Om Shanti All the Way to Wellness
A year ago, you would never hear me utter an Om Shanti. I was more of a Namaste-in-bed kind of person. I had given birth to my first child 9 months prior and was struggling to lose the last 25 of the 60 pounds (yes, you read that right) of weight I gained while pregnant. On top of being in a rut physically; mentally, I was screaming inside. I had all of this unexpected anxiety creeping out that was slowly driving me crazy. I had no drive and ambition and was just plain miserable to be around, even for me. I began to fear the future for my daughter. What kind of role model was I going to be for her with my very vocal thoughts of my body image?
I had been a pretty fit person over the last 10 years and for some reason, none of the exercises I loved in the past were appealing to me. I felt so disheartened when I just couldn’t get back into it. I didn’t know at the time, it was probably less of my physical state and more of my mental state. I decided that I would slowly start to work my way back up and honestly, I thought doing yoga would require the least amount of work on my part. That’s what drew me towards trying out yoga as a regular practice, less movement. Boy, I was wrong.
I challenged myself to do yoga once a day for 90 days – even if it was only for a half hour a day. What I gained over that 90 days not only was transformative in my body, it transformed my mind. Almost immediately, I began to feel more at peace with myself, which, in turn, motivated me to work harder. I started to LOOK FORWARD to my daily yoga workouts. As it turns out, it’s not all savasana (lying on your back for those not familiar). These workouts were raising my heart rate, burning calories with every asana (pose) and I was breaking a sweat daily. I was building great strength and flexibility and building confidence. Fast forward to a year later, I’m not only 4 pounds lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight; I am a more confident, motivated, peaceful and clear-minded person. I’ve rediscovered my love for fitness and living a healthy lifestyle and have come to enjoy and crave those exercises I once loved.
So, in case I haven’t made it clear with my personal story about the positive effects yoga has on your body and mind, let’s list some below*:
- Improves Posture – With properly aligned posture, we are engaging our core muscles. In addition to strengthening our core muscles, proper posture is crucial to the health of our back.
- Strengthens Muscles – Holding asanas improves and strengthens muscle tone.
- Improves Flexibility – Regular yoga practice helps to improve your flexibility. Flexibility is important because it helps to prevent injuries in other forms of exercise. Touch your toes, folks!
- Increased Heart Rate – With proper breathing (pranayama), our heart rate is increased as we move from pose to pose.
- Happy Happy – Yoga can help to make you a happier person (It did for me!). Some studies have shown that daily practice can increase the serotonin levels in our brains.
- Supports a Healthy Lifestyle – The practice of yoga, because of its health and wellness benefits, supports a healthy lifestyle.
For me, yoga was the kick-in-the-pants I needed to get back into a healthy lifestyle. I am forever grateful for the change it made in my life and I continue to make yoga a part of my daily fitness routine. What will challenge you to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Will you make yoga a part of your day?
Om Shanti (Peace), All!
*Source: Yoga Journal (for complete list of yoga benefits, check out Yoga Journal’s Article 38 Health Benefits of Yoga)