Happy Yogis - Does Yoga Make You Happy?
If you’re a yoga sceptic, like I was, please keep reading and at least keep your mind open to this meditative practice. Until two months ago, I hadn’t done any yoga before. In fact, I turned my nose up at people who went to yoga class and the idea of referring to yourself as a yogi was downright sinful. Except now, I am a yogi. I would never, ever refer to myself as such in public (with the exception of this blog, it seems) but I cannot deny that I now am one. Two months ago, coinciding with my move to a new town, I started doing yoga. And, unlike any other form of exercise I have tried to build into my daily routine, this one stuck.
I get up at 6am, do thirty minutes of yoga and then get on with my day. Every day. Saturdays and Sundays included. Usually, when I go on a fitness kick, I have to cajole myself to do anything after the first few mornings but with yoga it’s different. Why? Because of how I feel when I’d doing it, I suppose. I don’t know if it was the fact that I managed to find a video series on YouTube which isn’t presented by a typical (annoying) yogi or because of the fact that I now live in a much more relaxed, laid back and, frankly, yogi-town. Yoga offers me time to connect with myself in a way I haven’t done before. There are a wide variety of yoga practices to choose from including relaxation styles and more rigorous, sweat-inducing workouts. Mine is probably somewhere in between. The practices certainly warm up my body but there is also enough time to sit, reflect and connect.
It has only been two months since I started doing yoga every morning but I am already feeling a fundamental change. Unlike any other form of exercise I have done at the start of my day, yoga seems to put me in the right mindset to be productive for the next ten hours. Going for a run or doing a cardio workout is great and I can look back at lunch time when I’m eating a chocolate bar and justify the treat because I ‘worked out’ but it’s not the same. Yoga puts me in a different headspace, and it is from here that I am seeing notable changes in my life. I feel more connected to my body, my needs and the world around me in a way that allows me to make choices which benefit all three.
In addition to the spiritual side of yoga, I am also already feeling the benefits within my physical body. Aside from being able to do several press ups and hold plank for far longer than ever before, the practice has done wonders for my back. As a writer who sits at a desk all day long, I had been noticing my back beginning to ache. Yoga has taught me better posture which I find myself standing in when I’m queuing in a shop or standing on the bank of the river as well as when I’m tapping away at the keyboard. It seeps into the rest of your life, unconsciously, and fundamentally alters so much more than just the order of my day. Bad posture has been linked to our moods as well as spinal problems. Sitting hunched over or slouched is a subconscious link to how we feel. Straightening our backs, putting our shoulders back and standing tall shows ourselves and everyone around us that we’re ready to face the world.
Yoga has been proven to reduce stress, anger and fatigue. And the best thing about it is the results are instantaneous. Within a few days of doing your first yoga practice, you will feel the changes and you will be in a happier, healthier place. Linked intrinsically with yoga is the practice of training your breath to match the movements. Scientific research has shown an awareness and connection to our breath is a great way to lower stress as well as getting in touch with your body and its needs.
I am happier since I started doing yoga. It may also be the fact that I moved, that I got a promotion and that I’m living in my favourite place in the whole world. All of these factors will have contributed to my overall happiness levels. But I can’t help but think that the biggest internal change has come from my yoga practice. I’m still learning, I still have a long way to go and there’s no way I’ll be attending a public class any time soon (my inflexibility is embarrassing … but lessening). For now, I’m going to stick to my routine, improve my technique, learn to connect to my body and the world around me in the yogi mindset. And one day, perhaps, my heels will touch the floor in downward dog.
Go. Do. Experience. More Good Deeds.