1. One of the first things that fascinated me about the practice of yoga was the realization that you can get a full body workout within a roughly 2 foot by 6 foot rectangular mat! You don’t need a large space in which to move around, nor do you need any equipment to work out every part of your body.
2. Using your entire body weight is much more effective in creating strength than isolating particular muscle groups, as is done with weights. The muscles of the body are interconnected and used together.
3. Your mat is your own private oasis. The edges of your mat mark an area that belongs entirely to you.
4. I love that in the style of yoga that I practice, each class is different and unique. Every class holds something new and inspirational.
5. You are given an opportunity to connect with your true self each time that you step onto your mat- not the self that you think you are, or the one that you have been told that you are, but your true, whole self, that is always waiting for you, filled with peace and patience.
6. Yoga is about so much more than exercising. The movements can be considered a full-body prayer.
7. You don’t need willpower to get through a yoga class. You may experience moments of struggle or discomfort while building strength, but those moments pass by so quickly, and then you find yourself in a resting pose, slowling down, and giving your body a chance to re-gain your energy. (I never see myself willfully pushing myself through a workout on a machine, where my ipod is needed to get me through that hour, ever again!)
8. Yoga teaches you to care for yourself. Before you can truly care for others, you need to take care of yourself first. Self-compassion naturally leads to compassion for others. You can’t spread what are you are not filled up with, yourself.
9. I no longer fight with my weight. Yoga allows a natural balance within my body, so that I can still still eat the sweets that I desire on a daily basis, while maintaining a steady weight. After finishing the Appalachian Trail and quickly gaining many extra pounds, I struggled so much to try to burn off the calories that I was consuming, always unhappy with the numbers that showed on the scale, always fighting. Now, I have no need to weigh myself. There is no struggle.
10. Yoga provides you with an opportunity to examine the self, to explore one’s strengths , weaknesses, and challenges. It gives one an opportunity to observe the mind when it is presented with a situation of discomfort, and gives options for dealing with situations that are uncomfortable, such as observing this state of mind, sitting with it, and returning to the focus of the breath.
11. In every class, you both strengthen and open different parts of the body, leaving you stronger and more flexible.
12. You are reminded of pieces of wisdom that help you make choices that lead to a happier, kinder, and healthier life.
13. You create space in your body and in your mind. New space always feels good. Space invites new possibilities. And creating space in a situation, gives you the opportunity to pause and respond in healthier and kinder ways to unexpected things that come toward you.
14. You learn to let go of the things you can not control.
15. Yoga classes are great places to be introduced to inspirational quotes and poems, and music.
16. There is room for plentiful intelligence and creativity in the sequencing of a yoga class.
17. I have found that a yoga class is one of the rare places in public where it is acceptable and even encouraged to cry and release emotions or things that you have been holding onto which have been holding you back.
18. You learn how to breathe effectively. Most of us breathe only from our upper lungs, inhaling and exhaling rapid, quick breaths, which keeps our sympathetic nervous system active and on alert. Breathing from the base of the spine, allows the body and mind to slow down, and increases the strength of the lungs.
19. You learn breathing techniques ,which help to warm the body when it is cold, cool the body when it is too warm, and which flood the body with energy.
20. You learn to increase your own balance and focus.
21. You learn to accept yourself completely.
22. You learn to stay in the present moment; to let go of all that came before and all that is to come.
23. You learn to connect with what can’t be seen.
24. Going upside down is fun.
25. Arm balances are fun! (I light up inside every time a teacher offers us the opportunity to try an arm balance!)
26. Twisting poses detoxify the body by squeezing out old blood and lymph and allowing fresh oxygen and nutrients to rush in.
27. You learn to set intentions for your practice, which you carry out into your life, reminding yourself of the things that are truly important to you.
28. You learn that you create your life with your thoughts, and start learning to replace negative self -talk with more positive talk.
29. A room full of people chanting and singing sounds beautiful.
30. You learn the parts of your body where you store tension, and by gradually working on relaxing these areas in class, you learn to start relaxing them outside of class as well.
31. Yoga improves your posture and the way you feel about yourself.
32. The practice gives you an arena to conquer your fears. (For me, it is inversions. I am scared about my body’s ability to hold the weight of my hips over my shoulders). Conquering your fears allows you to feel so much stronger and more relaxed with what life presents you.
33. Yoga gives you the opportunity to start undoing habits and patterns that do not serve you.
34. It teaches you that surrendering and softening are just as important (if not more so) than doing and achieving.
35. Teaching yoga allows me the opportunity to connect with others.
36. It turns out that practicing yoga is great preparation for backpacking! Before hiking the Colorado Trail, I did no training other than my regular yoga classes, and was able to start off hiking 17 miles a day with a heavy backpack at high altitude!
37. No one yells at you in yoga class. The practice is yours, and your body always knows much more about what it best for you than any teacher can tell you. Teachers offer you options, but it is always up to you to do what feels right.
38. Good assists feel amazing! We are touched so little nowadays, and touch is so important and healing. Yoga is one place where you receive loving touch that sometimes just feels good, and other times, allows you to move deeper into postures and places that you didn’t even think you could go!
39. Many people that do yoga like to give hugs! It is not unusual for me to receive four hugs when I go to a yoga class. (Whereas a hug at the place that I worked for 16 years seemed like the most foreign thing to my coworkers…)
40. You learn to open your heart in yoga and live your life from a place of openness and truth, as opposed to fear.
41. You meet other people who have opened their hearts and built a loving community.
42. You learn self-massage techniques.
43. Every practice concludes with lying down for several minutes in complete rest for the entire body and mind, giving the body a chance to integrate what was just done for it, as well as recharge for the rest of the day.
44. No one has ever regretted going to yoga class and going to two yoga classes per day allows you to feel even better than going to one!
45. You give your spine a chance to lengthen and bend in all possible directions, which is a very freeing feeling.
46. Every pose can be returned to over and over again as if it was the first time you did it, incorporating new knowledge and realizations!
47. There is no ceiling within this practice. This is one of my favorite things about yoga! You can always improve and reach new places!
48. The feeling of being able to do a new pose that you could not do before is indescribable! Something that was not accessible to you before is now within your realm.
49. The practice of yoga is thousands of years old. Its ability to transform lives has been proven again and again.
50. It feels like you are getting a giant hug from the universe! It makes you feel so happy and so good! One of my teachers often says, “Come and get your love!”.
51. The more I practice, the more reasons I discover why I love yoga so much! (It won’t be hard for me to turn this piece into “101 Reasons Why I Love Yoga!”…)