If you’ve never done yoga, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Normally, you have to show up on the mat a few several classes, get into downward dog a few dozen times, and relax deeply into Savasana before you really start getting it. Getting that yoga is more than just exercise. Here’s the secret: a really good yoga practice does more for your head+heart than it did for your bones+muscles.
Granted, most people, myself included, were initially attracted to yoga for the physical and health benefits. In a classic over-achiever fashion, I was attempting to run multiple marathons last year & thought I’d take up yoga to avoid getting injured with all those miles. Extended stretching would keep me loose & limber, core strength and muscle toning would help with my endurance, and my klutzy self could use more coordination and balance in my life in general.
Little did I realize that instead of me doing yoga, yoga would do me!
Do me good in my head & do me good in my heart. Class after class, I’d show up on the mat. Stretching further, bending more each week. But also, softening, calming, releasing, shifting, and loving.
Each pigeon required me to release- both my muscles and my expectations of my body. Each triangle invited me let go of perfect and accept where my arms & hips shifted that day. Every camel pose taught me to bend over backward, literally & figuratively, for myself, which can only be done with an open heart. Each warrior I challenged me to look in the mirror and see a powerful, beautiful body at my beck and call 24 hours a day.
Put simply, each and every pose was an invitation to physical posture that held doors open wide for head+heart lessons. Leading me through practice was the gentle voice & calming guide: Listen to your body, let go of your expectations, be kind yourself today, breath deeply into wherever your body is calling for air, rest when you feel the need, make this your practice, it doesn’t matter what anybody else is doing, what pose is your body yearning to do, find your own rhythm, and so many other soul nourishing nuggets in each class.
Yoga has done more for me than I could have ever imagined
Beginning to practice regularly opened the door for me to value self-love, self-care, body-love, gratitude, peace, and emotional well-being just as much as I valued my physical well-being. I still go to yoga to get my stretch on and see how well I can balance in tree pose, but I deeply desire the way it keeps my monkey mind on track and my heart softened to myself and the world around me. If you’ve never tried yoga or been to a yoga class that was soul nourishing, I encourage you to give it a try a few more times, find the studio & instructor that are right for you & simply show up on the mat, without expectations, and with an open heart.
Amanda is the spiritual gardener at Grow Soul Beautiful , a daily blog that blends yoga, photography, and soul nourishment to encourage women to embrace their beautiful inside and out. Our mission is to feature a variety of ways that readers can enrich their lives through self-love, creative endeavors, and listening to the gentle whispers of their hearts.
The Beauty of Yoga is that it’s a great way to connect mind+body, and the Beauty of Photography is that it’s an easily accessible creative outlet for everybody. To help you Grow Soul Beautiful, we feature an incredible mix of “light workers” who are offering e-courses, workshops, retreats, books, and more to nurture your spirit and nourish your soul.