3 Things That Are Better After Yoga
I've dabbled in yoga for years. In high school, I used to thumb through Richard Hittleman yoga books from the 70s to find poses to mimic. I was intrigued by the mysticism around yoga and meditation, and that was only intensified as the fitness community started to emphasize more of the physical benefits of yoga (flat abs, toned and lean muscles) over the spiritual mindfulness that is meant to be the focal point of yoga.
So many fitness brands have made millions on yoga's back, and Instagram is now filled with modelesque yogis who have garnered audiences with numbers in the hundred thousands for their stylized, sensual, or awe inspiring mermaid poses, arm stands, and splits which conveniently show of their own branded collection of cute yogi tights, tanks, blocks and straps. It's easy to get caught up in the sexy makeover that the West has treated yoga with, and I have to admit that I sometimes doubt my own practice as I scroll through some of those glamour yoga pages on Instagram. No shade to the glamour yoga pages by the way...they can be great tools for motivation if they are regarded at as one example of how yoga can look and not the standard for how all yoga practices should be.
I'm at the beginning of my yoga journey, and through the wellness program at my job, I've recently become much more consistent about regularly practicing yoga, but I've already found that yoga has gifted me with improvements in various areas of my life. Here's what has been better since I've become serious about yoga:
It's not surprising that a regular yoga practice results in heightened creativity since yoga requires a person to get to know themselves at a level that allows them to achieve ultimate mindfulness. I believe that everyone has some form of creativity within them, but our society produces so much noise and so many distractions that many times we aren't able to sit still long enough to harness it. Yoga gives you this time and this space. As a writer, yoga is one of my favorite weapons against writer's block. You know how some of your best ideas come while you're driving? The same effect happens with yoga, and unlike with driving, you can actually take a break to capture those thoughts.
Yoga forces you to pay attention to parts of your body that you would typically take for granted, so all of this newfound bodily awareness does result in a better ability to experience sensations in and around the body. This isn't necessarily in a sexual sense, although it definitely can be, but for me it's more about being present in my body and appreciating those muscles that I stretched and therefore feel now that I never felt before. It's hard to go back to judging yourself based on a set of numbers ( weight, BMI, etc.) after yoga points out how complex and amazing your body is. I'm not saying those numbers aren't important, but they are only one aspect of health. Yoga reminds us of this.
The yoga class that I attend at my job is pretty advanced in certain areas, and there's a lot of falling, stumbling, and struggling on my part. I look at this as a great opportunity to identify areas where I can focus on improvement. As I fall less, my stumbling steadies, and the struggle becomes not as much, I am grateful for where I've come from, and the opportunity to go further.
Do you practice yoga? What's better in your life after your practice?