Yoga: Engaging Exercise to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

2019-06-29 12:17:34

In an increasingly busy world, it seems harder to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Between work, school, or other commitments, who can find the time to go to the gym? What’s more, motivation seems harder to come by in the work-centered society. The gym doesn’t seem worth our time if we could head home and get the sleep we need or catch up on the latest season of our favorite show.

My Relationship With Exercise


As a 21-year old college student, I often feel discouraged by the obstacles that arise when I set my mind to exercising. However, I feel better after exercise than I ever would if I went home and crashed. I feel lucky to have found an engaging form of working out I love: yoga. The most common question I receive is, “how do you find time to exercise with everything you do?” The answer is simple: I have to. Exercising is a priority with the stress of college and working. I started practicing yoga for beginners three years ago as a way of coping with stress and anxiety. Now, I feel physically more fit and can maintain a calmer mental state, even when life gets busier than I would like .

Benefits of Yoga



Short-Term


Yoga is engaging and approaches wellness by looking at the whole body. When I arrived at college, I wasn’t necessarily out of shape, but I never imagined how much better I could feel on a day to day basis by increasing my awareness of the stress I was putting on my body. What’s more, I didn’t know that I could step away from the chaos of life for a little bit. With time, stepping into my mat would become routine.

Long-Term


Those that practice yoga also observe yoga benefits such as a more positive self-image, increased heart health, awareness of food intake, weight loss and increase in metabolism, better balance, reduced pain, and a more mindful approach to life . You can find a comprehensive overview of yoga benefits here as studied by students at the Harvard school of medicine .

Day to Day


When I left for college, I never would have imagined that extreme stress would drive me to start yoga. Over time, yoga became built into my routine no matter how I was feeling. I’ve done yoga laughing with my best friends or crying on my mat; the practice helps you find a literal and metaphorical balance. I first found myself on a yoga mat as a way of coping with the stress of college. I have braved the freezing winds of Northeastern winter nights to get to the gym because I genuinely enjoy yoga as a way of staying healthy. The practice addresses balance, strength, stamina,  and flexibility in a way that’s adaptable for people of different skill levels and ages. Yoga can be as social as you want( or don’t want) and imparts not only physical health but encourages mental health outside of class, too.

Setting Expectations


Many people never set foot in a yoga studio because they have no idea what to expect. The most essential expectation you can have for yourself is no expectation! Most seasoned yogis will tell you that setting one expectation for yourself is very limiting. Every day on the mat is different, and one of my favorite aspects of yoga is the encouragement to meet yourself wherever you are. We don’t encourage each other to do this in society very often, if at all. I love this positive, accepting aspect of yoga. It offers a balance to another idea: every time we step on that mat is a chance to improve some. These philosophies yoga is based around are very individualistic and encourage acceptance of one’s personal journey. If you’re a tentative newcomer to the ages-old practice of yoga, here’s an idea of what your first time in a yoga studio will be like- and what to look for.

Types of Yoga


Over the centuries, many practices of yoga have evolved. Among some of the most popular are hatha, vinyasa and yin. Yoga benefits range from mental and physical strength to flexibility and relaxation. If you’re looking for a more relaxing practice, look for a hatha or yin class. If you’re looking for a more strenuous workout and aren’t afraid to dive right in, vinyasa is for you.

Yin


Yin is geared more towards yoga benefits such as flexibility and mindfulness of the body and breath, holding poses for up to 3-5 minutes. Yin can be very helpful for anxiety or a busy mind and therapeutic for muscles as well. However, it’s always good to be mindful of your limitations.

Hatha


Hatha yoga tends to provide a more balanced approach to yoga. You will move through a series of asanas, or poses that are usually somewhat strenuous. However, the practice also focuses on breathing techniques to ease the yogi into meditation. In this way, yoga benefits of hatha yoga are physical and mental.

Vinyasa


One of the most popular forms of yoga in the western world, vinyasa focuses on going through a sequence of poses with relative ease. The practice acknowledges it takes time and individual adjustment to be comfortable with your vinyasa and encourages mindful breathing to work through the challenges of the practice.

Finding a Community of Fellow Yogis


Age


Depending on what phase of life you’re in, different studios can suit your needs. Many universities offer free yoga classes, among other fitness offerings. Free classes can be perfect yoga for beginners since most students attending their university’s class will be of varying skill levels. Classes of varying degrees of difficulty are usually offered in all places, as well. If you’re an adult and just getting into yoga, going to a class with an interested friend at the local recreation center or a gym nearby can be the perfect way to get your toes wet. For everyone, it’s great to keep in mind that most cities of some size offer free yoga classes.

Practice-Specific Experiences


If you’re looking for a particular practice to try, take to google and search for well-reviewed studios in your area. Depending on where you live, studios can be an economical option. It’s your choice if you want to spend a little more on a studio for a different experience- the practice is yours.

For Travelers





The writer pursuing her wanderlust with some friends




More and more, people are uprooting and moving countries, putting roots down in new places or not putting roots down at all. One of yoga’s benefits is its ability to root you in the present moment no matter what’s going on in your life, which is why most major cities and tourist areas have studios for expatriates. Keeping up a yoga practice is doable no matter where you are- and it’s a great way to meet new people. Read more here about the benefits of doing yoga while on the move- literally.

Finding Your Center


Everyone walks a different path in life-and in their yoga practice. Where you practice, how you practice, and where you’re at are highly individualistic. You’re never alone in your journey-the world is full of yogis striving to find their physical centers in every asana and their metaphorical centers through breathing and mindfulness. If you choose to try yoga, you’ll find your own path on which to walk and enjoy this engaging way to stay fit. Namaste!

Camille Prairie

I’m a 21-year-old living in Buenos Aires, originally from the US. I enjoy this beautiful city as a wonderful way to have fun and meet new people, while staying fit running around the different barrios, practicing yoga and hiking when I travel around the country. I work as an Emergency Medical Technician in the United States and am almost done with my biology degree.

camilleprairie.com