I just recently celebrated the first anniversary of my journey through yoga. Before that, I had practiced for about three months, but I had never managed to stick to the schedule and keep on practicing on a regular basis. Now, after practicing twice a week for already a year and having my own mat, I think I can say I am a real yogi :-)
A lot of people who talk to me are curious about yoga because I am "young and happy." In Brazil, there's a common perception that yoga is only for therapeutical purposes, such as for the elderly, or people with depression. But one of the main reasons I turned to yoga at first was because I wanted to get away from sedentarism.
Yoga was the only exercise (ever!) that I actually related to and didn't think of as a sacrifice I had to do for my health. It was much more of a pleasant activity, a super-quality-time dedicated to myself only. The sense of well-being after each class is so powerful and transforming!
For those who are curious about the effects of a “minor” - but regular - practice of yoga for a year, here's my honest testimonial of what has actually changed in me:
1. Migraines Ceased
Some people have gastritis, dehydrosis, aftas or higher blood pressure...my psychosomatic disease is migraine. I started having migraine crisis when I was 12-years-old. After that, I had one crisis every three months. Three years ago, I started taking medication that made me gain weight and feel sleepy the whole day.
It helped a little, but it didn't solve the problem completely. Well, to sum up: it's been more than a year since my last major migraine crisis.
2. Muscle tonus
Before yoga, I was a sedentary person and my belly, legs and arms were like soft jelly. Of course I still have a lot to improve in terms of muscle definition, but now they have tonus and are stronger. I have the same body measures as before, but gained a little more weight - after all, muscles are heavier than fat.
3. Much better mood
When I asked my husband what changes he had noticed throughout the year, the first and more emphatic one was: better mood! Yoga practice seems to balance the energy and put things in the right place. I used to make a big deal out of little problems that now, I simply don't care about that much anymore. I also feel like going out with friends more than before.
4. Less insomnia
My sleep was always a problem and I still have some issues to work on (I still wake up several times during the night), but it's much easier now to rest my head on the pillow and quickly fall asleep. I used to take my problems to bed with me and to end up awake for hours before finally sleeping.
It reflects on the next day - I don't feel sleepy and tired all the time as before, and this has a huge effect on my daily productivity!
Physically speaking, that is the best improvement I've had in this first year of yoga. It's impressive how we can get better naturally, with comfort, and without suffering of any kind. I don't remember having back pain since I started my regular practice.
It took me about three months to know how to be in charge of my breath. After I managed to control it during practice (and stopped losing or holding it), the perception of my body limits and possibilities was clear and I started to evaluate faster.
7. Ability to truly meditate
Meditation is also the result of a lot of practice. Before yoga, I simply never EVER meditated my whole life. When it happened the first time, and I discovered I could find a peaceful place within me, it was life-changing!
8. More present-focused
I am blessed for having a truly great instructor who always reminds me that the past doesn't matter because it won't change, and that the future is made of what we are in the present. I started to remember those words more often even off the mat and it made me less anxious. When we stop focusing on the present, we tend to be so distracted thinking about what we can't change that we let precious little moments of joy pass right in front of us. Now I can say I have more moments of joy than before.
When I look back and see all these changes, I'm even more certain that yoga is pure science -- but with effects that are simply nothing short of magical.
by Julia Dantas - Julia is a Brazilian journalist who works with digital media. She is in the team of those who prefer to see the glass half full. You can find about more about Julia and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.
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