Now that you’ve heard my journey and passion for yoga (if you haven’t, click here), I thought that I would give you all a break from listening (reading?) to me talk and let you hear from my fellow yogi friends for the next couple of weeks. I asked a few yogi’s that I truly look up to and admire to answer the question:
What has yoga done for you?
Creating a Flexible Yoga Practice, Breanna Shook
Yoga is one of those things that’s always there for you. You can practice every day or forget about it for a year, and it will always be there waiting for you. No matter what you need, your yoga practice is there for you with open, nonjudgmental arms. It’s kind of funny how yoga started out as such a superficial practice for me. Admittedly I started because I wanted a “yoga body” and to learn to do a handstand. I was into it because of the hype, and because at the time (about 5 years ago) I really just wanted to be skinny, fit, and strong. But what I got out of yoga as I transformed over the past 5 years was something totally unexpected.
The funny thing is that yoga has turned into a completely different practice than when I started. I learned that the “yoga body” I was searching for is whatever my body is when I’m doing yoga. It’s all about what’s going on inside – the internal transformation that happens when you least expect it.
I for sure got strong, don’t get me wrong. I learned how to do a handstand, some handstand transitions, and tons of other yoga poses that take a lot of dedicated practice and strength building – but to be honest, I lost a lot of those skills. Once I learned them, I kind of got tired of yoga because I didn’t listen to my body. I beat my practice to death. Looking back over the past 5 years, I realize I turned a lot of my healthy relationships with food and fitness into disordered habits… I struggled with an eating disorder and I was overexercising like crazy. It took me a long time to find the balance I needed to enjoy my yoga practice again – but I got there, and I haven’t looked back.
The biggest thing I learned is that yoga is a practice… You don’t have to be perfect – at anything. You just have to be willing to surrender as a student. Some days you’ll be right on point, performing all of your asanas (poses) with ease. Some days you’ll be as wobbly as the trees on a windy day. Either way, you’re there. You’re doing it. Just by practicing – by showing up on your mat, you can change your entire outlook on health, fitness, and self-awareness. Without yoga, there’s no way I could have learned to listen to my body the way I do now. When I’m stressed, I find my breath, the way I learned in yoga. When I feel tight and stiff in my body, I stretch it out on my mat. When I need to feel powerful, I practice my asanas and work on new poses.
Yoga – ironically – is a flexible practice. It’s there for you whenever you need it, in whatever form you need it in. It opens the door to meditation and increased self-awareness. It clears your mind, calms your body, empowers your soul, and makes you stronger in every way possible. I encourage everyone I know to start a yoga practice, and it’s something I’ll always make time for – because it makes me who I am today, and keeps me grounded in who I want to be.
Bree Shook, 22 years old, been practicing yoga for 4 years
Bree is a bubbly, inspiring health coach teaching women to love their bodies (and) their food. Her purpose is to help you create a healthy lifestyle that works for YOU, so you can stop worrying about your diet and focus on what you LOVE.
I’ve been practicing yoga since I was in my early 30’s. I didn’t have the patience and appreciation for yoga when I was younger that I do now. I didn’t realize all of the health benefits yoga had to offer. I felt I needed cardio to justify a good workout. Now that I am older I realize the importance of not only the physical benefits of yoga but the mental benefits as well.
While I practice all forms of exercise (run, spin, conditioning) yoga is the component that brings them all together and keeps me healthy and prevents injuries. I really need yoga for recovery, stretching, strength.
I fully began to value yoga when I had a difficult season in my life. Coming to my mat was very therapeutic and a way for me to shut out everything going on in my life. It helped me emotionally and enabled me take care of my physical health, but most importantly, my mental health. I am so grateful each time I come to my mat and always start my practice with gratitude that I am able to take care of my body and my mind.
Gina Conrad is an amazing mom (to me) and role model. She is 47 years old and has been practicing yoga for over seventeen years.
Yoga Journey, Hayden Claire
My yoga journey began when my cousin brought me to my first class at the CorePower Yoga studio in Oak Park. Although I grew up very active and involved in many different sports, I had never done any yoga so I didn’t really know what yoga truly was or what it entailed, but I had known for a while that I wanted to try it out. So, when my cousin asked me if I wanted to go with her to her studio, I was super excited/nervous about it. Excited because I was finally going to be able to try it out, but nervous because I had no clue what to expect.
After taking just that first class, I knew yoga was something that I wanted to keep doing and learning more about. I signed myself up for a membership and started taking classes every single day – sometimes even twice a day. I never dreamed that it would have become such a huge part of my life, but to this day I am still taking classes almost every day of the week and would not have it any other way.
As I am sure many of my fellow yogis also feel, yoga has truly changed my life for the better. Besides having the opportunity to come to a place each day to meet more & more amazing people who share the same joy and passion for life as I do, I have also gained so much physical and mental balance since starting my practice. The time that I spend on my mat each day is so much more than just sweating and stretching in a hot room; it is a place where I can turn inward and practice patience, balance and strength. I can honestly say that being on my mat is my ‘happy place’ and is where I feel I can be my complete self, away from any judgment. This same place allows me to let go of the things in my life that do not serve me, while at the same time allowing me to find more gratitude in the things that do.
To sum it up, yoga has helped me in so many ways and I am so thankful that I walked into that first class three years ago. I am certain, and look forward to, yoga continuing to be an essential part of my life.
My name is Hayden Claire, I am 21 years young and I have been practicing yoga for approximately three years.