Let me just start off by saying one thing: I used to hate exercise. I hated the idea of even lifting one finger for a purpose other than instant gratification. I didn’t hate all physical activity; shopping and running around with friends was always fun. But there was something about having a concrete exercise routine that scared the heck out of me. Exercise required commitment, will power, and loads of motivation. I was scared that I might give up on it if I ever tried it, and I didn’t want to feel that kind of failure.
But this year, something changed. I looked at myself objectively, scrutinizing my every pastime and analyzing my habits as if I were studying a tiny replica of myself through a microscope. I realized my health had taken a turn for the worse somewhere around the time I entered university. I was forced to come to terms with the fact that I haven’t felt my best in a long time. I always felt tense and my stress levels were through the roof. I wasn’t even able to touch my toes anymore. I realized I frequented fast food places all too often and my eating habits were out of sorts. I wanted to make a change, and so I started working out and eating right.
Within a few weeks, I had already begun seeing positive changes in my health. I was feeling stronger every day, and I understood the benefits of living this kind of lifestyle. But I realized I was still hungry for something more; something less structured and automatic, and something more nurturing to the mind and body. I did my research and promptly started practicing yoga every day. I soon realized there was a spiritual side to being healthy that I never even thought I was missing.
Yoga and I became fast friends. It was the hobby I had been waiting for and I didn’t even know it. All my hobbies before I discovered yoga had the same function: to try and distract me from reality for a while in an attempt to help me feel relaxed. However, I wasn’t aware that the real way to reaching a level of relaxation that I could only hope for was not to run away from my life but, rather, to become all the more aware of it. Becoming more conscious of one’s actions and more mindful of one’s surroundings is where true relaxation begins. Yoga is knowing there might be a lengthy to-do list with your name on it taped to the mirror two feet away from you, but acknowledging that you can still make time for yourself, allowing your spirit to indulge in a moment of clarity even in the midst of everyday chaos. Yoga is force and determination in the face of distress. Yoga is waking up from mindless slumber, gaining awareness in every part of life. I grew attached to practicing yoga, as it became a place of solitude and bliss in times of need, a place not even the nagging voices in my head could get to.
If you find yourself stressed or are looking for some sort of outlet, yoga is a great option. Open yourself up to the idea of becoming more in tune with the world that surrounds you, and you will be rewarded tenfold through the practice. Allow yourself to discover your own personal haven through yoga, let it enrich the way you look at the world and the way you look at yourself. You will quickly come to love the way your new hobby makes you feel, both in body and in mind.