Yoga has become my favorite kind of therapy recently.
I've been having a rough time emotionally over the last few months — I'm exhausted, lonely, craving human connection in the worst ways, and it's been tough to really find the root of these issues.
My March horoscope said this would happen. But then again, perhaps it's just desperately longing for springtime and for the damn snow along the sidewalks to melt.
March has been a mess, but not necessarily a bad mess.
Let me rephrase: March has been messy.
Through this mess, I've gravitated more intently on my yoga practice.
I've been into yoga for many years, but never obediently... until the last six weeks.
I've been practicing almost every day in some way, taking classes four or five times a week and obsessively practicing my damn forearm stand religiously (I will get it eventually).
Along with my body growing stronger, I've noticed my mind and soul are growing stronger in ways I didn't think were possible.
Here are five ways in which yoga does a body, — mind and soul — good:
1. My physical body is working in ways I never knew possible.
Yes, I've been pretty active in my life, and I'm in good shape.
I eat pizza and French fries too often, but I'm relatively healthy, for what it's worth.
However, over the last six weeks, I feel stronger.
My legs feel leaner, more flexible and I can noticeably handle more obstacles.
The five flights of stairs don't seem like a challenge nearly as much.
I've also noticed in every class my progress in each pose I take on.
Whether it be balancing longer in crow pose or folding deeper in forward fold, my body is transforming in every practice.
The way you can contort your body and support your own weight in complicated poses is fascinating and it's a constant encouragement to get going and keep practicing.
2. I'm learning to let go.
One of my instructors adamantly reminds me in class to let go of whatever bad vibes I bring into class, whatever the day has given me or whatever my mind may be stuck on and simply leave it on the mat.
I'm learning to let go of self-doubt and to let go of negativity and negativity coming from myself and from others.
I'm learning to let go of things that are simply not for me. It's a constant battle, and some days I'm horrible at it, but the journey is all about small victories.
3. I'm more present.
My first yoga class a long time ago, I remember being so distracted and anxious for the end of class to come.
I couldn't arrive in my practice at that time and it took many years before I even learned what that meant for me.
To keep your mind present is terribly challenging. To stay in one moment and not let your mind wonder to every other thing you are thinking of takes time.
Yoga has taught me the importance of being mindful and present, not only in class, but also in my day-to-day activities, and especially in my relationships.
To be present means to be grateful for this very second and to think about what that moment means — at that moment.
4. I'm less anxious.
Most people who meet me wouldn't know I struggle with anxiety.
But then again, that's usually the case with anxiety.
As any type of exercise helps ease tension and releases endorphins, so of course yoga is a natural anti-anxiety solution.
It's been more beneficial than any form of pill I've taken and it doesn't make me feel out of control.
5. I have peace of mind.
I am essentially more peaceful on a day-to-day basis.
Obviously, living in a New York City, working 60 hours a week and trying to figure out who you are as a person can drive any calm yogi into anger or despair.
However, yoga is helping me maintain a sense of peace within myself and my journey.
It doesn't mean I don't get upset or mad anymore, it just means that I'm beginning to accept things more easily.
I am beginning to accept people more, and most importantly, I am accepting myself and what the universe is giving me.
My yoga practice is still new, and there are so many goals I have made for myself that I want to accomplish, but these short six weeks have taught me so much about myself, so why not keep on going?