Life Lessons I Learned from Yoga, or How Yoga Keeps Me Sane

yoga blog post image

Here’s a pretty nature scene photo I took in Taiwan, because it’s kind of weird to take photos in yoga class.

I’ve been doing yoga consistently for about 10 years now. If it were a person, I would marry it.

In the past year or so, I took a hiatus from blogging here, not on purpose but just due to the sheer amount of the priorities I made willingly. I switched jobs twice. Some new faces entered into my life while some left. I continued some hobbies and dropped others. I know everyone goes through changes like these, and for me, yoga has been a trusty companion that helps restore my physical and inner balance through my ups and downs.

Yoga releases the stress caused by my demanding work projects or upsetting situations. It reassured me during my multiple waves of quarterlife crisis by calming my crippling anxiety and panic about uncertainties. I have silently shed a few tears during Child pose and shavasana multiple times. In my opinion and experience, this form of moving meditation is one of the best methods of anger management. When I would enter a studio furious or disappointed, after exerting myself to exhaustion for a while, I leave knowing that I can eventually forgive, let go, and move on. Yoga has provided important positive reminders of my blessings and confirmations of my strengths through all of my breakups and heartbreaks. When friends tell me about certain hardships they’re facing that I cannot help with besides offering emotional support, I pray for them and send positive energy towards their way when I shut my eyes during lotus pose.

There were plenty of triumphs and happy moments to share with my metaphorical old friend too. During the classes I attended right after achieving something important to me, I felt invincible from controlling my body to take actions in just the ways I want. Very often when my mind is cleared from moving from pose to pose, the things I appreciate and those I treasure in my life would randomly pop into my mind, and I would be grateful for their existence. And maybe it’s all the “heart-opening poses,” but when I am happily in love, I would smile and giggle through the movements and my affection for that person would feel intensified somehow afterwards. At the peaks of my self-confidence, I would feel extra powerful and beautiful from being able to move gracefully, making me feel like a badass Peaceful Warrior.

Through doing and the words from instructors over the years, I’ve learned the following from yoga:

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If I Could Live-Tweet A Bikram Yoga Class

6:25 pm: Wow ok it felt like I just hit a brick wall made of hot air when I opened the door and walked in. I can do this! #healthy

6:27 pm: Goddammit why is every available free spot still DAMP with the sweat from the previous person? Gross! Will try to be early from now on! #hot

Image6:30 pm: We’re starting to breathe like crazy people staring at the sky praying for aliens. Feels like I’m inhaling in 50% humidity + my neck hurts!

6:35 pm: So glad to do the Half Moon Pose! I’ve done this 1000+ times before #NBD Ooh look at that drop of sweat gliding down that @HotGuyInFront’s spine

6:38 pm: Um the Awkward Pose is SO awkward. It looks like we’re being forced to hold over a toilet ugh my thighs are burning too

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6:41 pm: I feel you, bro! RT@FellowNewbie: God what did I get myself into!? #BikramYoga

Eagle pose

6:44 pm: …the Eagle Pose looks nothing like an eagle unless an eagle really needs to go to the bathroom but can’t and is vogueing at the same time

6:47 pm: What is this pose called? The Ashamed Flamingo?! Why so many birds, you guys?!

ashamed flamingo

6:50 pm: Oh wow I didn’t know that my knees have the ability to sweat until today. #Interesting

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Get Your Zen On And Yoga It Up

This may come as a shock to you, but I’ve never had pictures taken during my yoga practice. This picture sums up the feeling you get from yoga pretty well though.

My qualifications: Been doing yoga for the past 7 years, averaging about once a week. Actually just did it yesterday.

What it is: The physical aspect of an ancient practice. It consists of flowing through a series of poses that are balancing, aligning, stretching, twisting, and inverting, all while putting a great emphasis on deep breathing.

What you’ll actually be doing: Flowing through a combination of “active” postures meaning just keeping in positions involve the small muscles in your body. Uncommon stretches that make you think, “We’re doing that? Really?” Maintaining balancing positions that unexpectedly work your core, legs, and arms a lot. Conscious breathing. A bit of meditation.

Good for people who are:  in any level of fitness, really, because usually instructors will tell you different difficult levels for each pose. And you are encouraged to just go into Child Pose or Down Dog whenever you’re too fatigued.

Benefits: Building lean long muscles, increasing flexibility, improving postures, and boost mental health. Seriously.

Music played during class: Lyric-less songs. Think Anya or “mood music.”

The instructors: (I personally think yoga instructors are the closest thing to angels on earth, but that’s just me) Very positive and calm. Usually will demonstrate each pose and come adjust you when needed. Seem to have a very poetic flow too when it comes to their words. Some common practices I’ve noticed over the years are reading philosophical quotes and telling inspiring stories.

The classmates: Surprisingly very diverse. Anyone from athletic muscular dudes, fit and pretty ladies, and people who seem a bit hippie, to cool seniors and pregnant mamas.

Suggested attire: Something form-fitting but not too tight that allows you to move all crazy without showing any of your goodies. I highly recommend going barefoot but if you must wear socks, wear ones with good grip.

What you will feel like right afterwards: Relaxed and peaceful. All limber.

What you might feel like the next day: A bit sore in your core, various tendons, shoulders, and triceps.

Bonus: You’re going to learn some human body terms like scapula and Sanskirt words like chakra.

Extra tips:

  • Bring a towel if you tend to sweat a lot. Or cover your entire mat with a towel of the size if you sweat A LOT.
  • It’s true that yoga is something you can do on your own, but I really suggest going to classes first to learn the proper alignments, and then once you’re familiar with everything, feel free to do it at home to a video or voice recording like podcasts.

Let me know if you have any questions! This is the first one in the series after all (Reason for starting here) and I don’t really know what other people are concerned with before they try a different kind of exercise. Everything is generalized for succinct explanations, too.

Namaste,

Chin