Alex is a certified yoga teacher when she’s not one of Carbon38‘s Customer Service Representatives, and we wanted to hear her thoughts about why she loves yoga, and what it does for her mentally, physically and spiritually. Take it away, Alex!
When I was approached to write a short contribution to Page38 regarding my thoughts and experience with yoga from the perspective of a certified yoga teacher, I was totally flattered and thought, “I can totally write about yoga! This will be super easy!” Once I thought about it I realized that pretty much everything yoga related has been written about one bazillion times already. We’ve read about the benefits, we’ve seen the poses, and we all probably know at least one fitness buff that also talks about incorporating yoga into their routine. So instead, I’m going to make this more personal. First, a little bit more about me:
- I’m 30 years old and I’ve been practicing yoga since 2008, though consistently and regularly since 2012.
- I am a 200 hour Certified RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher, as recognized by the Yoga Alliance). I received my certification through YogaWorks and studied under Carolina Goldberg, voted one of the Top 8 yoga teachers in LA by TheCultureTrip.com
- I DON’T always love getting on my yoga mat and making my body move. Real talk: laziness is a dark mistress.
Now that you know a little bit about who’s talking to you. Instead of telling you why you should practice yoga, here are five of the many reasons I get bendy on the regular. Hopefully, you’ll find something that resonates with you and gives you the urge to get bendy yourself!
Bend Like Nobody’s Watching
Yoga is pretty much one of the only forms of physical movement that I actually enjoy doing. As a kid, I was involved in various extracurricular activities – dance class, softball, Tae Kwon Do – and I enjoyed them well enough (especially dance), but really I just wanted to read and do artsy stuff. This well continued into my teens and young adult years; while my peers were all going to the gym to shed their Freshman 15, I just couldn’t get into it. I wanted to do something good for my body but I craved something that didn’t FEEL like “working out”. As a former dancer, yoga felt as close to dancing as I could get with the added bonus of body weight strength training, working on my flexibility, and quieting my ever-chattering mind. It’s the one thing I’ve found that I can stick to because I genuinely enjoy it and offers the added bonus of keeping me in shape. If you’re struggling to find a “workout” that you enjoy, try yoga – it’s so different from most other workouts, that even if you really don’t like working out you might love yoga!
Yogas citta vrtti nerodha – “Yoga is the quieting of the mind”
I’m a thinker; I’m always in my head, but when I’m on my yoga mat, I don’t HAVE to think about anything! My “To Do” list can wait another 60-90 minutes until I’m off of my mat because at that time, my only concern is what’s happening in that moment. I’ve always turned to yoga for comfort, solace, and healing; when things seem out of control, I get on my mat and by the end of my practice, things seem manageable again. In fact, that very reason is why I wanted to train to be a yoga teacher- so that I could pass along to others what my yoga teachers passed along to me: the practice of quieting the mind and taking the time to focus within, gaining perspective and awareness. The best part about the more mental aspect of the yoga practice- you can take it anywhere. Yoga isn’t all about the asana (poses); my practice transcends my time on the mat. Taking a moment to do some conscious breathing can really turn things around. As my teachers say, “that’s when the real yoga begins.”
A yoga practice a day (well, twice a week or more) keeps the doctor away!
Not everyone walks into a yoga studio with 15% body fat and the ability to become a human pretzel (I sure don’t); in fact, many people begin their yoga journey a little bit “fluffy” or unable to even touch their toes. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone tell me that they’re not fit or flexible enough to do yoga, I’d have so many dollars. Fun fact: yoga improves your fitness and flexibility! The cool thing about yoga is you don’t have to be in perfect health or shape to start, you just have to want to be better. A regular yoga practice will increase your muscle and bone strength (it’s essentially body weight training), promote feelings of happiness and peace of mind, help you achieve deeper sleep, reduce migraines, stress, blood pressure, insomnia, feelings of depression, and so much more! Getting my butt on my mat two times a week or more has helped me gain upper body strength I never had before, reduced my back pain, significantly improved feelings of depression that I’ve struggled with since I was a teenager, motivated me to make healthier dietary choices, given me deep and restful sleep, and generally made me a happier human being.
More yoga for better living.
Whenever I slack on my yoga practice, I find myself slacking in other areas of my life as well. Making sure I’m regularly on my mat and making it a part of my routine at least a few times a week keeps me on point! Knowing that I’ve done something good for my mind and my body makes me want to keep the ball rolling with the healthy habits- limiting my coffee intake and drinking more water, making sure I eat something green every day, going to bed a little bit earlier so I’m well rested, only having ONE glass of wine at dinner with friends, etc. Not to mention, my brain functions way better! I feel more positive and optimistic, and I want to share these positive, optimistic feelings with others- it’s totally contagious. The domino effect is real – if you start adding just one healthier habit to your life, it WILL lead to making more and more healthier choices. For me, a regular yoga practice is how I keep myself on track and continue to improve my quality of life. When I fall off the wagon – and I do – all it takes is getting my butt back on that mat again, and I instantly start feeling better.
IT’S REALLY FUN!
Of course this is just my personal opinion, but I think yoga is really fun! Yes, it can be difficult and work your muscles and make you sweat and be a little uncomfortable, physically and mentally. I happen to find these challenges exciting! All the while, I’m doing something that’s benefitting my mind and body, AND I can do it with friends! It’s a cool, healthy thing that I can do by myself if I need some “Me Time”, or a cool, healthy thing that I can do with a buddy. Yoga for every body!
What I’m really hoping anyone gets out of my words is not just how much I personally happen to love yoga, but inspiration to give it a try. If yoga still isn’t your thing, find something you love to do and do more of it. We all need to take care of ourselves, inside and out, and what better way to do it and keep doing it by finding something we actually enjoy?! We all deserve to be healthy and happy and there’s no better time to start than right now. Go forth into the world – find your yoga and DO IT!