For YEARS, I have claimed that yoga was not for me. (Pretty similar to how I felt about running before I started running and finished my 10th half marathon in less than 4 years last year.). Really, yoga wasn't for me because it was too quiet and too still. I struggle to sit and relax or be still. To sit and breathe. I'm grateful for a body that can do everything I mentally want it to, but lately I've found a huge need for it in my life.
It started from numerous sessions of intense workouts that my body was sore, a good sore of working and stretching my muscles to new dimensions, but still sore. I longer for an active 'rest' day where I was still working but not putting it through such hard work. I tried yoga with many different instructors and they all left me feeling super weird. I felt like I was becoming one with the earth or tapping into my inner energy and that just didn't feel quite right to me.
So I didn't give up and found a few wonderful instructors that don't talk too much, don't talk too little and build up my mental capacity to just focus on my breath and be still. I was grateful for their instruction.
My body was especially grateful that I kept trying to be successful and enjoy yoga stretching. In between harder workouts, I had the recovery that I needed to keep going and become even stronger.
Now I can perform some of these movements at home with guidance, but the stillness and quiet DOESN'T happen much at home, I mean I have a husband and 4 kids and mom doing yoga ain't normal so they sit and stare and get really weird.
Anyways, at church yesterday a fellow sister shared her feelings about how the world is catching up with our need to be still and listen and feel by promoting yoga and others meditation practices. She reminded us that we have been taught to listen to the Spirit and that we needed to remind ourselves that mindfulness is just that. Through doing yoga, I have learned how to still my mind a little more so that I can feel and know the influences of the spirit a little more than when I'm doing other activities. The more I practice, the more I know it will get better.
In the mean time, I can keep encouraging my boys, yep you read that right, my boys to practice yoga before bed to help calm them down and get a better nights rest. It's a joy to a mother when a child reminds you to pray and ask you to do yoga. I know, I'm pretty lucky!
Try some of these moves and find out for yourself how energizing they can be!
If you love education like I do, please read on to the studied benefits of yoga. IF you're not, that's totally cool too!
Your Brain on Yoga
by: American Council on Exercise
“Yoga is not aerobic in nature, so there must be other mechanisms leading to these brain changes,” she says. “So far, we don’t have the evidence to identify what those mechanisms are.”
She suspects that enhancing emotional regulation is a key to yoga’s positive effects on the brain. Studies link stress in humans and animals to shrinkage of the hippocampus and poorer performance on tests of memory, for example, she says.
“In one of my previous studies, we were looking at how yoga changes the cortisol stress response,” Gothe says. “We found that those who had done yoga for eight weeks had an attenuated cortisol response to stress that was associated with better performance on tests of decision-making, task-switching and attention.”
Yoga helps people with or without anxiety disorders manage their stress, Gothe said.
“The practice of yoga helps improve emotional regulation to reduce stress, anxiety and depression,” she said. “And that seems to improve brain functioning.”
The researchers say there is a need for more—and more rigorous—research into yoga’s effects on the brain. They recommend large intervention studies that engage participants in yoga for months, match yoga groups with active control groups, and measure changes in the brain and performance on cognitive tests using standard approaches that allow for easy comparisons with other types of exercise.
“The science is pointing to yoga being beneficial for healthy brain function,” says Damoiseaux, “but we need more rigorous and well-controlled intervention studies to confirm these initial findings."