Last year I took a formal yoga class while training for my half marathon. Although I have done yoga at home with books and DVDs on and off over the years, but I thought a formal class was a great addition when getting ready to ask my body to work itself to the max. I was not disappointed. Yoga really helped me in three ways. It improved my breathing, improved my physical health and helped me find centering (the zone).
Breathing is so important during exercise. Yoga helps me be aware of my breathe, and how it fits in to my exercise. It also helps me to breathe more deeply and fully. I think as a full-sized person, my body sometimes will forget to breathe fully naturally because, well I have some fat in the way and it is easier to breath less fully.
Yoga allows me to physically work and explore the possibilities of my body. It is a practice that allows me stretch my body and safely ask and teach it to do more. Good instructors will help you to find your postures. None of us do the postures exactly the same. It is not all about getting everyone to put their feet behind their head. It is about getting your body to work the muscles, many of them we never use in our modern lifestyles. If all of your muscles get to work out then your body is more physically balanced with each muscle doing its job and contributing. When that happens we really do feel better.
Lastly yoga encourages us to learn to work our mind by teaching us how to meditate, and clear our mind. The process of concentrating on your body and your breath has helped me to clear my mind. Yoga helps me work on personal awareness and finding my personal balance. I am able to find a place when I do yoga, where I am not thinking about what I should be doing with this time instead. I don’t worry for that little bit of time about work, family, friends, stress and what needs to be done; all those things in life that pull you in so many directions. I am fully in the moment. This skill of being in the moment serves me well when I am on mile nine when I walk is that hardest hit the walk kind of place, so much worse for me than mile 13.
I know that some in the Christian faith believe that Yoga is a religion and is anti-Christian. It may be so. I personally think that God would want me to find physical health and learn to let go of all those things in my mind so that I would be more receptive to hearing his word, and being embraced by the Holy Spirit. So off to a new set of yoga classes I go tonight.