It’s true that New Year’s resolutions get a bad rep. Most of us start with a vague goal without a tangible plan to achieve it while giving it a half-hearted attempt for two weeks before inevitably returning to the old habits, welcoming us with open arms. This year, however, I was determined not to make the same mistakes I had previously. In short, I made a super specific goal to do at least ten minutes of yoga every day. It didn’t matter if it was the first thing I did in the morning or the last thing I did before I went to sleep, I would not conclude my day without some yoga. Now, as the end of February approaches, I find myself rescheduling parts of my day around when I want to do yoga. On both physical and emotional levels, my body feels better. By doing yoga for 60 days (and counting), I’m able to definitively point out ways on both physical and emotional level that yoga has improved my life.
I will be the first person to admit that my posture has never been great. Frankly, between online classes and working remotely, sitting at a desk all day has not been great for my back. In doing yoga every day for just these two short months, I’ve noticed that not only has my posture significantly improved but my back muscles have overall gotten stronger. Having better posture means I’m fidgeting in class less and focusing on assignments more. It’s by no means perfect but I’m no longer experiencing pain in the middle of a lecture because my back is crunched up in a weird way. Even better, it actually feels good to sit up straight.
Better muscle tone
Consistency is the key to improving anything. While my goal isn’t at all to be ripped beyond comparison, it certainly feels good to be able to notice my muscles getting stronger. Yoga is just one of many practices that uses your own body weight on balance with your body’s movement to enhance muscle tone. Having increased strength in your back and core really helps improve your posture but it also helps your body carry itself better. Moving my body with intention and repetition over the last 60 days has shown me that my body is a lot stronger than I thought it was. And I can tell as the weeks go on that I’ll continue to get stronger. Plus, having a healthy level of muscle tone makes me excited to me active outdoors this summer.
No more cracking joints
If you would’ve told me three months ago that my body would soon stop cracking like Halloween glow sticks, I would not have believed you. I don’t know anyone who cracked their joints more than me. I would regularly wake up in the morning and feel my vertebrae crack all the way down my spine, just through the simple task of getting out of bed. Walking up the stairs would make my ankles pop, grabbing things made my wrists snap. Truly, it was equal parts loud and embarrassing, within doing yoga daily for a couple weeks, the cracking mostly stopped. I still have an annoying habit of cracking my knuckles absentmindedly, but I’m not rolling out of bed to the horrible sounds of my entire spinal cord popping anymore. Instead, my stronger muscles began holding my joints firmly in their proper places.
As my muscles grew stronger, my flexibility quickly increased. I think this is why many people get into yoga. The day you can confidently touch your toes for the first time without pain is a beautiful occasion. If there’s anything I’ve learned from the last two months, it’s that everybody can be a yoga body. There’s a whole community of plus-sized yogis on Instagram going into backbends, handstands, splits, you name it. Even the most inflexible person can slowly work their muscles into new positions. The fact that I went from not being able to touch my toes to almost being able to do the splits in 60 days is amazing. The human body is more adaptable than you might realize!
I was astonished at how much tension I was holding in my neck; knots at the base of my skull that I didn’t even realize were there until I began stretching them out. For about six weeks before I began my yoga routine, I had horrible headaches surrounding my entire skull from intense muscle pain in my neck. Something beautiful about yoga is the way it brings awareness of muscles you never realized you were clenching. After doing yoga for a few weeks, I slowly noticed that I wasn’t waking up with migraines anymore. I could move my neck and shoulders freely for the first time in probably too long. I had no idea what was causing my pain until I began intentionally stretching out my upper body and I could not be happier. As I mentioned earlier, yoga is awesome but it’s not a cure-all. I still get headaches and muscle knots sometimes, but they’re absolutely not causing the same degree of pain. Having stronger, more flexible muscles as a whole means that they generally have the strength to stay where they need to be.
Keeping a habit actually feels really good
It goes without saying that COVID restrictions have us feeling cramped, isolated, and unmotivated. I’m not by any means saying yoga is a cure-all for mental fatigue from the pandemic but having one structured part of my day when everything else is so scattered feels great. Keeping a habit that makes you feel good helps you have something to look forward to every day. Personally, I’m more motivated knowing that no matter how stressed or anxious I feel, I will still have accomplished my goal. On those days when I’m really struggling mentally, it feels good to accomplish something, even if it’s just stretching on the floor for 10 minutes.