Why You Should Be Doing Yoga

By on May 5, 2014

I will be the first to admit it; I hated yoga when I first started doing it. A friend of mine referred to it as “hippie karate”, and I thought that was the funniest thing I have ever heard. I used to linger outside of the Moksha Yoga Studio in Halifax, Nova Scotia, A &W Mama burger in hand, laughing at all the sweaty hippies after their “karate” lesson. To me, yoga was painful, boring, annoying, and worst of all, cliche.

I don’t know why it is, but yoga kept finding me. I would be required to do it for a course in school. I would be offered jobs at yoga studios. All of my friends became yoga teachers. There was even a time in my life when the only form of exercise I could handle was yoga. After a repeated, metaphorical sledgehammer over the head, I gave into the peer pressure and started going to classes.

Yoga sounds like just another health craze, doesn’t it? It seems at first glance to be like an untraceable pyramid scheme that pulls everyone into its depths, turning all of those looking for a way to get fit into fitness “sheeple”. I thought that way in the beginning. You couldn’t get me into a yoga class if you paid me. Several years later, I look back on my resistance fondly. Why? Because I would consider myself to a yogi now.

Before you call me a sell out, let me explain to you how my body was transformed. I’ll refer back to the period when it was my only form of exercise. A few years ago, I suffered from severe joint and muscle pain from a chronic illness that was yet to be diagnosed. When I received the official diagnosis, the only exercise I could safely do was yoga. To a gym enthusiast, there was nothing more disheartening than this. I reluctantly returned to the mat and started twisting.

At first, it was horribly unpleasant. I felt like a metal rod that someone was trying to turn into a pretzel. The illness didn’t help, but at my doctor’s advice, I ploughed through. Day by day, little parts of it became easier. My shoulders didn’t creak so much. By legs felt stronger. My abs became tighter. Most of all, I didn’t feel as much pain as I used to.

With two years of consistent practice, this is what I can say about the changes my body has made; my spine is more flexible and I have 80% less back pain, I can do push ups successfully, all of my muscle groups are 68% more toned, my joints very rarely crack, and above all things, I have a greater sense of calm in my every day life. The best thing that I have taken away is my ability to remain grounded despite any strenuous circumstances. With life in the big city being so insane, it’s a blessing and a privilege to be able to find a good, centred perspective and just breathe.

I’m not saying that yoga is for everyone, but if I may use my circumstances as an example, the benefits are unending. We can never let ourselves be defined but what may or may not be a “craze”. Trying new things never killed anyone, so if you’ve never tried yoga, give it a shot. Or if you have, a second shot. Or a third. Something that is truly good for you never feels good the first time, so allow yourself some time to really experience yoga before deciding it’s not for you.

And who knows? You may one day be involved in a “hippie karate” fight. It’s always best to be prepared…

About Lauren Messervey

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