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How Yoga Can Change Your Life

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bryant chapter.

Yoga has the power to not only change your body, but also your general mentality. There are so many benefits to frequent yoga practices, these benefits include increased flexibility, strength, metabolism speed, weight loss, energy, happiness and so much more. The most important thing to note about yoga is how it’s not just a physical practice, but a mental one as well. Each time you step to your mat you learn something new about your body, leading to increased awareness. One of the most beautiful things about this form of exercise is no matter who you are, or your body type or age, you can do yoga. There are so many different types of yoga so everyone can find something that works for them. If you are a gym rat who needs a real sweat to feel accomplished, take a heated power vinyasa class. If you want to stretch and feel some intense relaxation, gentle flow classes are the way to go. The more difficult the class the faster the results come, but all of them tone the body and ease the mind.

The increased awareness that comes with consistent practice makes it much easier to make good choices. For example, I noticed how differently my body performed during my practice after eating clean, healthy foods versus when I ate something I usually did not, such as cornbread or tortilla chips. During the practices where I knew I had not nourished my body how I should, my muscles were tired much easier and I would visibly shake from exertion. I did not have the same motivation to push myself to my limits. I couldn’t lift my leg as high, I couldn’t stretch as far, and my balance wasn’t nearly as steady. However, when I ate to fuel my body rather than hinder it, I was at the top of my game. I could hold poses longer with better focus, as well as try new poses with a high expectation for success. For this reason, yoga drives you towards better nutrition because you are extremely aware of how it affects your body. However just like with everything else, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. The better you eat, the better you feel, and the more likely you are to succeed.

Eating meticulously also aids when you are trying to lean out, if losing weight is your goal. If you like to life weights, you may not believe that using your own body weight can be as effective as it really is. If you look at dedicated yogis, there are lean machines. This is not because everyone who does yoga has the same body type, rather, yoga works the body in a natural way that it was meant to be worked leading to a body type that is muscular but not in a bulky sense. Yoga works every muscle in your body and you feel it from the very first practice. There is no need to work different muscle groups since every practice is sufficient workout for all of them that quickly yields results. Even if you feel you can’t do yoga because you “aren’t flexible” that’s okay, your flexibility improves dramatically if you practice for even just a few weeks.

The mind body connection that comes with frequent yoga practices is a reason in itself to practice every day. Working out at the gym can be therapeutic for some, but most people have experienced some level frustration from the gym, whether the issue be that they didn’t want to be there in the first place or they are not performing up to their own standards. Yoga helps reduce the stress of everyday life, something the gym does not always deliver on. For those who have anxiety and/or depression, dealing with your everyday activities seems like a chore and can be a draining experience. Even if you do not have one of the two, everyone has felt the weight of a stressful situation before and has worried about whether or not they could be successful.  Being able to come to your mat and know you don’t have to worry about anything else is a blessing, most college students don’t have an hour of their day to simply take care of themselves. When you pay attention to your breathing and the poses (asanas) that are involved in yoga, you soothe your mind and gradually begin to relieve your worries. For the duration of your practice, your physical self is all you need to worry about. You are present in the moment instead of worrying about what will happen later. The world seems to be more manageable and you begin to believe you can handle whatever life may throw at you. You may think this only happens for some people, but practicing yoga has been proven to modulate stress response systems. This means that we as humans can grow to be more flexible when dealing with stress, something everyone could use more of.

All in all, yoga is one of the best things you can do for yourself. If you need an activity that not only takes care of your physical but also your mental health, yoga is the way to go. It is truly a way of life, and when people believe in this notion, they hold the power to create great change for themselves.

Ana Deacon

Bryant '18

*Insert lyrics to "All Star" by Smash Mouth* Bryant University Class of 2019