I discovered that I love yoga! It’s so calming, natural and empowering, and reaches so many levels of my being. It works my body inside and out, enhances my breathing, frees my mind, invigorates my mood, relieves my stress, and all while giving me a sense of well being. And, because it meets you wherever you are, anyone can reap these same benefits: men, women, young, old, sedentary, active, healthy or unhealthy.

It all started when I was trying to think of something my daughter and I could do to get some consistent time together. I asked the girl child for some ideas and she said, “I want to do yoga”. Yoga. The images of contorted bodies, sore muscles, and hard work came to mind: that, followed by a sense of challenge.

My search for a local class was met with failure. That’s when I found, a free online yoga site chock full of yoga classes, poses, and challenges. Forget the expensive, wrong time to meet, get-in-my-car-to-go-too-far-from-my-house-classes. I had found gold!

I vividly remember sitting on a folded up blanket watching my first yoga practice stream across the TV in my living room. A yoga trainer sat peacefully on a mat in a large, warmly decorated studio directing me to expand my ribcage, fill my lungs, and breathe deeply. That was when I first realized how shallow my breathing was; it actually took conscious effort for me to constantly inhale for more than the count of four or five! But I persevered and found myself enjoying the slower pace and the tranquil mood it generated.

As the practice came to an end, I was introduced to Savasana, or Corpse Pose.The yoga trainer’s soothing voice instructed me to lay down on my back, close my eyes, and rest for a full three minutes … in silence. I had to open my eyes and look over because I thought the video had frozen. We shifted positions and enjoyed another minute of restfulness. What? Being still and relaxing is a vital part of the yoga practice? Sign me up! I was genuinely surprised by the sheer joy and contentment I felt as I indulged myself in this truly peaceful and restorative space. Aaaaahhhh.

That was the beginning of my yogamance.

I encourage you to try it out for yourself. There are classes designed for all around beginners, as well as specific classes for stress-relief, rejuvenation, back pain, bedtime, energy, the spine, the heart, and many other areas. Find a class near you or be like me and go online. On the site there are beginner, intermediate and advanced classes of various lengths, with a variety of instructors; as well as 14-day and 30-day challenges to get you in the groove. There’s something for everyone.

It’s been almost a year since my discovery and I’ve been practicing yoga on and off since then. I’ve learned that yoga can be many things: tranquil and restorative, active and vibrant, deep and penetrating. I can see it becoming more of a lifestyle for me as I strive for consistent practice, better habits, and commitment to it. I’m learning about how my body works, what it needs, and of course, new yoga terms. There is so much yet to discover and my journey of personal growth is never-ending. So, too, can be yours.

Some of the Many Benefits of Yoga

Physically, yoga is known to Increase flexibility, muscle strength, and tone; improve respiration, energy, and vitality; help maintain a balanced metabolism and weight; detoxify your organs; perpetuate cardio and circulatory health, including lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar; help with chronic pain; and improve athletic performance while protecting the body from injury.

Mentally and emotionally, yoga helps reduce mental stress, improves cognitive functioning, gives clarity to your being, sharpens concentration and memory, and helps combat depression and insomnia.

The increased intake and forms of breathing have been shown to help improve cellular health, reduce asthma symptoms, feed the body much needed oxygen, and increase the release of the feel good hormones serotonin and oxytocin.

{Disclaimer: Any exercise may be a risk to your physical health and safety if not done properly. Consult a physician prior to using any equipment, engaging in any exercise, yoga program or activity, or undertaking any food or diet program.}

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