My body on yoga

I always start with the best if intensions to workout and get a routine going, but before long I fall off the wagon.

My life just gets in the way and I find many reasons to justify not working out. Afterall, I spend a lot of time running after and hoisting up a toddler. That counts right?

But something I do very regularly is yoga. I can’t explain why, but my brain sees yoga as something separate from exercise. It’s hard work a lot of time, but it’s more like therapy and so vital for the functioning of my mind that I make more of an effort to fit it into my day. I’m doing it about three times a week and I always want to do more.

I also find my body responds really well to it. Here’s what I notice about myself when I practise regularly:

I look thinner. This is not to say I am thinner. I’m naturally a pretty slim person, but when I practice yoga I look more svelte. I think this is because my posture is so much better when I practice. Don’t underestimate the power of good posture! My shoulders go back, my back straightens out and I look long and lean. It’s one of the things I love the most!

Hello, muscle definition! As I said, I’m pretty slim, but I’ve never been particularly toned. My body really responds well to the strength building aspect of yoga, especially when I include a lot of poses that need to be held for a long time. The ones that prove most effective are low lunges like Warriors, Downward Facing Dog, Goddess Pose, Chaturanga and plank. I see definition in my shoulders, biceps, glutes, thighs and abs.

Improved flexibility. Over the course of my practice, I have seen a big change in my flexibility. This didn’t happen overnight. It has been slow and steady progress over a long period of time. But I am now so close to my heels touching the ground in Downward Facing Dog, my hands are creeping closer to my toes in Forward Folds, I can achieve a pretty good twist and so much more. These little achievements feel so big! And my body feels better because of it.

Improved strength. This is another thing I love about Yoga. I have never been very strong, even when I was doing a lot of weight training. I just never seemed predisposed to it. But Yoga is helping to make me strong and I feel that the strength is coming in really practical ways. I’m really close to achieving Crow Pose and this is so exciting for me because my upper body strength is usually quite pathetic. More importantly I feel strong and capable and that’s huge for me.

Improved stability and balance. I’m a clutz. I’m terminally clumsy, am constantly losing my balance, walking into things. It’s linked to my proprioception problems. But Yoga is helping me to improve my balance which in turn is making me less clumsy. This is because it is really helped to improve my core strength and give me a better awareness of my boy and where I am in space.

More forgiving, tolerant mindset. One of the things I love most about yoga is the ‘Progress, not perfection’ mindset. We are all working towards being a better version of ourselves. Some days are better than others and that’s ok. The key is to love yourself, appreciate your body and what it’s capable of and to keep moving forward at a steady pace. These are lessons I try to take with me when I leave the mat.

Improved confidence and self-esteem. Learning to be more forgiving of myself, seeing how strong and capable my body actually is and learning that every achievement is worthy of celebrating has had a profound effect on my confidence and self-esteem. I feel so much better about myself and am learning to stop comparing myself to others. This is a big weakness of mine and something I have to work at every day. I am also not very good at letting things go and yoga definitely helps me with that. I have a long road to travel yet, but I am very much enjoying it.

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