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5 things I have learned from yoga

There are times when you may find yourself in a pattern of doing everything for everyone else, not doing anything for yourself and suppressing any desires you have. I found myself in this situation earlier this year and realized I was feeling very down and not like myself as a result. One thing I strongly desired was to take regular yoga classes. I have always enjoyed yoga, but only did it here and there with a DVD or took a very occasional class. I went to visit my sister in Nantucket, MA this past summer and was able to attend the Nantucket Yoga Festival for a few days. The teachers were awesome, I pushed my body past its limit, felt restoration in my soul and let go of a lot of negative emotions.

After a few months, with the urging of my husband and a receiving challenge I was participating in, I signed up for a month of power vinyasa yoga at Brown Dog Yoga. It is only 5 minutes from my house - can't get much better than that! This has been one of the best decisions I have made for my body and my mind. There are 5 big things I have learned from practicing yoga regularly for the past 3 months.

1. The world will not end if you take time for yourself.

I used to feel so guilty doing anything for myself because I thought that I needed to be with my kids anytime I was not at work. This "mom guilt" can affect us to the point of not moving our bodies physically at all, not taking care of ourselves mentally and spiritually and losing connection with our friends. Taking some time for yourself to do things you are passionate about or enjoy will make you a happier person, a better significant other, parent and friend. I promise the dishes can wait, the laundry can be put away later and the bathrooms can be cleaned tomorrow. Life will go on.

2. What seems impossible at first can easily be attained when you work for it consistently and adjust your approach.

When I first saw people doing the side crow pose, for example, I thought "Wow, there is no way I can do that!". I attempted it unsuccessfully which made me believe even more that I could not do it. After trying for awhile, I realized that I was not approaching it the right way and tried a different approach. I can now do the side crow pose on both sides with ease and grace. It is not so difficult after all! Your mindset and approach can be changed numerous times in order to achieve any goal. Now when I see a new pose or arm balance I do not look at it as being impossible and I continue adjusting my approach to reach my goal.

3. There is no point in stressing over situations we cannot control.

Recently I was in the middle of a class in a downward dog when I realized my ring that my husband bought me for our 5 year anniversary was not on my finger. I immediately felt stress and anxiety going through my body, frantically wondering where it was. I breathed through it and realized that there was nothing I could do in that moment in the middle of the class and stressing will not help me find my ring. We can apply this to all areas of our lives. When someone isn't driving the way we want them to or when someone is not listening us, one of the best things we can do is breathe through it, release that stress and anxiety and move on. We are all a work in progress and I believe that if we strive to work on ourselves, our skills and our emotions daily we will achieve more and more control over ourselves and our success. We cannot control others and situations, but we can control our reactions.

4. You will feel better if you get up and just do it.

Some mornings I go to yoga at 5:30 am. I have never been a morning person, but I find that when I go to yoga I feel so much better after I am finished with a class. My mind may be saying "You should stay in bed and sleep" or "You should lounge around on the couch because it is cold", but there is a stronger part of my brain now that says get up and go. Pushing my body through challenging poses while strengthening my mind is always worth it during and after class. This applies to tasks that we procrastinate on in our businesses and everyday tasks also. The more we put things off the more we feel stress that they are not done yet. Tackle those projects, that item on your to do list, take a class...take action! Your mind and body will thank you when you are finished.

5. You do not need to workout for hours and hours everyday to see results.

Many people believe that you need to spend a lot of time working out every single day to change your body or gain strength. I believe that the biggest changes come when you work on your emotions and conditioning your mind along with the physical aspect of working out. If you don't change your mind and your emotions, you will be holding yourself back from losing weight and changing your body. You have to love yourself first, start focusing on the good and believe that can change your life. I found the most success in losing weight when I began working on my emotions and meditating more frequently, which did not require anything physical at the time. Many people look in the mirror and think "Why can't I lose weight?" or "Why can't I get this last 10 lbs off?". There is a good chance you will never lose that weight until you start loving yourself and changing your thoughts to loving and grateful thoughts towards your body. When you ask "Why can't I lose weight?" your body will find reasons why you can't and that keeps you on that same path. Try something new like "I am so grateful for my body. How can I find ways to improve myself and strengthen my body today?".

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic and your personal experiences also!

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