How do you know if yoga is right for you?
I’ll cut to the chase: Yoga is right for you!
All kidding aside, yoga can be right for everyone because there are so many different forms and everyone needs to rejuvenate and connect the mind and body. The intention with yoga, however, is different from other forms of exercise. Yoga is designed to shift our energy, to help us find inner peace and get centered.
When I first encountered yoga, I thought it was an interesting way to stretch. Today I consider yoga to be one of my essentials for mental as well as physical wellbeing and I know that millions of people feel the same way.
Yoga is quite a contrast to the other ways I exercise, and that contrast is a good thing. The essence of yoga is to relax, rejuvenate, recharge, release and refresh. I love all that, but I must admit it doesn’t come as naturally to me as the adrenaline rush of my hard-core workouts. I’ve had to teach myself to just let go and appreciate yoga.
People who know me (even a little bit) know I’m a Type A person, which is exactly why my mind, body and spirit crave the relaxation. As busy as we all are, entire days, weeks and months can go by without any time for relaxation. Now I teach yoga and I say to my classes: If you weren’t taking yoga, would you take time for yourself for reflection today?
Just because yoga has a different energy than hardcore workouts doesn't mean yoga class is just gentle stretching. We build power and heat doing Down-Dog flows. We discover our strength in Warrior and Plank. We challenge ourselves with balancing and other advanced poses. But it's all done with a sense of stability and a deeper connection with oneself.
There are many ways to approach being physically active. Sometimes what your body needs most is a hard workout. Other times, it needs a different sort of challenge – one that involves mindfully sitting, lying or standing still for more than a few seconds at a time!
Consider this quote from philosopher and teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, who wrote The Miracle of Mindfulness, Peace is Every Step:
“We can smile, breathe, walk and eat our meals in a way that allows us to be in touch with the abundance of happiness that is available. We are good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house and so on … but we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only there is for us to be alive. Every breath we take, every step we make can be filled with peace, joy and serenity. We need to be awake, alive in the present moment.”