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Barnegat Light, NJ 08006

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The Yoga Experience

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  • “I don’t like this,” I thought as my fingers sunk into my mat and I reached my hips up in to the air in attempt to find the pose called “downward facing dog”. My gaze wandered around the room, scanning the other yogis and their form that I tried to mimic. This went on for the entirety of the class. We moved and stretched and twisted and breathed and all I was trying to do was keep up and not confuse my left and right. As we made our way into the final pose, Savasana, and I lied there with my eyes closed, I felt peace. The room that was hot with energy had suddenly become so calm and it was like I could feel the air stilling and everyone’s molecules of energy that had been racing around the room just start to float, hanging there above us all. I decided I would go to another yoga class. Not because I liked it, but because I knew that I needed it.
    5am and I am woken by the most irritating alarm clock in the world. It’s no wonder I can wake up so easily. The city is still dark and asleep, but I am putting on my sneakers and heading out the door. When you’re training for a marathon you don’t need much motivation to wake up and run- if you want to make it to mile 26, you better train. 12 miles down before my 9 hour work day. I shower, chug a smoothie, make my lunch and head to the office. By 7pm my body is sore and my mind is numb. I don’t want to go to yoga, but somehow my legs take me there and I find myself sitting on my mat with my eyes closed, hands on my knees as we settle in and calm our minds for class. I’m a bit more familiar with the poses since I’ve been going to yoga a couple times a week now and it’s getting easier to follow along. Do I dare say that the asanas are even somewhat- enjoyable? This evening feels better than usual. I found a gentle yoga class and my body needs this as much as my mind does.  As the bell rings and the vibration moves through my body, I rise from Savasana and feel transical and peaceful. I slept well that night.  And so my yoga journey continued. I would use yoga to relax my mind and stretch my muscles. Long runs, intense spin classes and heavy gym sessions would be complemented by evening asanas and breath work. By the end of my training and after competing the race I started putting more time and effort into my yoga practice. I no longer went because I knew it was good for me, I went because I wanted to go. During the day my mind is constantly running and churning and there really isn’t a way to stop this. Work, family, friends, goals, bills, vacations - all these aspects of life are on a constant loop racing around my brain. Yoga lets me hit the stop button, allowing my mind to cool down, recharge and restart. I think that yoga is most challenging for people with high levels of energy to get into- the ones that are running, spinning, boxing- and I get that. These intense workouts are amazing stress relievers and I often refer to my long runs as “therapy sessions”. But what happens at therapy? You talk about it. Which means your mind is busy. And while yes, it is good to think and talk things through, it’s also important to take time to push thoughts aside and not think about them.  This is the most 
    challenging part (and also the most rewarding). When allowing the mind to settle and be still 
    your senses awaken - the feeling of your breath entering and exiting your body, the thump of your heart beat, the weight of gravity holding you down - all of these things that are constantly occuring every second of our lives you suddenly become so thankful for and connected with.  Yoga always reminds me, especially on “off days”, that I am here and I am alive and that is something to be grateful for.  And what about all of the other souls that are there in the room with me? Every single individual is practicing yoga for their own reasons. An empty room becomes so full - full of unique individuals, in some way or form striving to deepen their practice, full of different energies, full of different backgrounds and stories. Many people view their yoga journey as a personal evolution. Growing more mindful, stronger, more flexible and more conscious about everyday decisions, a yoga journey has no end. One of the things I’ve come to love about yoga is doing my asana practice in group settings. I am a very outgoing individual and I’ve found that I feed off other people’s energies. Having all of these other bodies moving, bending and breathing around my helps my physical body to charge and my mind to relax. There is something very comforting in knowing that all of the other people in the room are also taking time from their own busy days and investing it in themselves.  Because my favorite way to practice asana is in group settings with other individuals and because I do enjoy teaching and public speaking, I decided to get my Yoga Teacher Certification. My weekends became filled with yoga lectures, asana practice, meditation and anatomy lessons. When immersing myself so deeply into yoga I discovered so much about my own practice and my life. And throughout this self-discovery I had the privilege of continuing my yoga journey with the most incredible group of people. Yoga seems to attract the most beautiful souls - people from all different walks of life and with all these different end goals. The common factor is always an understanding of all the benefits of yoga.  Now that I have graduated I try to teach classes that draw in people that are new to yoga and hesitant to try it. There is always a hesitance to try something new or uncomfortable and I think the way to introduce yoga to more individuals is by making it available in different forms.Asana does not need to take place in a yoga studio- it can take place in a gym, a park, a store, a bar - anywhere that you can fit some mats in a safe setting. Yoga does not need to be limited to any specific location, style, or speed and I hope to share it with as many people as I can.  
    5 Reasons to Start a Yoga Practice
    1) Mental Benefits. Starting a yoga practice means that you will be setting aside time for yourself to clear your mind and push outside thoughts away for about an hour each day. This reset and recharge will have tremendous benefits for your outlook on life and personal growth.2) Physical Benefits. Yoga will keep you mobile. There is a misconception that yoga is just stretching and that is absolutely false. Yoga also builds up strength, not only in your muscles, but your bones as well. Incorporate yoga into your weekly routine and the asanas will contribute to preserving your youth.
  • 3) The Energy. When you start a yoga practice I highly encourage you to incorporate group classes as opposed to only practicing solo in your home or apartment. By going to a studio, gym, etc. you pick up on the energy around you and meet others who may share similar goals.4) Lifestyle Changes. Often times when people begin a yoga practice, they start to make life adjustments as well.  Your personal yoga journey will allow for a lot of self discovery which will lead to changes in your daily life- whether they are big or small. Anything from becoming more conscious of your breath when in a stressful situation or to changing up your diet to better serve your body may be in store for you.
  • 5) Accomplishment. When you begin your yoga journey the asanas will confuse you, the poses will get mixed up and you'll be looking around the room to figure out what is going on- and that's okay! This is all part of the
    progression and the wonderful thing about yoga is that you will constantly be learning and striving to master new poses and learn new ones. The sense of accomplishment and pride that you will feel along the way will boost your
    self-esteem and confidence and keep you hooked to learn more.