Many of you know I have been practicing yoga for almost 2 years. It’s something that has taken hold of my heart and changed my life. This past weekend I took the first step in becoming a yoga teacher. I took part in a Rocket Yoga intensive which is the prerequisite to the teacher training in March. We learned all about the philosophy, history, and physical practice of The Rocket, a modified version of Ashtanga yoga. This style of yoga is my passion and I can’t wait to share it.
This is a question I get a lot from people. I have found there are misconceptions about yoga from the media which shows pictures of thin women wearing stylish yoga pants doing extremely impressive poses. The negative outcome to this narrative is people judge yoga because they do not understand it. The positive outcome is that many people decide to hop on the bandwagon for a cool Instagram photo. Little do they know that once they try it, they no longer need convincing.
I used to have a hard time explaining why I practice yoga because the feelings and internal changes I was experiencing seemed inexplicable. Now my answer is pretty simple: Yoga makes me a happier person and makes me want to live a more positive lifestyle. And, science proves it!
Need some proof, eh? The Science of Yoga
Psychologists from The Yoga Institute found that just 6 weeks of yoga for 12 minutes a day reduced depression in people by 33% and significantly reduced anxiety.
I am a naturally anxious person who just worries about everything. After just a few weeks of practicing yoga, I noticed a change in my thought process outside the studio. I could control ruminating thoughts better. I could control my reactions to stressful moments better. I cared about myself more and stopped being so hard on myself. I cared about other people more. I smiled more. I loved my family and friends more. I started eating healthier. I stopped feeling ANY Crohn’s Disease symptoms like colon pain and fatigue. I had more energy.
I now realize there was a real scientific thing happening inside my body. Yoga helps control our internal stress and emotional responses through a cultivation of mind-body awareness. Through linking breath with movement, even for just 12 minutes a day, we can change our physical and mental state over time. We’re able to observe our flow of thought which leads to mindfulness. This powerful occurrence can change our behavior and create a resilience to stress response. We can experience a deeper spiritual state which can bring us into a positive lifestyle with more meaning and purpose.
The physical benefits are just as plentiful. Yoga can improve joint pain, heal injury, and strengthen our muscles. You don’t even have to ever do any of the crazy, acrobatic poses you see on Instagram to get these benefits. Yoga can be simple movements that get the body moving and working.
Yoga and Crohn’s Disease
This topic requires its own blog, but I will give you a short version. Yoga is a huge part of the treatment of my disease. Before yoga, I was flaring up every few months. With yoga, I am symptom free. Yoga gave me the courage to get on a new medicine, eat healthier, and take care of myself. Also, I was never able to control my nervous system before yoga. Whenever I got nervous, stressed, scared, sad, happy, or excited I would feel the emotion as pain in my colon. Now that I have mind-body awareness, I can control my thought and reaction processes better. Yoga also helps increases my immune system while I am taking an immunosuppressant drug.
As you can see, yoga has changed my life. I am not perfect and I still have lots of room to grow and change. Just like any human, I still get stressed. I still worry. I still sometimes don’t eat healthy. However, one thing is for sure…I could never go back to a pre-yoga life.
Want to give yoga a try? Head to a yoga studio near you! Or, simply practice mindfulness at home. There are lots of great YouTube videos to help guide you. Trust me, you WILL feel a positive change.