Is anyone born liking Brussels sprouts? Is there anyone who sits down for the first time at a steaming hot plate of those tiny stinky cabbages and just says “Now this looks delicious!” I know, in theory, you people are out there ready to offer me a gourmet recipe for the little alien brains, but I admit I lack confidence in your olfactory system. I’m not sure I’m one to judge, however. Spinach is among the most desirable dishes on the planet to me. It doesn’t need any special preparation either. In fact, raw may be the best way to serve it. And where are my asparagus lovers at? Just roast some of those on a pan in the oven and sprinkle a tad bit of parmesan across the dish. Heavenly. Am I right?
And listen, regardless of where you stand on Brussels sprouts, spinach and asparagus I’m sure we can unite on one thing: Who the heck are these kale eaters? Come on, you people don’t really like that stuff, do you? Let’s be honest, you are just slipping that into your smoothie because you are hoping one of its secret superpower ingredients will help you deal with Karen at the office.
(No, not that Karen. We love her!)
The point is that when it comes to lifestyles there are many paths and choices you can make on your journey to a healthier you. It is important to find a sustainable groove because, ultimately, you are going to have to stick with it on the days you really don’t want to and the more challenging it is to your mental state the harder it will be when the cliched going gets tough. Because, let me assure you, it will get tough. However, that doesn’t mean you should only stick with the things that come easy and natural to you. Much like a marriage, this fitness thing is going to be a long journey and you have to find a way to keep things interesting or else you are going to find yourself wanting to run off to a beach in Barbados with a spicy fresh little dish of chips and queso.
But Yoga? Really?
I hear some of you saying “Nah, Ima stay in bed. Thanks.”
I get it. Sometimes I think you might as well suggest I eat a full plate of Brussels Sprouts than do one more Vinyasa. How on earth is putting my face to the ground and posterior in the air going to get me further along my fitness journey? I do burpees, pushups and enough squats to crack a walnut. Plus, my downward dog probably looks more like a confused giraffe than a shapely triangle. Then I’m supposed to put my foot up in the air? You clearly underestimate my ability to turn this whole thing into a cautionary barn tale of tragedy. Then I’m supposed to hold it for three episodes of the newest Netflix series in some effort to build my inner sense of calm. Do you have any idea how many things I could get done while you are trying to teach me about pranayama?
The benefits of Yoga are all out there and easy to find with just a few short clicks. We all get it. It is totally good for you. But what if you are already living a fairly healthy lifestyle and active in other ways? What if it just isn’t your jam?
Well, here’s the thing: The people who pull away from yoga the most may be the very people who need it the most.
Hear me out.
Lot’s of people out there will tell you how great yoga is for the mind as well as the body. Ask any yoga enthusiast and they will tell you just how amazing yoga makes them feel. There really are dozens of benefits to yoga. Many are obvious, such as balance, strength, lower blood pressure, better mental health and so on but there are others you wouldn’t necessarily think of. Did you know yoga can improve your sense of proprioception? Did you even know that proprioception was a word before you just saw it?
Proprioception is your awareness of where your body is in a space and how it moves. While the obvious result of a healthy sense of proprioception is found in things such as balance and dexterity it also benefits your sense of self awareness and confidence as you become more adept at handling your own body and lessen any sense of awkwardness in day to day movements.
Yoga can also aid in digestion. The very act of moving through the poses and breathing techniques helps stimulate the system, increase circulation and move toxins out of the body.
There really can be no argument that yoga isn’t good for the body but how can you make yourself do it if you find the practice boring or slow?
Allow me to suggest to you that the very fact that it feels boring or slow may be the very reason you need to engage in it the most.
We live in one of the busiest cultures in history. The demand for our time and attention is in abundance. It really wasn’t all that long ago that you could call a phone number and it just endlessly ring because there was no one home and there was no such thing as voicemail. Nowadays the entire world is literally at our fingertips and can reach us at any hour of the day. We are raising a generation that are often unable to make themselves unavailable. The vultures are serious about their business. We are pressed on all sides by life. When we aren’t pressed, we are often stressed about the fact that there is nothing to do. We feel like we aren’t doing enough or are missing out. The horizons of our life and our mind are filled with flashing signs and billboards screaming to be noticed. The media is a practically an entitled toddler begging for attention. That’s not to mention our real toddlers that both need and want your attention while you are expected to figure out the magic formula of healthy connection that will result in a successful and stable adult.
The pressure is on and its everywhere and it affects us in ways we can’t even begin to realize. It makes us crazy. It makes us busy.
It makes us unable to slow down.
We are so used to the frantic pace of life that we absolutely struggle to be still.
Enter Yoga. A practice literally built upon stillness and inner calm.
Many of us react to the challenge of the discipline like a 3-year-old at a college lecture. Between the scattered thoughts vying for attention and the discipline of having to hold a pose for any period it is a challenge not to lean your head back and howl out “BORING!”
However, by forcing yourself to engage in yoga and submitting to the discipline of seeking out this inner calm you begin to rebuild a part of yourself that the modern adult world has likely taken from you.
That ability to just be present in a moment.
The ability to find yourself at peace with things. Not as you hope they will be or with goals you want to accomplish. Peace in the present moment. Confidence that isn’t based in accomplishments and gifts but just in being yourself. Wholly alive. Wholly thriving.
Being able to love the skin and mind you are in exactly as it is without the loud voices telling you who you should be and how you should be succeeding.
The gifts that entering Yoga can offer to your world far exceed the frustration of getting out of your comfort zone. While any fitness endeavor can help build self-confidence and worth the nature of Yoga is designed to help you find peace within the present state of your body and the flow of your life. It is built to stop the noisy rush hour traffic of our brains and our worlds and help us regain a healthy balance and rhythm in a world screaming for us to drive with the pedal to the floor. Sure, it might be hard to settle into at first but just like all of the things that challenge us we get better with time and learning to be present and mindful in our own bodies is a treasure far greater than any plate of Brussels sprouts could ever offer.