Why you should practice yoga
Have you ever noticed when everything seems fine and easy going, life throws you a curve ball or two, just to keep you on your toes? When they strike, whether you are prepared or not, you are likely to have one of two reactions: fight or flight.
Picture yourself not only anticipating and catching those balls, but juggling them effortlessly. Welcome to Yoga!
Yoga practice helps to discipline the mind, by synchronizing the breath with body movement. It is renowned as an ancient practice with origins dating back thousands of years to India. The word itself, originates from the Sanskrit language, and means union, or to put it simply – to know who you are and to be at peace and harmony with what you discover.
What does it really mean to know yourself? It means opening a doorway that goes beyond your physical body, finding value in tumultuous situations, and discovering limitless possibilities of who you could be. Such self-inquiry may not be the initial intent; however, as if by happy accident, this is by far the most common experience of people who continuously practice yoga.
While it is great to achieve advance poses in your yoga practice, this should not be the only purpose. Many people are introduced to yoga after a traumatic experience or when a physician suggests preventative methods to manage stress, control weight, modify a sedentary lifestyle or normalize chronic diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol or blood pressure. To give an example, Becky, whose a marketing director, recently joined my yoga class and complained about sitting in front of a computer at her desk for more than seven hours without a break each day. She described her day as monotonous, with limited body movement. Becky’s aim was to reacquaint herself with her body while improving her flexibility and strength, and within six months she was delighted with her transformation.
Typically people join my classes to improve back strain and aching joints. Physiotherapists have recommended patients recovering from slipped discs to attend yoga class to complement their therapy.
Yoga is for everyone who has breath and yearns for freedom from fear, doubt and pain. It can help you to achieve discipline, focus, mental strength, and an overall feeling of well-being and health. Originally designed to help achieve a more positive outlook on life and a sense of serenity and peace; yoga today is more likely to be viewed as a fitness workout for people to curl their body into jaw-dropping, seemingly impossible postures. Somewhere between ancient tradition and modern image, lies a sweet spot for each person to connect to the benefits of yoga, in a meaningful and life changing manner.
I started practicing yoga in 2005, while I was a graduate student at UC Berkeley. A friend invited me to a yoga class as a study break and stress reliever. At the time, I had no clue what to expect. I just wanted a “break” from everything – life, bills, school, work, my health, the city…everything! By the end of my first 60-minute class, I realized I got much more than I bargained for, and this has been my experience each and every time I roll out my yoga mat.
Initially, the aim was to workout, sweat and occupy my mind with something other than stress from my day to day life. Eleven years later, my yoga practice has evolved to teach me how to co-exist with curve balls and everything else life throws my way. Physical movement has always been important to me, but so is the mental, emotional and spiritual oneness I experience on and off the yoga mat.
Since becoming a certified yoga teacher in 2010, I’ve observed the progression of several students who yearn for freedom and the benefits of yoga. The journey is different for everyone, but one thing is certain: you’ll never walk away from a 60-minute yoga session feeling the same way you did before yoga practice started.
When someone tells me that they want to try yoga, but hesitate because they aren’t “flexible enough,” I tell them yoga is not about perfect poses. It’s not about “being flexible or good”, “right” or “perfect”. Yoga is about removing judgment and being present to who you are now, at this moment.
If you think yoga might be for you, what are you waiting for? Give it a try.
My top reasons why you should start practicing yoga today:
- Practice yoga to awaken dormant muscles and soothe aching body parts.
- Reduce stress levels and insomnia.
- Weight loss and management.
- Improve concentration and ability to focus on one task at a time.
- Increase flexibility and improve posture.
Rumour has it, yoga improves intimacy and sex life (wink).
Chocolako teaches private sessions, corporate events and group classes in Lagos. To practice yoga with Chocolako, check out her teaching schedule at www.chocolako.com.