In 2002, I was in the process of recovering from knee surgery for an overuse injury. My knee hurt no matter the position, and exercise outside of the pool was out of the question. As anyone who has experienced physical therapy after surgery can attest, movement can be pretty unpleasant for quite some time!
When I happened upon a yoga video I had fairly low expectations. At the time I knew very little about yoga except to picture slender people twisted into pretzels, with Enya playing in the background. The very first time I tried it out, I was surprised to find that it didn’t make my pain worse, where all other movement did! I began to do the 20 minute video daily, and started to notice that not only was my knee feeling better, the calm I felt at the end of each practice lasted through much of the day. I did a lot of healing with Rodney Yee’s AM Yoga that summer.
Over the years yoga has been a game changer for me in so many ways. Here are some of the biggest reasons I continue to practice yoga:
The buzz. I love talking to new yoga students after their first class. They usually look like they’ve just woken from a luxurious nap and often say things like “I feel amazing. I could do this every day!” The novelty doesn’t tend to wear off with more experience, either. That magic cocktail of feeling more present, refreshed, and calm can really transform your worldview.
Pain management. My introduction to yoga isn’t a unique story. I know so many people who found yoga while trying to heal from an injury or manage chronic pain. Yoga has helped me cope with migraines and GI discomfort, as well.
The fun factor. There are exponentially more yoga postures than Jelly Belly flavors. In my own practice I explore and experiment to keep it interesting. There are loads of teaching styles out there to sample, and a lot of us embrace laughter in our classes, and I know I’m not the only one out there who gives poses ridiculous nicknames.
The peace piece. Despite what it seems at times, yoga isn’t about getting strong or flexible, and certainly not about sculpting a “yoga butt.” Sure, those things may happen (except not the “yoga butt!” Come on, what does that even mean?), but at the end of the day yoga isn’t designed to change your body. It’s intended to transform your relationship with your already whole, wonderful being, as you show up in the world now. In fact, if you remove meditation, mindfulness, breath, or the ultimate search for your authentic Self, it’s no longer yoga at all! Instead, we can use our journey through the physical poses, integrated with mindfulness and intentional breath, to get to know who we truly are. It’s powerful powerful stuff.
Self kindness. One of the many things that yoga has taught me is the importance of listening to my body lovingly, rather than telling it what and how it should be, on or off my yoga mat. It’s been helpful beyond measure to connect with my body as a vehicle for deeper self love.
Those are some of my top reasons to practice yoga. What are yours?