I have to share with you how much I love yoga! My first yoga class was during my freshman year at The University of Maryland, College Park (2008). I would go to the gym once or twice every week and then head to the diner for a Philly cheesesteak with peppers and onions. It made my day! I eventually stopped making the time for yoga and became consumed with other areas of my seemingly stressful college life. Friends, when something makes you happy and it does not harm you or anyone else, please don’t stop doing it. For the past few months, I have been back at it and feeling great! I want to thank Instagram yogis @_kariooo and @hippie_heathen for all of their beautifully photographed asanas and motivational messages. They encouraged me to continue doing yoga. Maybe you will also want to give it a try!
I really enjoy the way my body feels during and after yoga. I weight train and run sometimes, but the feeling I get from yoga is unmatched. I am physically stronger and more flexible. I feel more aware of what my body can do and I am completely in control. Pranayama is an extension of the breath that accompanies the poses or postures (asanas). It is very relaxing, but don’t think for a second that you won’t get a great workout! The breathing exercises that I have learned in yoga have taught me to deepen my breathing. I notice that even when I am not doing yoga my breathing is still very calm and drawn out. This has not only helped me in yoga, but also in other fitness exercises.
One of the best things about yoga, like other forms of exercise, is how it can help you to manage stress. Stress can be both physical and mental. Try using yoga as a method of coping. It may also help you to adopt a more positive outlook on life. The reason I think yoga has an advantage over other forms of exercise is because it incorporates meditation and breathing. “Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; centers attention; and sharpens concentration,” says Dr. Nevins.
If you are concerned that yoga may go against your religious beliefs because of the meditating and chanting that is associated with it, remember that you have full control over what you choose to meditate upon. For example, you can meditate on a scripture from The Bible that you want to learn more about. Or maybe you want to meditate on a positive message you received earlier in the week. Hinduism incorporates yoga; Yoga does not incorporate Hinduism. I think yoga is great for anyone. If you choose to try it, remember not to force your body into a pose. Yoga is supposed to feel good. Before you know it, you will be able to do things you once could not. The connection between mind, body, and soul is awesome.
To all my ‘Stars’ and everyone on this journey with me: We will go through tribulations in life, but we can always come out victorious. A big part of being a winner in life stems from the way we interpret our trials. You really can get through any situation by choosing to have a positive response.
“If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start.” - Kario