I've learned a few things since I began diligently practicing yoga a few months ago. I went 25 times in my first 60 days!
A friend of mine has been inviting me to try a hot yoga class for the past couple of years, and I never went until a couple of months ago.
I've done yoga before, intermittently at best, and never hot yoga or Bikram yoga. And boy, I didn't know what I was in for! It was HOT, it felt like I was in a sauna, I was dripping in sweat just after a few minutes. The poses were unfamiliar, bending forwards and backwards.
But in that very first class, the instructor said that yoga was like active meditation.
That concept instantly clicked with me.
Honestly, I had wanted to start a meditation practice since last year. I had so many thoughts and ideas in my head that I knew I needed to calm my monkey mind.
Feeling that I needed to meditate was a sign for me that I really needed to meditate.
So, I got a 2 month pass for hot yoga and I have gone at least 2 times a week since then! (Except when we went to Florida for a week.)
There are definitely plenty of health benefits from hot yoga. Read more here.
Aside from the detoxification benefits I think I'm getting from sweating it out in a hot yoga room, aside from moving and toning my body, improving my flexibility and lung capacity, I got a few life lessons as well.
Here are 3 things I've learned from my yoga practice so far:
Just breathe. Focus on breathing and that is a meditation practice in itself. When the mind wanders, come back to the breath. Breathe in, breathe out.
Did you know that the parasympathetic nervous system triggers the relaxation response when the exhale is longer than the inhale? Most people are stressed all the time, and breathing deeply helps us to relax. So just breathe.
Take advantage of savasana (that pose where you just lie down on the mat), just let it go and breathe.
2. Work with what you have.
Be thankful for the body you have at that moment. Be mindful of what your body is telling you and how you feel today. Each class, each day is different. Work with the body that you have at that moment.
I used to feel that I wasn't flexible. My sister was the flexible one who can do backbends and splits. I took ballet classes as a kid, but even then, I could never do a split. So somehow I didn't feel flexible.
But with yoga, each class I try to just go beyond my current flexibility a millimetre or centimetre or inch at a time. And you know what, I feel my flexibility has improved since that first class 2 months ago.
There are days that I can't or don't feel like doing certain poses and that's okay. I am thankful for the body I have at that moment. Work with what you have.
Mind over matter. Think that you can do it, and you can. Think that you can last an entire 60 or 90 minutes in a hot yoga room, and you can. Think that you can do that pose a little longer next time, and you can. That first time in a yoga class that I thought "I can do it", and I did, was so empowering.
That's one gift yoga has given me - focus. Training my mind to focus on the moment, be mindful of my body, has allowed me to use that same focus in other areas of my life.
So thanks to my friend who invited me to that first hot yoga class, I'm now hooked.
I've learned to:
- work with what I have
I can't wait to see where my yoga journey will take me. Namaste.
Have you tried yoga? If you have, what have you learned? Please comment below and let me know!