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A Year of Yoga

wildflowers at sunrise, maremma, italy

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Before my family and I moved to Prague, I enjoyed taking group fitness classes at the local gym. A couple of my favorites included Kickboxing (a way to feel tough and strong and upbeat with about 50 others) and Fitness Yoga (a huge change to the bouncing and pounding of running or other aerobic classes).

For me, the 4 years in Prague meant no group fitness classes, and no gym. That was okay — we made the most of our time in Prague by traveling and riding mountain bikes or cross country skiing through the national forest near our house. But once we returned to the U.S., one of the first things I did was go to the gym. Only then did I realize how much I’d missed it. I’ve long been a distance goer on the elliptical, but I injured my knee and needed to find a different option.

Czech Republic scene in June
Czech Republic, the field and forest near our house

Since last August, I’ve participated in the gym’s free group fitness vinyasa yoga classes between 2 and 4 times a week. I’m still swimming and going to a couple of other fun classes, but yoga has been one of the best things I’ve done in years as far as personal fitness.

The 5 best things I think I’ve gained in a year of yoga:

  • strength
  • flexibility
  • posture
  • health
  • restored sense of quiet

The particular instructor focuses on core, upper body, and lower body strength, as well as extended periods of working on balance. Every time I go, I leave feeling like Gumby — the rubbery green guy who could bend and flex like a rubber band in 1950s tv. Every cell in my body feels like it glows from the inside out.

I’m sure there are 1000 reasons why yoga is good for our health, and while it’s proven to help us in many ways, there are many excuses not to try yoga. Whenever I admit to loving yoga, I hear every reason why not to do it —

  • religious reasons
  • not physically flexible
  • too hard

I think there are a million reasons not to try any one thing in life, but until we actually do try something, we can’t know for ourselves.

These are the things I do know for sure … I am much stronger, leaner, and longer from a year of yoga, and appreciate the quiet hour a couple times a week to challenge myself physically. Statistics err on the side of yoga, too — after 8 weeks, people improve their flexibility by 35%.

Have you tried yoga? What do you think of it? Love it? Sore for 20 days from it? 🙂 Please share in the comments below. Thanks!

7 thoughts on “A Year of Yoga

  1. I was taught the Sun Salutation in my early 20’s and have kept up the practice over the years, albeit sporadic at times. But when I’m in the “flow” I do it every morning, facing my east window. Although I have never been to a yoga class and only know this one series of poses, I find it to be very healing. Whenever I’m out of shape, feel joint pain, stiffness or if I’m generally out of balance I return to this ritual and instantly reap the blessings.

    1. The sun salutation is one of my favorite repetitive sequences, and you’re right, Pheralyn, there are blessings and benefits to doing it. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I love yoga; I’d fallen out of practice and tried again last year. The first class I signed up for I disliked-too much partner work. The second one I took was great, but I got vertigo from it and couldn’t go back. Kinda nervous to try again – I might just practice at home.

    1. You’re right– so much depends on the class and instructor, which is why I keep returning to the same one I love! I hope you find another good fit. Thank you for sharing!

  3. I truly enjoy YOGA! I tried it for the first time a few years ago at our local Y. I don’t do it as often as I should but think about it often and even THINKING of YOGA brings me peace. I have done the Erin Motz 30 day YOGA challenge and really enjoyed it.

    1. It is fun, and different. I agree– the thought of it is peaceful. I hope you find another good class fit. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Yoga does have impressive benefits. And, yes, it does very much depend on the fit between the student and instructor. Some people thrive on a more active (10 Sun Salutations at a time) type of yoga with an emphasis on fast movement while others (including me) prefer a more meditative type of yoga with slow but challenging stretches interspersed with some Sun Salutations in between. Discover what you’re type of yoga is, find the instructor that meets your criteria and it’s guaranteed that you’ll experience amazing results.

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