By Libby Allnatt
If the word “yoga” brings to mind human pretzels and uncomfortable humming, I have some news for you.
I am probably the least “zen” person you will ever meet. To those around me, I may seem laidback. My quiet demeanor and general introversion help with this. But my typical day usually involves downing a scalding latte and internally screaming “WHAT ELSE YOU GOT FOR ME, UNIVERSE? I WILL TAKE. IT. ON.” What can I say? I’m a workaholic. Someone who lives by a to-do list. Someone who has a rigid bedtime routine. Fall asleep with makeup on? Never! I’m neurotic, you could say.
So, you could see why yoga wouldn’t sound appealing to me. Take some time to slow down and breathe? In this economy?!
All jokes aside, college life is fast-paced. We juggle several jobs, classes and social obligations. We have an entire week where chugging caffeine and sleeping in the library is considered the norm, for goodness sake (#finals, for you non-college folk).
That’s exactly why yoga rocks. I started attending some free yoga classes on campus my freshman year, signed up for a fitness pass at the gym so I could go to some group classes, and now I live by home tutorials almost daily. A few of the benefits:
It helps me relax.
When was the last time you stopped to breathe? Sounds crazy, right? But seriously. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Our lives are so busy, sometimes we forget to tune into such a basic phenomenon. Yoga is guided by your breath (this would have sounded crazy to pre-yoga Libby) and forces you to tune into your body and clear your mind.
It makes me strong.
My first introduction to yoga was in high school, when my cross-country teammates and I would do some downward dogs and cat-cows after practice. Yoga is a workout; it’s not about the superficial, but I bet you won’t hate the effects on your abs, you know what I’m sayin’? But it feels like a more authentic and worthwhile form of exercise. It involves stretching and bending, which is CRUCIAL after a tough strength-building workout and welcome after heart-pumping cardio.
It keeps me disciplined.
At the beginning of December, I started a 30 Days of Yoga challenge. I would be lying if I said I was perfectly on-track and didn’t skip a few days here and there. (I make up for it by occasionally doing two a day, I promise.) There are days (like today, cough) where going to the mat sounds like the worst thing ever. But I’m always glad when I do. The idea of a one-hour class at the gym or a 37-minute video tutorial (like today, cough) make me cringe. In this fast-paced world, my attention span can’t handle that. Yet it can.
Here are some of my favorite home yoga videos worth checking out. (Most gyms or workout facilities also offer yoga classes, and sometimes your first class is even free! So you have nothing to lose, except some knots in your shoulders and pesky anxiety.) You don’t have to be an expert to do them. Yoga With Adriene, my favorite online source for yoga, is designed to be accessible to all yogis, old and new.
Tara Stiles is a little more focused on fitness, and the videos are a bit more challenging, making them good if you can’t make it to the treadmill and are craving a more intense workout.
And check out The Chic Daily’s tips for 10 simple yoga poses for strength and relaxation.
Yoga connects you to your physical and mental body, as well as strengthens your body and mind. It’s worth a shot. Have a favorite yoga pose? Let us know in the comments!