Blarghhhhh! I posted this early this morning and just now realized that things went wonky. I'm not sure how I messed things up, but I did. So, sorry for the delay... and now on with your regularly scheduled programming.
Well everyone, this is a first in GinJ history: a post about yoga!! I couldn't be more excited to introduce all of you to Sondra, who is an incredibly inspiring woman and blogger. She has a fantastic post for all of you today. I hope you enjoy it!
Hello, Gypsy in Jasper fans! My name is Sondra and I blog over at abhaya about yoga, natural living, and style. You might remember me from such posts as last week's What to Wear feature (In my head, that last line is totally in Troy McClure's voice). I'm pretty new at this whole blogging thing, so I am so happy and honored that Nicole trusts me with all you lovely readers while she's on vacation!
Today I thought I'd share with you all a bit about yoga and why it's so awesome. Already practice? Great! Then why aren't you following my blog already? ;) I'm going to share the top three reasons why you should consider starting your own practice.
3. Confidence. Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror and criticize your reflection? Or un-tag yourself from photos that your friend posted from last night's party because you don't like the way you look? We've all been there. It's nearly impossible to not internalize all of the negativity that's directed towards women in our culture. From impossibly airbrushed magazine covers to the personally-trained-stylist-dressed actresses looking back at you from the movie screen, the standard of "beauty" is unrealistic. If you've been following Amy at Vanagon Champion's message of radical self-love, then you're already on the self-love train. Yoga teaches that where you are is exactly where you are supposed to be. Your body does a million amazing things for you everyday, and it's time to start celebrating what it does for you, not what you think it doesn't. Working in your body and experiencing it from the inside out gives you a whole new perspective and appreciation for the skin you live in.
2. Playing Your Edges. We all fall into one of two categories: we either have a tendency to push ourselves too hard, or on the flip side, we don't push ourselves hard enough. We might switch sides from time to time, but we're usually on one side of the fence or the other. I find myself most often on the not pushing myself hard enough side. When you practice yoga, you learn to find that happy medium of effort and ease. You realize pretty quickly that if you don't push yourself hard enough that you'll never be able to hold that plank position or get into that crazy pose. On the other hand, if you push yourself too hard you'll wind up injured and sore. Learning to take this lesson from the mat and into my life has been one of the most valuable things yoga has taught me. One of my first teachers said to me once, "find comfort in the discomfort." This has stuck with me through many challenging positions, both on the mat and off.
1. Connecting Our Minds With Our Bodies. I think many people underestimate how powerful this connection really is. When we feel depressed or sad, our shoulders slump, we round over, and the shoulders push forward. We do this instinctively when we're feeling exposed, to protect our organs and vulnerable parts. Or think about when your'e anxious or nervous; your stomach clenches up, your heart beats faster, maybe you get a little light headed. How we feel mentally and emotionally shows up in our body, in these more obvious ways, but also from the just the everyday ups and downs that we all experience. Yoga teachers like to say, "our issues are in our tissues," and it is so true. I have literally made myself sick from worry! But by learning to connect our minds with our bodies, we can gain insight to both, and eventually you can start to take back control of both when you need to. Just start by noticing your breath right now. What kind of quality does it have? Short, shallow, ragged? Whatever it is, start to deepen your inhales and exhales, counting the length of each. Try to lengthen your out-breaths until they're longer than your in-breath, and continue with this for a couple of minutes. See? Don't you feel a bit better? I hope so! :)
Yoga isn't about being able to twist up into a pretzel, it truly teaches a way of life. Even if all you do is take a minute to take a few deep breaths everyday, than you're already on your way. I seriously had a hard time limiting this post to the top three ways you can gain from a yoga practice - I could easily come up with a dozen more! Easy ways to learn more:
- Videos and how-tos on YouTube and Yoga Journal
- Look for a free or donation based class in your area. More and more studios are starting to offer these.
- Follow my blog (sorry for the shameless plug!). Seriously though, I'm all about finding ways to use yoga in your life, especially in ways that aren't necessarily what you might think (Meditate in the shower! Feel amazing in that new skirt!) and that don't require any prior knowledge or practice.
P.S. (Ever wonder what namaste means? "In me is a place of love, light, and truth. When I am in that place in me, and you are in that place in you, together in the moment we are one." Beautiful, huh?)
I'll be honest, I have only done yoga twice, once by following a VHS tape (for reals!) and another time in a class. The tape didn't do much for me, but the class was quite glorious. After reading Sondra's reasons for practising yoga, I think I might just have to pick it up and take it a little more seriously this time around. So thanks to Sondra for inspiring me. I hope she's inspired you as well!
Are you a yogi?