You don’t practice yoga, you say? Not flexible? Then yoga IS for you…and I’ll tell you why.
This week’s column is a bit different for me. I will share my journey to the yoga mat as a means to show you why I’m extending an invitation to meet me there this National Yoga Month.
I began practicing yoga about 15 years ago, though my practice hasn’t been continuous throughout the years. In my first 10 years of practice, I was there for the physical benefits: strengthening, endurance and flexibility. And then something happened.
My sister passed away at the age of 43 from breast cancer. I experienced a painful break up. I also felt like I was flailing in the waters of being a single, divorced Mom co-parenting my son. What did I do? I removed myself from my normal routine and took my first international trip solo.
On that trip, I began tapping into the trauma from the significant losses of the previous 2 years. It was my first experience of what yoga truly is.
Returning home, I pursued yoga teacher training and found a home at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge. Throughout my trainings, the benefits of self-reflection seeped deep into the fabric of who I am. With strengthening and increasing your body’s flexibility secondary, yoga’s power is in the ability to strengthen your emotional mind by inviting you to become present when you’re on the mat.
Yoga’s definition to bring together, or to yoke, can be thought of as bringing you back to your self, your mind. In doing so, research shows yoga can help relieve stress and create a greater sense of calmness. Additionally, it has been shown to benefit chronic conditions such as lower back pain, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit, hyperactivity and depression.
In celebration of September as National Yoga Month, I invite you to meet me on the mat. Don’t worry, this step may feel like the hardest of all, even for me these days.
Simply arriving on the mat gives you the opportunity to stop and listen to what you’re feeling. Are you anxious? Feeling lonely or frustrated? Once you give yourself the space to sit and listen to your truth, you learn you will survive these difficult feelings and feel much more inclined to let go of them. In turn, your mental and physical health may benefit.
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