thinking.  With yoga, I am encouraged to create a space free of expectations, worries, stresses, criticisms, judgments, comparisons, competitions, and tough love.   When we'd get to crow pose, maybe I'd try it and not get it. Maybe I'd try it and sustain it only a few seconds or maybe I did so for longer.  During yoga, I'm invited to practice with intention so that I am more observant and open to the possibilities.  Each possibility is okay.  There is no "right or wrong" or "do or die" or "no pain, no gain".  Yeah!  In the beginning, the more I practiced yoga, the more I also realized that many of the principles of yoga coincide with the philosophies that I've developed around food and eating. Hello -- mindful and intuitive eating!  So yoga has inspired me to expand these principles into more areas of my life.

Yoga has also nourished me spiritually.  While some may shy away from the spiritual aspects of yoga, I embrace the opportunity to welcome God into my yoga practice...and beyond!  When I'm encouraged to open my heart center in various poses, I see it as my way of opening myself up to God...being grateful for all of his blessings and inviting him in to all that I do.  Talk about peace! 

My experience with yoga has been incredibly surprising.  I had no idea what would be in store for me when I got started, but I think that continuing the practice beyond a few drop ins here and there has allowed me to experience more of what yoga has to offer.  I have never once dreaded going to yoga. Never!  And I don't monitor the clock wondering, "When is this going to be over?"  Unfortunately, I can't say the same about running or going to the gym.  I leave feeling refreshed, renewed, invigorated, peace!

Given my experiences, I am not surprised to know that there has been a surge in the number of people practicing yoga over the last decade.  In fact, yoga is now often suggested as a complementary form of therapy for many conditions, including high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, chronic low back pain, heart disease, anxiety, depression, and more!  It also doesn't surprise me that eating disorder treatment programs now incorporate yoga as an adjunct therapy for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating.  Even the Army is now incorporating yoga into their fitness training and rehab programs

I know that some people are unsure about yoga because they're concerned that they're not fit or flexible enough, but in my experience, yoga is accessible to most anyone regardless of your level of fitness or age. That is the beauty of yoga.  It is what you allow it to be.  In writing this post, I must admit that I did it in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, it might inspire another to give yoga a try.  So I do hope that one of you lovely readers takes the yoga plunge, too...and please let me know about it!

Interested in trying it out?
  • Many yoga centers offer free classes for newbies and while it's National Yoga Month, I know many places that are doing this. So take advantage!  
  • If you're looking for deals, like me, then you may want to check out Groupon for deals in your area. I've supported my yoga practice through a string of offerings through their daily deals.
  • If you're not sure about attending an actual class, you may want to test drive yoga in the comfort of your own home.  There are plenty of DVDs available for purchase, or you can rent them through Netflix, Blockbuster Online, or even your local library!  I've also explored a variety of yoga programs through the Free On Demand options through my local cable network (eg, Exercise TV On Demand).  And there are plenty of yoga clips and podcasts online that will help you practice some of the poses.  Check out this one from CorePower Yoga.
Are you a fellow yogi?  What do you love about yoga?



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