Tuesday, May 26, 2015


I wanted to write a blog about yoga...but I'm not an expert "Yogi," or whatever you want to call it. I've been doing yoga for about two years now and, to be honest, I don't do it every single day. There's times where I'm too tired or just don't have the time to fully commit to a yoga practice. However, as of recently, I've fallen back in love with yoga.

I'm not the most flexible, most athletic, or most fit person...but yoga really helps me feel better; body and mind. For me, yoga isn't about getting into the "perfect" pose you may see on a magazine cover or something. It means exploring and finding what feels the best for your own body, where it is, in
whatever moment you're in. Since I've started yoga, I have almost no back pain. In fact, back pain was the reason I decided to try out yoga in the first place. I've even started to notice small differences in my knee pain as well. It's amazing!

Yoga is NOT, by any means, an "easy" work out. It so isn't. I think the longest yoga work out I've done has been about 45 minutes, and that's with breaks in between hard poses. Yoga reminds me to be gentle with myself and the thoughts I have about myself. For example, I may think, "God, Dana. You can't even get into this pose. What's wrong with you?!" But then, I'll gently remind myself that I get better every time I step onto my yoga mat. There's nothing wrong with not being able to have the "perfect" tree pose (or any other pose...tree is just particularly difficult for me).

Once I've reminded myself of this, I can carry on this same notion of 'being gentle with myself,' throughout the rest of my day. For instance, if I'm in a social situation and am embarrassed just by my own awkward-self, I try to remind myself that I'm perfectly fine the way I am, awkwardness and all.

In fact, my boyfriend even says that's kind of why he loves me.
Now everybody at once: 1, 2, 3..."Awwwwwwwwwwh."

I'm not religious, by any means. It's not to say that having a religion/faith/organization/etc. isn't a good thing-- I believe it can be for some people.  Although I don't have a set, organized religion that I follow, I do believe in spirituality. Yoga helps me to connect to that spiritual-side, especially in those quiet or resting moments where I can really sink into a pose or focus on my breath. 

Sometimes it can be something as simple as placing my hands together at my heart, closing my eyes, and breathing deeply. Sometimes when I do this, I feel better connected and grounded to this crazy thing we call life. I feel calmer, more motivated, and even happier. I feel like I'm right where I'm supposed to be when I finish a yoga practice; that I'm better equipped to live life in the moment. 

Yoga also reminds me to be mindful. The entire practice seems to be focused around being aware of the ground beneath your feet (and at times, hands), feeling the blood pump through your heart, feeling your breath move through you and help guide your practice. All of these things are encouraging in order to be more mindful, both in yoga practice and outside of it. 

For example, even if I come into contact with a rude person in my day, I remind myself that there has to be a reason that person is that way. It probably isn't anything I've done and nothing I can control, but he or she is carrying an invisible load on their back that no one else can see. Of course I get annoyed at rude people, I'm only human. However, I try to remind myself to be mindful of what that person may be going through. It helps with how I choose to react to that person.

Yoga sometimes can make a bad day turn into a good one. Or at the very least, it can help make a bad day not suck quite as much. My mood can sometimes dramatically improve when I do yoga. I like to
do yoga first thing in the morning, not a heavy or particularly long session, but yoga nonetheless. It helps wake me up and get my body and mind moving, ready to start the day. It can even do the opposite of this, help me to relax so I can get to sleep. I always have loved doing a relaxation/unwinding/ etc. yoga practice before bed, especially if I'm stressed out or anxious. Not only am I better able to fall asleep, but the sleep is deeper and more restful.

Speaking about anxiety, yoga is amazingggg for anxiety. As I said before, it helps to connect me to my breath and push away any negative thoughts, especially those that are aimed at myself. I find my anxiety likes to do that a lot, give my brain thoughts that deal with: shame, guilt, belittling, doubt, etc...and those thoughts are all aimed at my abilities to do certain tasks in life. I know none of them are true, but sometimes it's hard to remember that when the anxiety-monster is in full swing. Yoga definitely helps my brain calm down and I don't feel as panicked when I'm able to breathe, I mean really breathe

Goals For Myself
Again, I'm not a professional "yogi" or "yoga-master." In fact, some of the things yoga can express at times, like sticking out your tongue and breathing like a lion (it's a real thing, google it), is just too weird for me. But for the most part, I absolutely love what yoga has done for my life.  One day, I'd love to be able to do really cool yoga poses like a wheel barrel pose or even some inversion poses.
I'm just not there yet, and that's okay. Hell, I'd be happy if I could get my feet all the way to the mat when I practice downward facing dog. My main goal for yoga is to just keep at it. To not forget how good it makes me feel when I'm doing it and when I'm finished.

Here are some yoga videos I love:

There's a lot more, but Youtube is an amazing resource for anyone interested in yoga. Just type whatever yoga routine you want, chances are, there's a video for it!

Don't forget to breathe.

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