5 Reasons Why All Millennials Would Benefit From Practicing Yoga
Millennials are an interesting bunch.
While most of us can think back to a time when we easily pulled off living without the Internet, Google Maps and Uber, I can't be alone when I express the "I have no idea how I survived" sentiment toward the simpler times of my childhood.
Generation-Y has many amazing tools for navigating life in the 2010s. Smartphones have enabled us to have literally any information at our fingertips at all times.
We can easily stay connected to our friends and family members who live hundreds, maybe thousands of miles away via social media and FaceTime.
New industries and new types of jobs are popping up constantly, and we have many avenues for self-expression and entrepreneurship available to us that generations before us didn't.
But, there's a fine line between being connected in a positive, beneficial way and being so connected that we end up disconnected from our own lives. Gen-Y is definitely toeing the line.
How can we find a balance between staying connected to what's going on in the world while still remaining present with ourselves and others in our immediate surroundings?
I'm not here to suggest we give up all forms of social media and technology because that's just extremely unrealistic, but what if there were a way to take an hour or so a day — maybe even just a few times a week — to step away from our phones and spend some time being in the moment with ourselves?
Well, there is. It's called yoga and Millennials are in desperate need of it more than any other age group on the planet right now.
Here are five reasons why:
1. We're materialistic
One of the biggest pitfalls of living in the modern world is how obsessed we have become with things: clothes, cars, jewelry, iPads, you name it.
While having a home full of nice things might be great, it won't help us enhance our experiences, relationships or mindsets.
In yoga, we learn two things exist in the world: our true selves and everything else. That's it.
Most of the time, we're connected to what's outside of ourselves (material possessions) when we need to be connected to what's inside.
Obtaining material items will only get us so far in life, and we should be investing our resources into things that will help us grow as people. Jobs, money, fancy things and even people come and go.
The constant will always be our souls, so we should start getting to know them.
2. We can't function without technology
This one speaks for itself. How often have you found yourself sitting at dinner with a group of friends only to discover no one is speaking to one another because everyone is looking at their phones?
How many times have you laid down to go to bed, only to mindlessly scroll through Instagram until it's well past your "bed time?" Ever spiral into a panic when seeing red in your phone's battery life?
In most yoga studios, phones aren't permitted into class. We're stuck with ourselves, the other students and the teacher for the duration of the class, which forces us to let the world go on without immediate involvement for a little bit.
I promise it'll still be there when class is over.
3. We treat our bodies terribly
We put our bodies through the wringer on a daily basis. Poor diet, extreme laziness, lack of sleep, alcohol and drug abuse, prescription medications, staring at phone/computer screens/TVs for hours every day, sitting at a desk five days a week...
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Unfortunately, in most cases, we won't even know the damage this is doing to us until it's too late.
Yoga forces us to get up, get moving and treat our bodies with respect. It connects the mind and body through movement, breath and meditation.
When we're doing yoga, we feel things in our bodies we might not have been aware of before and we learn what we need to work on them, both on and off the mat. Even when practiced just a few times a week, our bodies will start responding to a little TLC.
4. We're obsessed with being "perfect"
Pop culture will not stop perpetuating the idea of "perfection." Models are highly Photoshopped and celebrities can easily afford to spend three hours at the gym, five days a week, working with a trainer.
They also have very large disposable incomes for expensive hair/skin products, plastic surgery, makeup artists, clothing and stylists that help to make them look even more flawless.
It's hard for us to ignore the images of beautiful people who constantly bombard our feeds, and it's so easy to start striving for an ideal that is unachievable.
With a consistent practice, yoga teaches us we are perfectly imperfect. Our bodies are designed to keep us alive; they're the vehicles that carry us through all of our life experiences.
It doesn't matter what they look like, as long as they're healthy. No one is perfect and you shouldn't let anyone tell you otherwise.
5. We compare ourselves to everyone
Social media and smart phones have made it possible for us to be weirdly connected and up-to-date on the lives of basically everyone we've ever met.
While this does have its benefits, the downside is we only see what other people want us to see, which typically is highly filtered only to show the happiest moments, the best pictures and the most fun things they're doing.
(Seriously, most people don't extensively post about their problems across social media for all of their "friends" to see.)
Thoughts like, "Ugh, I wish I was as skinny as her," or "His job seems so cool," and "Wow, she's two years younger than me and so much more successful than I am," start popping up, and we can feel down about ourselves.
Yoga isn't about competition. It's about being the best possible version of ourselves in the present moment. You have to remember only you can be in your body the same way only you can live your story, go after your goals and experience your feelings.
Regardless of whether Susie can touch her toes in a forward bend and you can't, you're getting the exact same benefits as she is, so long as you're trying.
In yoga, at work, in relationships, wherever, comparing yourself to anyone for any reason is not only unproductive, but also detrimental to your emotional well-being and self-confidence.
Regardless of what you think yoga is all about, check out a class and see how it makes you feel.
Do some research to find a studio in your area that seems interesting, ask friends if they have any class recommendations, or if they'd like to try yoga with you.
Take classes at a few different studios and experience different styles of yoga to find out what's best for you.
If you don't want to spend a fortune on yoga classes, donation-based studios are popping up in most major cities, which allow you to pay whatever you feel comfortable paying.
Many people, myself included, have experienced countless benefits from practicing yoga, not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Be open and take some time to connect with yourself.
It might not be easy to take that leap (spending time alone with our thoughts can be scary), but the first step is often the hardest.