- yoga (noun): a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation
Now that summer is underway, I’ve had a lot more free time for myself recently and I’ve decided to devote all that free time to improving my well-being and really finding myself. It’s all about self-discovery and both spiritual and physical health. Throughout the year, we are so focused on work, and on checking all our “to-dos” off on the list. We spend hours seated at the desk, hunched over a computer, as we move from task to task, trying to force ourselves to work as quickly as we can. We rush off to meetings, or to run daily errands, rarely having a chance to really stop and take a breather. Discovering yoga was like discovering myself again, and it was truly amazing.
I was first introduced to the world of yoga the summer of last year. I had purchased an introductory unlimited month pass for my local yoga studio because I had heard great things about the wonders of yoga. Being that it was my first time, I was a little hesitant into “diving into the deep end” so fast. The very first class I attended was hot yoga. With hot yoga, the room is heated to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and you go through a series of postures that are all linked by breath. I loved the first class, but I only went back a couple more times for that month due to the lack of free time, yet again. After practising hot yoga, you truly feel like you are reborn; you are a new, and better version of the person you entered the studio as. After my unlimited month was up, I purchased a 10 class pass to use throughout the year and that tided me over until this summer.
At the very start of July, the local yoga studio was having a promotional deal for a 2 month Unlimited Summer Pass. Seeing that this was the perfect opportunity to try and delve back into the world of yoga, I purchased the pass and made it my mission to go at least 3 times a week. The class I attend is “Moksha Yoga.” It’s typically a 60 or 75-minute hot yoga class, filled with many different types of challenging, but doable poses ranging from all levels of difficulties. Moksha classes are intended to open, strengthen and detoxify the entire body. These are great for anybody who is new to yoga, as it familiarizes you with many of the common yoga poses, their names, and their flow sequences. I committed to it about 3 or 4 times a week, and every time I left the studio, there was a smile on my face and a spring in my step. You really work up a sweat in the studio (Have towels ready), but that’s the best part of it. When you walk out of the humid, dark room and into the fresh air of outside, you feel lighter; you feel mentally at rest. You feel light.
Some poses for moksha yoga are quite difficult if you are a first-timer, but they will get easier to do with practice. It really works your muscles and your joints, so what is great about is that while you are exercising physically, you are also exercising mentally. The biggest challenge is if you can banish all of your thoughts away while you are in the room. Can you have an open, calm mind while you are simply lying on your back and breathing? Can you think about breathing, and only breathing, when you are in your poses? This can be the most challenging part, but certainly the most rewarding. If you are interested in attending a yoga class in the near future, just make sure you bring a mat, plenty of water, a towel that you can lay on your mat to prevent slipping, and a hand towel to wipe your sweat.
Recently, because of the flexibility of my unlimited summer pass, I also tried a new type of Yoga Class: Yin Yoga. It’s pretty different from Moksha yoga, as it is less active. It is a slow-moving, deep class where you can truly relax and recharge. It focuses on long, deep holds so you can relax and restore joints and muscles. Unlike moksha yoga, where you are moving for the majority of the class, Yin yoga features poses that can be held for up to 5 minutes. It is extremely soothing, and really tests how well you can stay focused on the class and keep out other invading thoughts. Some poses do really require flexibility, but just like anything else, it will all come with practice. If you’re attending yin yoga, make sure you bring a mat, a yoga block, a bolster, and a blanket. Usually, these are done in an unheated room as the purpose is not to sweat, but to calm and clear the mind. My next goal is to even try a Meditation class they offer at the studio.
The best part about yoga is the mental health that comes with it; for just 60 to 75 minutes, you are leaving behind the stress of the day before, the present day, and the day after. You are only focusing on this very moment and the sound and feeling of your breath. You are leaving behind all the distractions and worries of the world and you are just focusing on your inner self. Yoga is such a rewarding experience, and no matter how busy I am, I try to squeeze in a couple classes more month. If you have never tried it before, I highly recommend it. It is so incredibly peaceful. Sometimes, it can be strenuous, but in those moments, when your legs are wobbling and your arms are in pain, you realize how strong you can be. You realize how strong you actually are. The practice is so beautiful, and it has helped me to grow so much as a person. I hope it can do the same for each and every one of you.