Why Do You Practice Yoga?

People often ask me "Is yoga good for (fill in the blank)?" And invariably the answer is Yes! Yoga is good for so many things. It can help you become:

  • more flexible
  • stronger
  • taller
  • calmer
  • more focused
  • more peaceful
  • more present
  • happier
  • more joyous
  • more content
  • less stressed
  • less worried
  • more authentic
  • grounded
  • energized
  • more joyous
  • more content
  • and many more!

Yoga can also help you manage a variety of medical conditions. And it might even help you lose weight. That is a topic in and of itself - more on yoga and weight loss in a future newsletter! :)

I practice yoga for many reasons, but the main reason is that it helps me slow down my brain and be present with whatever I'm doing in the moment. I have a long history of being easily distracted.

When I was really little, my school teachers told my mother that I was a smart little girl, but rather than do my work, I'd spend my time looking at my shoes.

In high school, I got distracted with playing basketball and golf and my parents had to continuously remind me to do my homework. In college, I was distracted by playing on the golf team and the freedom of living on my own, and I often missed classes and forgot to do my homework.

But when I really started to be bothered my by flighty mind was when I entered the workforce. After I graduated from college with an engineering degree, I took a job at Hewlett Packard in California. I was really excited about my job and I wanted to do good work. (At the time, my goal in life was to be the CEO of a high tech company ;) )

But I found I had a really hard time doing good work because my brain was all over the place. I would sit at my computer to create a presentation and my brain would suddenly want me to check my email, then I'd get engrossed in an email about a problem on the manufacturing line and start chasing down a solution to that problem, then I'd decide that I needed to get a cup of tea. On the way to the break room I'd run into someone who had a question for me and I'd go to their desk. When that was done I'd get my tea, go back to my desk, and realize I'd wasted 2 hours and not yet started on my presentation. It was really frustrating.

And that's around the same time I started practicing yoga. I didn't start practicing yoga specifically to calm my mind, it was just a very lucky coincidence. Now, after 14 years of practicing and 5 years of teaching yoga, I understand how and why grounding, breathing, cultivating awareness, and meditating, are such powerful tools to help calm and focus the mind.

In next week's newsletter I'll go into more detail about specific yogic strategies for slowing down the fast thoughts in your brain. Fast thoughts (often called "Monkey Mind" in the yoga community) can range from being easily distracted, to your brain randomly jumping from topic to topic, to feeling stressed when the pace of an event or activity feels too slow for you. Please stay tuned next week for How Yoga Can Calm Your Mind.

Now I'd LOVE to hear from you! Why do YOU practice yoga? Please share your story in the Comments below!

Lots of love, Zelinda