By Paige Kiser, Regular ContributorJune 28, 2015
About six months ago, I decided that after a long time of being curious about it, I would try my hand at yoga. I will admit, I had a pretty misconstrued view of it before. I thought that it was mostly about flexibility, and people pushing themselves to see what kind of difficult positions they could move their bodies into. Everyone that I had known who took yoga classes or attempted it on their own with videos or books talked about it frequently and passionately; it seemed to consume a great deal of their life. I would see pictures posted of them doing handstands or bending their legs over their shoulders like they were in a sideshow act, and with every post I thought, “No, this is definitely not for me. I could never do those things.”
But then I would see different articles and personal posts online from people who excitedly explained all the different ways that yoga (as well as meditation) helped them when they were feeling stressed, anxious, or were just having a bad day.
When you think of any kind of exercising, whether it’s yoga, running, lifting weights, or anything else, you don’t tend to think of the great amount of focus that it requires first. But when you think about it, that’s kind of the core of those activities. You have to make yourself forget everything else that is keeping your mind busy and focus on the task at hand, and how to give everything you’ve got into that task, which is why it’s an ideal distraction from negative feelings.
I quickly learned that while flexibility is a fun and challenging aspect of yoga, it isn’t all there is to it, and you don’t even have to go into the really flexible poses in order to participate in the activity.
You just have to be present, be willing to pay attention to the needs and limits of your body, and adjust what you’re doing to fit your individual goals and abilities.
At its core, yoga involves learning how to focus on your breathing and becoming aware of your body.
Lately I have been paying special attention to the mindfulness aspect of yoga, and how that can be applied to the other events of everyday life. If you’re a busy person, whether it’s with things like school, work, or your social life, you probably aren’t taking enough time to be aware of your body. As I’m getting older and becoming more busy and stressed with schoolwork, I’m realizing just how important and necessary it is to take the time (even if you can literally only spare five minutes) to be mindful of your body, whether it’s internal or external.
When we talk about self-care, we are quick to talk about the benefits of working out and eating healthy, which are definitely worthwhile and great if accessible. But there are different, sometimes less involved actions that can be considered.
Self-care and mindfulness about your body and yourself should be individual.
Your version of taking care of yourself might be taking a night off to spend with friends who make you laugh or taking a long, hot bath and relaxing. Maybe it’s a form of expression, like dyeing your hair a fun color or finally getting that tattoo that you’ve wanted forever.
Whether your mindfulness involves something familiar and comfortable or trying something new and taking a risk, make sure that it is for your benefit. If it’s going to make you happy or feel better, it’s worth it.
How do you take care of your body? Have you ever tried yoga? What did you think? Tell us below!
Paige is a film production student who is passionate about social justice and encouraging people to love themselves. She enjoys black coffee, movie marathons, Halloween, vintage fashion, comic books, and telling everyone she knows why RuPaul’s Drag Race is the best thing ever. When she isn’t at a movie theater or asking a tall stranger to help her reach for books on top shelves, you can find her on twitter @paigevsreality.
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