After escaping my fat-kid childhood, I used to go to the gym and work out several times a week, sweating and grunting with everyone else that was trying to build muscles and reduce their body fat. But something was missing for me. One day, I decided to transition from a gritty workout to something more serene and gentle. Yoga is a mixture of meditation and sport, which I thought was an interesting change of pace and might get me to where I wanted to be: healthy, but calm and relaxed.
One of the reasons I wanted to do that was my restless mind. Like many other people, I used to lay awake at night, thinking about all kinds of things, never getting to sleep quickly. Even during the day or watching a movie, I often found myself thinking. The lack of concentration was slowly but surely messing up my days. When I started doing Yoga, I also focused on the meditative side of it and soon discovered that it helped me tremendously. To be honest, I had always thought that meditation was a bit weird and I could not imagine it helping with anything. After all, what’s the difference between meditating and sleeping, or resting on the couch? Well, the difference is that you pay attention to your body, to your breathing, and to your mind!
If you couple meditation with Yoga as an exercise, you get a curious effect: you burn calories, keep a lean figure, stay flexible, and yet have a well-balanced mind. It didn’t take long before my restless thoughts began to calm down and my issues with insomnia got resolved. I still like the gym for muscle building, but I have traded halve the time I used to spend there doing Yoga at home. Personally, I like it best that way, because I don’t want other people around me when I do my exercises and sequences. For this purpose, I use training videos like the one above by Adrienne or Yoga Burn to guide me and teach me new things. Here is a Yoga burn review if you don’t know this rather popular DVD.
I’ve been asking around among my friends and acquaintances at the gym if they have tried yoga before. Only one of them had done it and still does it regularly, and they had the same kind of experience as I had regarding its value for sleeping patterns and getting started the next day. These days, I’m trying to get others to follow suit and at least try Yoga a few times. Muscles aren’t everything: it’s really about a balanced life and mind. Just like Kung Fu, which is ultimately about cultivating inner values and strengths, reducing your ego, and becoming a balanced person; it is not about hitting people! 🙂
Don’t be put off by people that treat or practice Yoga like some metaphysical new age thing. It’s an ancient form of exercise that has healed many people, both physically and mentally. If you, too, have a restless mind or feel stressed in your job or life in general, you really owe it to yourself to give Yoga a try!