I recently spent two months taking a yoga class at my school. Even though I only participated for a short amount of time, I learned much more than I expected from the experience. The fact the my instructor was so passionate about the sport definitely helped me get the most out of my experience, but I’m sure I would have still learned a lot practicing on my own. I’m sharing some of the things I learned in hopes that others will try yoga for themselves; it is a hobby that can truly change your perspective on life, as it did for me.
Patience is really what it takes to improve
Even before I started yoga I knew that the patience it involved was going to be difficult for me. I’m a very obsessive person and when I find something I like, it’s all I can think about. If it’s a sport or hobby, I feel as if I need to perfect it right away. Of course, yoga was something I found very enjoyable. It was hard for me to realize that I wasn’t going to be able to do every posture right away. However, what helped me through my impatience was the improvement I saw everyday. Yoga is really special, because it shows you that “practice makes perfect.” Everyday you can stretch further and hold postures for longer. By the time a week has past, you are often able to do exercises you weren’t strong enough to do on day one.
Breathing is high key so important
Breathing is so second nature to us that it often can seem trivial. In my yoga class, we often practiced deep breathing exercises. We would breathe in for eight seconds, hold for eight, breathe out for eight, and repeat. The exercise seems quite simple, but I actually found it difficult. At first I wouldn’t try because of how pointless it seemed. However, one day I decided to really put in the effort and was so surprised at how at peace I felt after. My yoga teacher would tell us that if we were ever in a fight with someone and were really upset, we should stop mid fight and just start deep breathing. She explained that although it may make us look crazy, it often spurs others to join in and diffuses that situation. After completing that exercises I realized how right she was.
Positive thinking is the key
This is the most important lesson I learned. For the past year, I’ve be trying really hard to think positively. There is no way to be happy when you are a negative person, and or surround yourself with negative people. Yoga helped me to further understand this concept. When you spend an hour in a quiet room every day, it’s easy to let negative thoughts come in and out of your mind. It was really hard for me to not focus on my workload or other issues I have in my life. However, when I was able to leave all of the negative thoughts behind and really focus on the exercises and chanting playing in the background, my experience was so much better. I would walk out of class calm and happy, instead of worrying about my paper that was due that evening.
It’s hard to truly clear your mind, but the effort pays off
At the end of every yoga session, we would Shavasana. This practice involves lying down on the ground like a corpse and meditating for 10 minutes. Nearly every day my yoga teacher would remind the class that 10 minutes of Shavasana following yoga was equivalent to 3 hours of good sleep. Going to a school that thinks it’s beneficial to give students so much homework that they end up getting 5 hours of sleep every night, I obviously wanted to take advantage of these promising 10 minutes. However, that means I would actually have to try to mediate, which is harder than it sounds. In order to correctly mediate, our teacher would instruct us chant along to the music in our heads, or out loud, and lose ourselves in it. Repeating this mediation taught me how much effort it takes to really lose yourself and stop thinking. I’m glad I got this practice because meditation is something I plan to continue for the rest of my life. It was one of the major reasons I was able to leave class feeling so rested and ready to take on the rest of my day.