The yoga victorious

Photo Jan 23, 10 40 56 PM

Just after Christmas, I started a core workout program. Mainly, I just wanted to exercise my core muscles more and tone everything up (bathing suit season is coming soon!), but I also wanted to challenge myself, to work toward a goal.

The workouts are great for feeling the burn, as all workouts should be. I really feel like I’m getting somewhere. But I really felt like I was getting somewhere when the new school semester started and I was back to my yoga class, finally mastering crow pose and even some balancing poses I previously hadn’t been able to hold before. I attribute it to my workouts, of course (pictures of those will be up soon, I assure you).
But sometimes, small victories happen that mean just as much as staying up in crow pose for over 5 seconds without falling on your face.

After a workout the other day, since my mat was already out, I decided to stretch a little bit and do a sun salutation or two while I was warmed up. I’ve been trying to work on my hip flexors lately because the lack of flexibility in them was proving difficult in practice. So at the end of my practice, after a few lunges and pigeons, I sat and let my hips relax in a butterfly pose, while my hands went to my heart. And I breathed. That beautiful, end-of-practice breathing to let everything sink in and let your mind relish in the wonderful treatment you gave it, and your body, in the past minutes.

And then I realized, my calves were on the floor. My heels were pulled in as far as they could go and for the first time, my calves were on the floor. Seems pretty simple, right? Something I probably shouldn’t feel totally ecstatic for, right? But man, it felt like a milestone. I did it!

Namaste all, and may you too be victorious this week.

Studies show yoga benefits mental health disorders

yoga on the beachWhile it’s a well known fact that yoga is beneficial for the body, new studies are now showing that yoga may help fight major mental health disorders. I think the whole of the yoga community already knew this fact, but to see it published in professional print is something else entirely. As a young yogi, I can honestly say that yoga may have saved my young life, or at least my mental health. Countless personal stories reveal that yoga helps to balance one’s life. That’s crazy to think about, right? The idea that practicing a series of poses can help a person’s physical, mental, social and psychological health is really nuts. But yoga is so much more than cool-looking poses. The first thing a yogi does when he or she starts a practice is frees their mind. Breathing becomes a focus of the mind. Breathing connects the mind to the body, and life starts to fade away. That’s also a crazy thought: letting life fade away for however long the practice is, to work on oneself. It’s selfish, even, taking time out of the day to devote solely to oneself. But, studies now show, the benefits are endless to the practice, including opening up extensive mental progression. It has positive effects on mild depression, sleep complaints and “improves symptoms associated with schizophrenia and ADHD in patients on medication.” The review of the studies found that “yoga influences key elements of the human body,” elements that help out the mind in “similar ways to that of antidepressants and psychotherapy.” While drugs and therapy is expensive, yoga is relatively affordable, and it doesn’t have to be done alone. Not only is yoga great for the body, but its benefits of the mind are of even more importance and recognition.

As yoga has become an international sensation, it becomes apparent now why the attraction is so high: everyday it seems, more benefits are discovered in the 5,000-year-old Indian practice.

Link

9 Ways to Master Yourself, & Therefore Life.

Kara-Leah Grant, the author of this post, is an avid yogi and author of The Yoga Lunchbox, an awesome site about making yoga part of your daily life.
One of the most wonderful benefits of yoga is that it frees your mind. As you free your mind, things become less complicated; the strands of your life start to unknot and untangle. We become more self-aware, we become one-with-our-mind, to be totally cliche about it. A lifestyle of yoga becomes a lifestyle of self-actualization and sometimes even new thought processes, like the ones outlined in “9 Ways to Master Yourself.”

Yoga can literally change your life.

I love this post. Well done, Kara-Leah.

C’mon yogi! Get on board!

self portrait eagle pose

eagle pose, self portrait

Right around three years ago, I got a student membership to Gold’s Gym in Pittsburgh. As far as anxiety goes, mine tends to get out of hand when I’m busy and stressed out. Before I went to college, I was a double athlete and able to manage my anxiety because of the physical and mental challenges I was able to engage in as a dedicated athlete. When I left high school, I left the scholar- athlete title behind, and by winter break my first year my anxiety was almost unmanageable. In Gold’s Gym I was not hoping to buff up with weights and machines. Rather, I sought to de-stress and find an outlet for my anxiety other than my poor picked, bitten fingernails. I found that in yoga. By the end of January, I was going to at least three classes a week. I bought a mat, some leggings and soon built my schedule around when I could practice.

Since then, I have taken my favorite poses to three continents other than N. America (and have the pictures to prove it!). This past summer, I took a yoga class on the Naval hospital ship I was living on for three months. I’ve climbed onto rocks and practiced balancing poses at the beach, warrior posed on old lava beds, and recently, I discovered hot yoga.

As I prepare to graduate from college, one of the many things I learned and will take with me is my yoga practice. This blog is a tribute to yoga, of course, and my journey with it as a young woman, aspiring photojournalist, world traveler and workaholic.

Namaste, all.