Thursday, June 18, 2015

Yoga in the City: How Yoga Helps You Find Peace in a Busy World

Errands. Meetings. Chores. That family reunion you just can’t skip. Your friends’ dinner that you all planned weeks in advance. The dirty laundry you can pile no higher waiting for you at home.

With the myriad of responsibilities being a mature adult entails, can you really find peace in the midst of all the noise of everyday life?

It’s a sad common practice to forego your much-deserved alone time especially when there’s an important deadline looming over your head. But finding peace isn’t just a luxury—it’s a necessity. Unfortunately, in the hustle and bustle of the world today, slowing down and quieting the mind does not come easy. If you’ve ever craved for peace within a toxic life, here’s how yoga can save the day.

1. Yoga is peace for the body and peace for the mind.

Despite all of the unticked boxes in your to-do list, the most important thing you should do to find peace is to make a solid effort to squeeze in some exercise in your life. But unlike other workouts where you constantly beat yourself up and come out more exhausted than when you came in, yoga works you up and relaxes you towards the end at the same time. It pushes your body to its own limit without comparing yourself to others. It not only liberates your body by helping you discover opening poses, but it also liberates your mind by helping you focus simply on what you can and cannot do.

You don’t have to fold like a pretzel or look like a supermodel, either. Yoga is for any age, for all shapes and sizes. Your first shot at a proper Downward Dog may feel like you’re setting yourself up for a clumsy disappointment, but don’t pressure yourself. Eventually, you’ll find your hamstrings loosening and your posture aligning. Your mind will start to clear as soon as you accept that you are following your own pace, and that’s when you begin to achieve peace for both your body and your mind.

2. Yoga increases your overall health.

Staying put and doing nothing but breathing in and breathing out has never been my thing. For one, I have never been a sporty gal. For another, I always thought yoga was just some spiritual mumbo-jumbo practiced by socialites who had too much free time in their hands. But thanks to a friend of mine who oh-so-efficiently convinced me to give one Vinyasa Yoga class a shot, I am now a hooked newbie yogi and I don’t ever want to stop.

Contrary to popular belief, yoga actually brings about countless health benefits, which includes muscle toning, weight loss, improved cardiovascular activity, cartilage and joint protection, and boosted immunity. The numerous twists, backbends, and forward bends keep the spine supple, while the asanas that require you to lift your body weight such as the Crane Pose, Shoulder Stand, Head Stand, and Plank Poses strengthen your bones. Twisting poses and inversions like the Wheel and the Plow poses get your heart pumping and improve your breathing. All of these and more, plus the convenience of practicing your flow pretty much anywhere with some free floor space, make yoga the perfect workout for overall health.

3.Yoga is all about slowing down, relaxing, and focusing on the present.

All that stretching helps ease tension in your limbs and releases toxins from your body. When you’re sitting in front of a computer all day, there’s stiffness everywhere from your wrists to your shoulders down to your lower back. Yoga makes you more aware of these tensed muscles and trains you to relax them. Sure, you’ve got tons of paperwork or a big presentation waiting for you at the office tomorrow, but that’s no reason for you to keep replaying your checklist over and over in your head right before you sleep. You’ll need all the rest you can get, and because of your newfound ability to meditate and focus on your deep breathing, yoga helps you sleep better, too.

4.Yoga builds your self-esteem and boosts emotional wellbeing.

Because your regular practice enlivens the body and quiets the mind, you learn to let go of your stress, anger, frustrations, worries, and fear. These negative thoughts that pave the way to heart attacks and high blood pressure can all be avoided as yoga builds your inner strength. Linda Schlamadinger McGrath from California-based YogaSource Los Gatos says that “Practicing in a group setting, such as a yoga class, stimulates the production of oxytocin, the love and bonding hormone. Practicing mindfulness through yoga and meditation also results in higher serotonin levels (the happiness hormone), and long-term practitioners have shown more mass in the areas of the brain associated with contentment.” Yoga not only makes you glow on the outside, it also makes you bloom on the inside by helping you live a happier, healthier, and more contented life.

5. Yoga is being good to yourself and loving who you are. 
The moment I first slipped into my tight tights and laid out my sweaty mat, all my preconceived notions about yoga were immediately chucked out the window. No, yoga wasn’t just about sitting and stretching and thinking happy thoughts. No, it wasn’t a walk in the park where I wouldn’t even break a single sweat. And no, it wasn’t something I could breeze through and dismiss as another post-modern fad that had no real meaning and would eventually die a natural death once the hype had passed.

No, yoga wasn’t any of those at all.

Yoga is challenging, calming, liberating. It is dynamic, painful, therapeutic, and freeing. It is all of those things and more, but most importantly, it is all about loving. Yoga strengthens your love for yourself, and it’s all about learning how to accept your flaws instead of rejecting them, and about how to be kind to your own body instead of pushing it past its limits. It is non-competitive, and for a compete newbie who’s never had any kind of sport in her whole life, yoga is the essence of perfection. An article by yogi Taylor Jenkins Reid once said that in a yoga class, “I’m not there to be good at something. I’m there to be good to myself.” And in this hectic world we live in today, that just might be exactly what we need.

This article was first seen on The Philippine Online Chronicles HERE.

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