Career Magazine

Week Two of My Yoga Transformation

By Rebecca_sands @Rebecca_Sands

Yoga on Daily Inspiration Board

For the next six weeks, my Monday health and wellness posts are likely to revolve around yoga – just to let you know in advance! As mentioned last week in my post My health and yoga journey, I have embarged on a six-week yoga program with my local studio which is a lifestyle transformation, rather than a challenge as such.

This entails six days of yoga a week, daily meditation and journalling, and largely wholefoods nutrition. Surprisingly, on week two, the hardest part of the challenge has been to maintain the meditation practice rather than the yoga part of it. As I have been practicing three to four days a week for the past 10 months, and alternating with gym sessions on the other days, upping my game to six days a week hasn’t been too much of a challenge. Finding time to meditate every day has been the most difficult part.

It’s not the meditation that is hard – although it is surprisingly difficult to sit still and do nothing for any length of time. Rather, it’s finding the space in my day; getting into the habit pattern of taking the time for stillness; and the discipline of prioritising this space over the million other things demanding my attention in day-to-day life.

I’ve had a meditation practice previously, but it just hasn’t been as consistent as it might have been which means that I probably haven’t achieved the full benefits yet.

I have written previously about the benefits of meditation, and there are solid research findings to support that it reduces stress significantly more than other often more expensive approaches to stress management; it slows the deterioration of the brain as part of the natural aging process; it increases the grey-matter density in the hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with learning and memory; and it can even make you more creative. Check out my post for the details of these studies.

I have attempted to do yoga of my own accord in the past; practicing at home and sporadically at the gym. I find that it’s a lot easier to commit to it when you’re surrounded by like-minded people who are equally (or more) challenging themselves too. It’s also easier when you are being instructed by someone far more advanced in the practice of yoga. This is why I have found it so beneficial to join a studio that is dedicated to yoga practice. I don’t feel like I could do this otherwise. When I am around others more advanced than I am or equally as dedicated, I glean inspiration from it. I think it’s the same with all learning – connecting with others is key to success, development and commitment.

I am already experiencing some of the great benefits that yoga can bring. Here’s my top five.

  1. With regular yoga practice, my life flows more smoothly. This may sound far-fetched, but it’s true that when you practice the flow of yoga you bring it with you into your day-to-day life, off the mat. Things just seem to fall into place more easily; or perhaps it’s just that it’s easier to respond in a better way to the challenges that inevitably arise.
  2. I feel physically stronger. This is not in a ‘more muscled’ sense – it’s more that my body feels increasingly supple and recovers faster from everyday stresses like sitting at a desk for significant periods of time. My lower back pain from years of sitting in a chair for hours on end has eased.
  3. I can manage stress better. My mind doesn’t jump ahead as much; I can remain calmer and feel more in control, and react positively when negative situations occur. It’s easier to laugh at trivial upsets, like spilling something on my shirt or making a silly comment, rather than feeling anxious about it. It’s also easier to keep things in perspective. Life still gets hard; it’s how I’m reacting to it now that has improved.
  4. I am getting better at the postures. Day by day and inch by inch, I find that I can stretch myself further and take on bigger and more challenging poses. It’s important to always feel like we’re progressing in life, and this is something else that can be taken off the mat and into every day situations.
  5. I feel healthier and more relaxed. Being able to understand my own limitations and being kind to myself when I am having an ‘off’ day is part of the journey of self-love, and I’ve not always been able to do this in the past. Yoga helps you to understand your flaws and be kind to yourself about it, challenging yourself when you feel up to it and taking a step back when you need to.

Do you practice yoga? How has it improved your life? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! 

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