I know I am late to the party, but over the quarantine, I finally got hooked on yoga.
Before the quarantine, I had done yoga formally a couple of times — for a family activity, as a guest at a friend’s studio, and perhaps a couple of other unmemorable moments. Though I enjoyed my experiences at the classes, I decided it was not for me. I was “too athletic”, “too busy” and “could not afford it”. After only three weeks of practice, I still do not consider myself a determined devotee. I don’t think I’ll ever do it for much more than recreation, but even in that capacity yoga has been an awesome addition to my lifestyle.
Yoga and your mental health.
Since beginning practicing my body and mind have been more at ease and I feel more comfortable in my skin. The stretching and poses have made me more in tune with my body. After each session I feel my posture improving and my flexibility heightened. I still can’t do a lot of the poses, but that is not my goal. I am embracing the breathing and exercise and it has made me better. For example, after experiencing some anxiety at the start of the pandemic, including stress-induced chest pains and insomnia, the breathing that yoga calls for has reduced my symptoms. It relaxes me and gives my brain some time to not think.
There is no such thing as “too athletic” or “not fit enough”.
I realized that one cannot be “too athletic” to move your body in a new way. Yoga opens up my hips and shoulders, allowing me to use muscles that I never knew I had — if only I could have used those while I was still on a sports team in college. It works on the flip side as well. If you want to be able to only play outside with your kids or stay in good enough shape to keep up with a casual beach volleyball game in the summer, practicing yoga will help you do that with ease.
Too busy? Just take a shorter class!
Obviously, finding time was less of a challenge during the pandemic. Once classes ended, and with my summer plans canceled because of the virus, I finally had time to try it out. What I have found is that even a short session of yoga can be beneficial. I have been using the Peloton app and there you can filter for the length of the session. You can do a less-intense video for a longer time or high-intensity power yoga for less time — whatever you prefer. I was lucky to have siblings at home to motivate me and join me in my practice, but if you don’t have anyone near you schedule a time with friends to do a joint session.
Affordable options exist.
I also understand that Peloton is not exactly affordable. Keep in mind there are many free yoga sessions on YouTube. Another popular option is Yoga to the People, a website that provides online yoga classes for free. Bryant Park is also continuing its free yoga summer classes online. We are thankfully living in a time where yoga is accessible to all.
My last bit of yoga advice is that you should not take yourself too seriously. I understand that for yoga to be most effective you need to concentrate on your breathing and the poses — but the concentration does not mean you can’t laugh or smile or have fun. I recommend agreeing on doing a session that is less serious in order to get your laughs out. Yoga is fun, so do what you can to allow it to be that way.
It is strange to think that with all the medical and athletic developments of today a 5,000-year-old exercise continues to grow in popularity. If anything, its longevity should convince you how important and effective it is. So if you are not yet aboard the ancient and fast-moving yoga train, hop on board and join me. And if you know the ropes, I’d love to learn from your experiences.
Chana Weinberg is a summer intern at The Garnette Report specializing in all things sports and fitness. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Yeshiva University and would love to hear from you. Feel free to reach out via twitter at @ChanaWeinberg7!