As a Catholic, it is hard not to get pulled into the musings criticizing yoga as a threat to religion due to its origin being in Hindu India. There are countless articles written on the subject, but it is essential to recognize that yoga is not a religion and therefore poses no threat to my beliefs or any of yours. Yoga is extremely beneficial to a person’s health, both physically and mentally. Its overwhelming benefits cannot be overlooked.
For many, yoga is purely physical, a means to increase flexibility, balance, and strength, but those who practice yoga as it was intended, find they make significant gains mentally and spiritually as well. Yoga affords you the opportunity to slow down. It allows you to quiet your mind and meditate. As busybodies, always on the go, every part of us needs to be given a chance to counteract all the stress by unwinding and being still; it is not often that we give ourselves an opportunity as persons to do this.
Despite being highly flexible, I always found yoga to be arduous; my inherent struggles with the practice are more mental than they are physical. I started yoga when I was in college; I loved so many things about it, but I couldn’t find a way to stick with it. I did yoga on and off for years following graduation.
Years later, after an extended break from exercise, I started practicing yoga again following the birth of my second child. It was at the urgency of my good friend, Jennah, that I found a profound appreciation for it again. She knew I was overwhelmed as a mother of two boys under the age of two and she knew the benefits yoga would provide. She implored me to give it another go. I kept feeding her excuse after excuse until I was dry of them. I finally caved and went to a class – it was one of the hardest 90-minute classes I had ever done. Jennah was surprised at my flexibility after years of not practicing, but I stressed to her that my experience was far more challenging than I made it look. Sitting “still” for more than thirty minutes does not come effortlessly to me. I need to move. Even when I am working at my desk, I am continually getting up or twitching my legs. The fact that I struggle with yoga only serves to prove that I need it in my life. After a few months of consistent yoga practice, I started to notice incredible changes in my body and mind; I had tangible proof it was working.
Unfortunately, when my husband had to start traveling for work again, I abandoned my practice as I had done so many times in the past. Not a day went by that I didn’t miss it. It took me nearly two whole years – and this blows my mind because times slips by so quickly – for me to take a good look in the mirror and prioritize my health again. I started my practice slowly only twelve days ago, this time at home using Beachbody OnDemand, and I already feel so much better. Even though it makes it hard for me to quiet down as much as I would like, I love that I can have my rambunctious boys join me in my practice; they really like yoga too, and God knows they need it in their lives!
If you are a skeptic, I hope you give yoga a chance. It will likely surprise you.