Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lessons from yoga

I am a huge advocate of yoga. Not only does it help tone your body, it also helps relieve stress and tension. I've been to two yoga classes in the last week with the same fabulous instructor, and I've left both classes feeling great. Sometimes if the instructor is too lax, it's hard to feel like you're actually getting a workout in from the class. This is not the case, however, with Karen from Gold's Gym. She has kicked my butt during both classes, and while I may silently groan when she demands what seems like the hundredth crocodile pose, I'm thankful for it the next day when I can feel the resulting strength in my arms.

I think one of the best lessons you can take from yoga comes during final relaxation, which is like a period of meditation at the end of the class. During this time, you're supposed to retreat to your "happy place," if you can excuse my inner hippie shining through. All jokes aside, this place is supposed to be somewhere you can go, or something you can tap into, any time you need. When you're feeling stressed or upset, you just need to envision this place within yourself where you are calm and at peace. When you're feeling weak or overwhelmed, remember the strength you found within your body during the yoga class and channel that into the situation you're in. I always find this so comforting.

Another important lesson from yoga comes in terms of being aware of your breathing. I think it's so helpful when the instructor reminds you to inhale and exhale during certain poses — a deep inhale or exhale can do wonders for your body. Last class, Karen reminded us of this important lesson in breathing when we're confronted with stresses, annoyances or any other problems: Inhale, acknowledge the problem, exhale, let it go. I've read similar advice in magazines — when you find yourself worrying about something, identify the emotion and label it (anxiety, guilt, jealously, etc.), then seal it up in an imaginary box and put it out of your mind.

If you're even remotely interested in yoga, I strongly suggest you try a class or two (try to find a great instructor) and see how you feel when you're done. I think there are even yoga videos on YouTube that you can watch and do from home.


(Also — a very happy birthday to my favorite leap year baby and the best mom in the entire world! Love and miss you lots Mom! xoxo)

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