Namaste On Track This Year

by Dana Hirsch


You can do anything for ten days, right? While many of us pile up new year’s resolutions we can’t keep for a whole year anyway, I stuck with something more tangible: doing yoga for at least 20 minutes every day for ten days. This is neither a big time commitment, nor a long term threat and yet it was nothing short of life-changing.

Benefits of yoga include increased flexibility, improved respiration, energy, and vitality, as well as maintaining a balanced metabolism and weight reduction, according to osteopathic.org. My experience, however, reached further than the list of benefits you can find when you google what good things yoga can do for you.

Something I noticed no later than day three was that I felt overall calmer. Yoga isn’t just about stretching and strengthening but also about breathing consciously while practicing. Certain movements require one to breathe in, others to breathe out, always maintaining a rhythm of long and deep breaths. Once one does that for a few days, it becomes almost automatic.

I often find myself stressing out about things I have no control over and a simple “just don’t think about it” never really does the trick. In yoga the idea is to be present in one’s breath, to listen to the sound, to focus on how breathing feels. This is the technique I have since adopted for stressful situations and so far, it’s worked like a miracle.

Another thing I noticed around day five was that I felt more focused. In my yoga practice using an app to provide audio and visually guided poses in an order that makes sense to someone who knows about the science part of yoga, I was given clear instructions on what is important for each particular pose which allowed me to keep my focus.

It’s easy to lose sight of what aspect of a situation or task to focus on and often we are unable to identify a lack of focus as the cause of not finding a good solution. Practicing this kind of focus in yoga made it easier for me to find my focus when dealing with personal and professional problems on a daily basis.

Going to sleep also seemed easier. According to doyouyoga.com, yoga can activate the “parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) [which helps us] get to sleep and stay asleep.” Breathing exercises helped, too. My new favorite is the duct tape of stress and sleep related problems: breathe in for four seconds, hold for two, breathe out for four, and hold for two seconds. Repeat.

Besides achieving many of the benefits my google search showed me, I also felt overall better about myself. Many students have little time to go to the gym and no money to pay for guided fitness classes so that daily workout in January turns into a weekly activity in February and by March it’s back to doing absolutely nothing.

Using an app to practice in the comfort of my own home made it more feasible to work out daily. A 20-minute yoga practice easily fit into my busy schedule. Choosing a sport that won’t tire me out completely or make me super sweaty made it more appealing for me to get motivated to put on my yoga pants and practice.

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