Okay, everybody, I have finally done it: I morphed into the stereotype of the treehugging hippie! Although I don’t consider myself hippie, and I only really hug trees on special occasions, I can now shamelessly confirm: I’ve started doing Yoga!
Oh yes, that stuff where you get into the most body-tangling poses that make you look like a snake-person and hopefully brings you enlightenment. After all the Zero Waste-focused posts, I found this a quite nice new approach to un-fucking up this world.
Why did I start doing Yoga? It’s a long story, but let me make it as brief as I can. To be brief, I wanted to get into mediation, but I’m a notoriously un-balanced and restless person, and after a few failed attempts, I found Yoga is like meditation, but you’re too busy trying to hold the pose to get restless!
So, why did I want to get into meditation, then!?
Based on my personal experience, I found people around us and in our wider society have lost more and more a sense of purpose and direction. We’ve become so fast-paced, that a lot of times, we only react to all the things that impact on us. When really, we should live our live consciously and proactively, creating opportunities instead of rushing from one possibility to the other and hoping the opportunity might arise somewhere.
We now think the quicker we get something done, the more we can do, and the more we get done, the more time we have in the end for ourselves. That’s simply untrue. When we get things done, we don’t stop to reflect. We immediately find something else that ‘needs do be done’. Our lives seem to just rush from one to-do list to the next, from one assignment to the next, from one appointment to the next. If we find some spare time, we desperately feel the need to stuff it with something new. Voilà, another commitment is born that ‘needs to be done’.
We need to stop. Now. And breathe.
I could ramble now about the power of just breathing. Yes, I’m not joking, breathing exercise can heal illness! (It’s scientifically proven!) I encourage you to google about the healing powers of breath (and then please don’t forget to return and read the rest of this post!). Or follow one of my resources at the bottom of this article, for the lazy readers 😉
I’m a person who usually takes a long time to form a habit, so I’m not sure how long I will keep up my practice. I’ve committed to a 30-day challenge from a quite popular YouTube channel called Yoga with Adriene. She’s probably not everybody’s cup of tea, but I found her instructions easy to follow which is great for me as absolute beginner.
I actually discovered my unknown fondness of YouTube tutorials, as I can choose to practice at a time that suits me, and pause or rewind any time I fancy. And it’s absolutely free, of course. The downside is that you don’t have a chance to socialise (unless you count conversations with my boyfriend as socialising), and it’s a lot easier to give up as there is no financial commitment. Nonetheless, I’ve done the challenge for 10 days now and I can’t see myself stopping just yet (I’m only at the Day 8 video, though. Which means I skipped twice. You got me 😉 ).
Apart from my goal to find an exercise which doesn’t make me feel like a full-douche (I’ve never been keen to do press-ups and stuff) and potentially satisfy my desire to practice conscious breathing without having to sit still 10 full minutes (Tick. And tick.), what surprised me the most is that it’s actually very hard work! As in, it’s actual, genuine exercise and not just holding a pose. It’s a very holistic way to strengthen all your muscles at the same time, as well as relaxing your body and calming your mind through controlled breathing. It does so many things at the same time, I’m surprised I can actually do it (I’m not great at multitasking).
There is, of course, harder and easier variations of poses, which makes it very suitable for all types of fitness. The YouTube-do-it-at-home-bonus is that nobody will see if you just drop yourself to the ground and decide to take a break for a minute.
I will stop rambling now and would like to encourage you to remember this post next time you want to rush around like a headless chicken and consider going online and doing just 10 minutes of any mindful exercise. Meditation, guided meditation, qi gong or maybe yoga. It might make you feel more relaxed, it might mean nothing to you, or you’re just unsure what the actual point is, but rest assured that you did your body and mind a great favour and gave yourself a chance to stop and breathe.
I will stop now as I actually have to go and do my yoga for today 😉 Namaste!
PS: I’ve done my homework (for a change) and would like to encourage you to further read about the healing effects of breathing and Yogic breathing specifically. Note that this was only a brief online research by me, and I’d love to hear from you if you have any further resources. Here’s two studies and two articles for you:
- This study finds evidence that breathing exercise can help with depression, anxiety, hypertension, post-traumatic stress disorder, lower cholesterol, and might even contribute to cure cancer.
- I cannot find the whole article online, but in the abstract it reads: “… From the reviewed evidence, it is recommended that Pranayama [i.e. Yoga breathing] is effective in treatment of most disease conditions and could thus be a viable and affordable treatment option for both patients with diseases and for normal individuals towards health promotion and fitness. However, future large scale population-based pragmatic clinical trials are needed to provide strong recommendations on its effectiveness.”
Article 1: Meditating Away Pain
- Talking about pain relief through meditation and citing various studies
Article 2: Yogic Breathing: The Physiology of Pranayama
- A Huffington Post analysis on the effects of Yoga, also citing a few studies.