9 Ways Yoga Makes My Life Better

7:41:00 PM

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I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed the other day when I came across this observation by a friend: "Yoga is to grown women as ballet is to little girls." 

I get the analogy, but I think the appeal is different. That more people, not just women, are getting into the practice has more to do with our lifestyles than our childlike aspirations (as it is with little girls and ballet).

9 Ways Yoga Makes My Life Better | Awesome in Manila

Nowadays, a successful and ideal life is measured against how much we have on our plates, how many hyphens our professional titles can accommodate, our yearly phone upgrades and our ability to balance work, life and the things in between. Rarely do we slow down—as in really slow down, travel and leisure not included—to breathe, check up on ourselves and enjoy an unhurried day. And we're just so used to that life, we love it even, that we are surprised when it finds a way to let us know that our bodies, minds and spirits can only take so much beating.

It was in the middle of a stressful season that I found myself drawn to yoga. For the longest time, I saw its routines as too boring to be considered as an actual workout but recently, I’ve come to appreciate its single-minded movements. I realized that it's actually a good thing to be focused and not be so many things at the same time. When I do yoga, I feel grounded and forced to ignore the pressures of this ~millennial life.

I think many of us are in danger of consuming ourselves to death. We all need to take a moment every day to regroup with our sanity and figure out how to maintain our well-being in this dog-eat-dog world. That moment doesn't have to be yoga (or only yoga) for you but if you're considering to try it out, let me offer you more insight into what it can help you achieve:

1. That beautiful thing called mindfulness. I have the attention span of a squirrel. I find it hard to focus on any single activity and yoga aids in being conscious of the present. (Earphones and a good Spotify playlist help, too.) I used to take pride in being a multi-tasker until I discovered that sometimes, I accomplish more when I go through my to-do list one item at a time.

2. Clearer mind = calmer mind. While I don’t see it as a spiritual experience, yoga is a great mental training. There are a lot of routines for relaxation and focus. Even the most onerous sets make provisions for meditation. To be able to get on with your practice, you are encouraged to let go of emotions and thoughts that do not serve you in that moment. And the effects extend to after-workout: Bye insomnia! Bye anxiety attacks! Bye drama!

It's not all about the mind. Yoga is a great physical workout, too:

3. Yoga makes me want to eat healthy. Healthy is a relative term to me. I can never give up MSG-laden, oily food, OK? But since I started doing detox routines, I have lost the urge to overeat and felt the need to incorporate more fruits into my non-diet.

4. I feel more flexible and balanced! After how many months, I can finally reach my toes during forward fold! (That’s a big deal to me, considering the obstacle that is my muffin top.) On some downward dogs, my feet is now able to rest flat on the floor! I can’t wait for when I can finally do splits and touch my head with my toes.

Which brings me to the most common excuse I've heard people say to get themselves out of even trying: "But I'm not flexible!" GIRL. You don't have to be. I used to think this way out of intimidation over poses, but the ability to twist your body parts in the weirdest ways shouldn't define your practice. I learned that yoga is not about perfecting poses or getting it right the first time. It's allowing your body the freedom to feel good while finding balance and stretch that could benefit you in more ways than having an Instagrammable moment.

5. It’s a great warm-up for other activities. Because yoga is a good training for core strength, breathing, flexibility and balance, it serves as a great starter for more rigorous activities. I breathe better while running and swimming, ache less after some plyometrics, and feel more ready to try out new things like wall climbing, rafting and surfing.

6. I still can’t do more complicated poses than this bird but hey, that’s OK. Yoga is a very forgiving practice. It’s not competitive. It encourages practitioners to explore beyond their current capabilities but not at the expense of discomfort.

9 Ways Yoga Makes My Life Better | Awesome in Manila

Because it’s all about finding what feels good, I’m able to move on to the next level in my own time and terms. Yoga helps me get to know my body better, so I can get it to do what I never thought it can.

7. I get more kick out of morning yoga than the strongest cup of coffee. I love my coffee the way Homer loves his donuts but TBH, coffee has never been successful at jerking me out of snooze mode. A good stretch, though, wakes up both my body and my mind. I walk out with a steady energy that usually lasts ’til EOD.

That and:

8. A little every day goes a long way. The thing about yoga is it's a good complement to a busy lifestyle. You can do it for only a few minutes a day but you will feel the benefits throughout.

Last but not the least:

9. Yoga pants are the best thing since bacon, pizza, Nutella and Bed Bath and Beyond's comforters. I don’t think they’re the most stylish things ever but yoga pants are in the running for most comfortable!

9 Ways Yoga Makes My Life Better | Awesome in Manila

Now, getting started is another topic. If you'd like to give it a go, the first step is to find a teacher. There are a handful of yoga studios all over the metro to choose from, on top of a wide resource of DVDs and Youtube videos. (I follow Yoga with Adriene and Yoga Solutions with Tara Stiles.) The second isn't recommendable but if you're confident that you can wing it, I don't see why you shouldn't at least try. (It's cheaper to do yoga at home, anyway.)

Let's talk!

Do you practice yoga? How does it affect your everyday life? Do you go to a studio or do you DIY? Discuss in the comments!

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