Since this past April, I’ve been to 31 yoga clases a Santosha School. I’m averaging two a week, but if I have a day off or holiday (like last week), I go more often. A few coworkers and I practice every Monday for 40 minutes at work in a conference room and I practice at home at least once a week on top of all of that. I must say I feel amazing in many different ways. I’m more aware of myself, my body and my emotions. I am noticeably happier, standing taller and I smile more. How is yoga connected? I’m glad you asked.
Practicing yoga postures (they’re called asanas) allows you to release the unconscious tensions that build up in your muscles. Think about it like this – when you’re sitting at a computer all day, your shoulders are tight. When you stop working at the computer, you do stop holding that tight posture, but all of the tension from your day is locked into your muscles. Yoga not only stretches your muscles, it releases those emotions that are stored in that tension, emotions you may or may not be aware of.
Here’s an article title “Emotions in Motion” from Yoga Journal that may help explain it: http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/1215
and “Why are we overcome with emotions during or after yoga class” from YogaGlo: http://www.yogaglo.com/blog/2012/10/why-are-students-overcome-with-emotions-after-yoga-class/
Let it out.
Go to a yoga class when you’re having a stressed day. Allow yourself the time to focus on you and what’s within you. Heck, you’re paying for it, right? So stop thinking about the 50 emails you need to send and the invitations to the party and the dog food you need to pick up. Those thoughts will be there when you leave the studio. So while you’re there, take advantage of the “me” time and allow yourself to LET IT OUT and LET GO.
I’ve always been flexible, but I’ve never been strong. Yoga has helped me regain my teenage flexibility while also gaining strength that I’ve never had. My biceps and thighs have noticeable muscle definition, and each day I notice that postures get a little easier to hold. I surprise myself with what I can do, and I remember that I’ve never done any athletic/exercise activity for this long before. This is new to me.
This is not new to me. I could do this EASILY when I was a kid. I think it was my 2nd week of yoga class when Pierre, my instructor, told me to push up into that position. He said “you can do it,” and, while I did get up there, it was a struggle, and getting down was very difficult. Now, I can easily push up into this position and hold it for 10 breaths. I’m very proud of this.
It’s called Urdhva Dhanurasana. How cool is that?
Yoga has brought me patience and awareness of my surroundings. It’s taught me that everything I need is within me. I can tackle anything on my own. This has been a very helpful approach for many of life’s situations.
Healing with Ayurveda
Last month I signed up for an Ayurveda consultation with my school. What is Ayurveda? I’m so glad you asked!
Ayurveda is Sanskrit for “the science of life,” and has been around for thousands of years. While Western medicine treats the signs and symptoms of your health problems, Ayurveda is an alternative medicine that focuses on physical, mental and energetic healing. In India, where Ayurveda originated, it literally translates to “traditional medicine.”
I could go on and on about Ayurveda – there is A LOT of info to understand, and I plan on sharing pieces of that with you through many blog posts. In my consultation, I learned what dosha I am (your body constitution) which is based on the five elements: earth, water, fire, space, and air. While all of those elements are present in our body, some of them are more present than others, which leads to your dosha. Learning about your dosha allows you to understand how you should eat, sleep, work, play and live. It explains a lot about who you are and WHY you are who you are. (Again, another blog post).
See? RESEARCH. The library has a great Ayurveda selection.
Ayurveda has a lot of influence on how you cook, and I’m excited to begin to share this with you. Don’t worry, I’m not changing my recipes, but I am paying attention to what foods are right for me. I suggest that you read a bit about Ayurveda online or grab one of these books from the library if you want to know more right now.
I also bought a new yoga mat! Yay! It’s the Manduka eKO mat in Acai.
Yes, I have a current yoga mat, but it’s 65″ long and way too short for my 5’9″ frame. I was constantly tripping over my mat when moving in vinyasa flows. The Manduka eKO mat was available in 79″ inches, which gives me plenty of room.
The mat also lays completely flat on the floor and will not budge. This is probably because it’s almost 7 pounds. It’s HEAVY. Carrying this to class builds arm strength! I’ve only used it in class once, but so far I really like it.
One thing to remember when you buy a new mat is that you need to clean it before you use it. Mats have a sticky manufacturer layer of film to keep the mat from ripping itself apart when you unroll it for the first time. Also, this mat is incredibly stinky. I know this will wear off over time, but it was crucial that I unrolled the mat and let it stay out in the open air for a day before I used it in class. I did a few things that helped take away the smell and the filmy layer:
- Scrub the mat with salt and water
- Mix 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water and 15 drops of tea tree oil
- Let it sit out in an open space to air out
As I continue on this journey, I plan on blogging about it and sharing my thoughts in hopes that I inspire you to consider taking a yoga class, wherever you are. It’s important. Just try it. If it’s not for you at this time in your life, that’s fine. But I want to start blogging about it more and I want to provide you with information that may help you out in your time of need. So please, join me on this journey and start learning about yourself. You never know what you may find!