Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Why I Practice Yoga

Me in Camel Pose 2009.
My first yoga experience was at home with a Rodney Yee DVD. The first time I came into Down Dog I literally yelped with discomfort. After long-distance running for many years my legs and hips were super tight. I wasn't anywhere near being able to touch my toes and stretching was extremely uncomfortable. Yet, somewhere deep inside I felt drawn towards the practice. Then one day, I got up the courage to attend an actual yoga class at my university recreation center. The teacher was a skinny dude with a calm voice and an observant personality. I had a hard time following along with all the lefts and rights. At one point in the class the teacher walked my way leaned over, giggled softly, and asked me in a non-judgemental way, "What are you doing?"  He helped me find the same position as the rest of the class without skipping a beat. I had a really hard time focusing my mind at first. It was hard not thinking about 100 other how stupid my clothes looked compared to the cute clothes on the pretty girls practicing beside me.

Somehow, by the end of the first yoga class I was actually able to listen. I heard the teacher talk about focusing on your breathing and noticing the sensations in the body. He helped us to be really present and mindful of the experience. At one point or another, my hyperactive self-critical mind stopped controlling my experience.  I did something I probably hadn't really done in years...I actually relaxed.

I left that class and felt light, free, and happy. After that class I kept practicing at home and in yoga classes through the rec center several times a week. I discovered that yoga not only helped me feel better in the short term but also with my long-term health goals as well. Chronic low back pain went away, I started eating healthier, my stress levels dropped, and my digestion was stronger. 

Me in a variation of Side-Plank 2013.
Feeling better was and has always been the main reason I practice yoga. When I take the time to practice yoga in some way (it has many forms) I always feel better about myself, my body, and the world around me. When I feel better I am a better person... I have clearer thinking, lower stress levels, and I am more kind to myself and others. 

Some days when I practice I only focus on breathing and poses. Others I only do meditation or chanting. Many days I do all of the above, it just depends upon what I need to balance me out that day. Yoga has this incredible way of being customized to whatever your needs are. I practice yoga because I want to be a healthy happy person. I want to help others, and the best way to help others... is to help myself. :-)

 Be As You Are.

Keri is an internationally Registered Yoga Teacher, creator of yoga props, and health lifestyle educator.  She owns and operates BAYA Wellness, LLC offering yoga classes, handmade props, and healthy lifestyle services. Keri teachers both privately and publicly around the Greenville area offering on-going classes and special events. 

BAYA... Be As You Are! 

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