Why Yoga Is More Than Just An Instagram Picture

Throughout the past year, my Instagram feed has been flooded with photos of yoga poses captioned with inspirational quotes, at which, to be honest, I've always scoffed and kept scrolling.

Namaste? Sounds like a load of crap to me.

The "yogi lifestyle" just has never seemed legitimate to me. What could you possibly gain from being in a quiet, dim room, putting your body into poses that will supposedly "teach you how to listen to your body" and "lead you to inner peace."

When I think about getting fit, my mind immediately wanders to a gym with cardio equipment and weights, not a studio with a yoga mat and spirituality. It just has never seemed to be an effective workout to me.

But, if it's not, why do people pay such an absurd amount of money for each session?

When my friends invited me to a free hot yoga class, I decided to finally give it a try and learn what all the hype is about. At no cost, what did I have to lose?

I soon realized there may not have been anything to lose, but there sure was a lot to gain.

As I laid in Savasana pose, preparing for the class to begin, I felt a little silly. I was in a room full of silent people laying on their backs, taking deep, conscious breaths.

The instructor began speaking in a calming voice, requesting us to focus on exhaling all of our stress and worries and then leave them on the mat.

"Every day is a new day, and every breath is a new chance for opportunity."

She went on to say we are all exactly where we need to be right now in this very moment. We are perfect just the way we are. As she continued, her words began to resonate with me.

It was like she was speaking directly to me, and I was no longer in a room full of strangers. All of the thoughts that previously flooded my mind with stress seemed to lose their significance.

I allowed myself to exhale all of the negativity: the pimple that popped up on my chin that morning, the hours of homework I had yet to complete, the amount of money I spent at the bar this month, my never-ending to-do list at work and the constant battle I have fought with my eating disorder.

Three minutes into my first yoga experience and I already found a way to leave all of that negativity on the mat.

Not only did the class offer a great burn and made me sweat more than I ever have before, it also forced me to reflect on everything I'd been through.

I have endured a lot during my 21 years of life. I've judged myself harshly, allowed the opinions of others to dictate many of my personal decisions and stressed over stupid things that truly haven't been worth it.

Why? Why have I allowed these things to govern my happiness? This is my life.

Every breath I take is my breath. Every day I live is my day. Every decision I make is my decision. And, I am incredible.

I don't need others to compliment or praise me. Sure, it's nice to hear how great I am every now and then, but why do I have to seek this admiration from others? The only person from whom I need to seek acceptance is myself.

Yes, I gained all of this insight from a single yoga class. Everyone deserves to take a step back and reflect on how incredible he or she is, and I have discovered that yoga is the perfect setting for doing so.

So, if you haven't already embarked on your journey for inner peace, I highly recommend signing up for a yoga class.

Namaste.