Reasons Why I Practice Yoga
We all have a sport in which we feel perfect every time we practice it. We may be at ease or face difficulties when practicing it, but we sure feel satisfied afterwards.
Recently, I’ve read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The 7th habit is to Sharpen the Saw, which refers to the continuous improvement of the individual to carry a lifestyle that is sustainable in the long-term, a lifestyle that you can efficiently sustain in all the aspects of your personal and professional life, without continuously improving. The advice is to practice sport. Specifically, meditation or yoga.
To me, this sport is Yoga. I’ve never been much of a great sports-person. Apart from physical education classes, I didn’t do anything special. A little of running, swimming… but with the excuse of being asthmatic, my mom wouldn’t let me do something that made me tired. From then on, the only sport I enjoyed was dancing: Ballet, Jazz, flamenco… No, I won’t post any pictures.
Then I was a hardcore sedentary. I recognize those were not my best years, in fact, doing no sport at all, negatively affected my mental clarity. I was not optimizing my time while working or studying.
It was at the age of 19 that I first started practicing Kundalini yoga just because it was the type of yoga that my gym offered. Right when the class started, the teacher and all the students started chanting a mantra while we were seated in the “comfortable position”. Fuck comfortable: my knees were hurting like hell and my feet were having serious problems to receive blood.
I didn’t know if I had to laugh at the mantra-chanting thing or cry because of the excruciating pain in my legs.
Three weeks later, I was still attending those classes. I didn’t feel passionate about it. I felt totally disconnected from the rest of the class. A couple of months later, I quit the gym because I was flying to Amsterdam for an internship. I did not practice yoga there, although I was cycling everywhere.
6 months later, I headed to San Diego, for my exchange program. I was lucky, my student apartment was right next to the gym, and I had LOTS of free time. So I showed up at all the classes offered there. Specially, there was one on Thursdays afternoons taught by a teacher called Deborah. She was an awesome teacher. I practiced Hatha Vinyasa and I loved it.
I even joined a trip to the Anza-Borrego desert in California. Just. Wonderful. You couldn’t even hear the silence.
By the time my Exchange was over, I had practiced yoga for 4 months and I decided that back home (Barcelona) I should really keep up the practice. It made me feel great. Yoga provided me with an endless list of benefits… that I’d like to share with you today.
I am not trying to convince you that “you should do yoga”. It’s not my job to tell you what you should do in your life, but one that YOU need to decide for yourself. Freely. Without impositions.
As for me, I just feel the necessity of sharing what Yoga has given to me, and maybe this will encourage you to practice THAT sport that you always wanted to carry on practicing. Or that one you thought “I don’t have time for that”. Or maybe (that’s the last OR, I promise) you had always wanted to do yoga… but you’re afraid of not fitting in with the lifestyle at all… So here we go.
- Yoga has improved my sleeping quality. I had serious trouble falling asleep. I wouldn’t stop tossing and turning on my bed, trying to fall asleep, and when I woke up the next morning, I had the feeling I didn’t slept at all. Since Yoga, I don’t even last 2 minutes awake until I fall asleep. It’s magic.
- Deeper level of relaxation. Obviously we all have those days when we feel more stressed out, with millions of tasks to do before the day comes to an end. But it is important not to look at the overall picture, rather to focus on the small steps instead. With the yoga practice, I don’t only obtain more relaxation, but my energy is up to a 100% when the day begins.
- Strength and flexibility. With the yoga practice, you improve your asanas overtime, because you acquire strength to all the extremities of your body (arms, core, abs, legs, etc.). Moreover, your flexibility is also improved in different articulations and muscles of your body. It helps you to become more agile and vital.
- Overcoming your fears. The inverted postures are often the ones that scared me the most at first. I follow two simple steps every time I feel scared. First, picture yourself doing the posture in your mind. Then, in small steps, you go forward until you surrender to the posture. And then you realize that you can overcome your fears once you face them and trust yourself during the process. There was nothing to worry about…
- It suits your body and your mood. There are plenty of combinations of asanas. Unless you practice Ashtanga yoga, you can switch the positions to any combinations you feel like doing that day. If you feel more flexible one day, try those asanas that challenge your flexibility. If you feel more balanced, try doing more standing positions. Or you can even switch the intensity of the practice up: one day more hardcore or Rocket Yoga style, and the following a more stretching-calming yoga. That way, you can still practice yoga everyday.
- Focus and attention. Normally, when opening the yoga practice, the class starts with a few minutes of silence. That’s when you set an objetive or an intention for yourself throughout the practice. This helps you keep focused and filled with good intention. Breathing is truly important when transitioning and maintaining the asanas. You help yourself flow into the postures by breathing. Meditation is also beneficial for your health, as it prevents depression and stress. I don’t say it boldly. There are scientific studies, you can either believe them or not. It also contributes to the self-knowledge and inner peace. Or you can also read these posts to better know yourself.
- Balance. Yoga is the search of balance. The vast majority of postures help improving your alignment. Specially in your legs, arms, back and shoulders. The search of this alignment helps you improve your postures and mental serenity.
- Continuous improvement. In yoga (or anything in life, really) you don’t reach perfection at first. There’s no such thing as a perfect posture. It depends on following your own path. Practicing each day, to get better and better. That’s what I love the most about yoga: you summon yourself to learn. And if you fall, you gently smile and try again. You forgive yourself for not achieving the posture at first… and you congratulate yourself for getting better and better each day.
To me, Yoga is like a mirror of entrepreneurship. It’s a continuous process of physical and mental development, self-awareness and motivation. Always willing to improve and to learn. Always trusting yourself no matter if you fall. It is about overcoming your fears. Finding your balance step by step… without judging others or yourself.