The benefits of balance between body, mind

What began as a trendy workout 10 years ago has actually been around for over 5,000 years. In fact, last year, yoga ranked top of the list in the “it” workout for physical fitness, enhanced mental state, and overall sense of well-being.

You hear about yoga in almost every community throughout the country. From the white-collared executives getting private yoga on their lunch breaks, to the soccer moms practicing at their local community centers on a donation-based class. It’s everywhere.

What I love about yoga is it can begin as a physical practice, but in theory, evolves into so much more. No one tells you to eat better or be a nicer person, but as you begin a yoga practice, you begin to acknowledge there is so much more to yoga than a workout. It’s a way of life, and a means to create a lifestyle change.

I have experienced yoga’s healing power in a very real way. I had tried yoga in the past, but never really liked it — perhaps I had gone to the “wrong” teacher for me. It wasn’t until 2006 when I dove head first into the world of yoga. I had been in an accident that tore my ACL in my left knee. I was left with no other workout options. I had been an all-around athlete with a huge background in gymnastics, and at this point, I couldn’t even walk my dog. I was depressed, and asked myself, “What was I to do?”

I found a small yoga studio in my hometown, and registered for my first class. I loved the studio, the teacher, and the practice … on this day, my life changed forever! I was immediately hooked to the physical practice and quickly recognized the healing benefits within myself that created an enhanced, happy way of being.

Yoga not only helped me rehabilitate my knee, but it also filtered into every avenue of my life. It gave me an opportunity to face my ego. Ego can sometimes push you too hard, and from this comes injury. There is a beautiful communication that develops between you and your body to listen for an “OK.”

For some of us, yoga teaches you to push a little harder to find your edge. For others, usually with a competitive background, you learn when to back off. It is a practice that will take you to a place of feeling almost uncomfortable. You breathe, and see if you can settle into the posture, and then notice the discomfort dissipate.

This practice starts to filter through into your daily life. Finding the times where you’re in an uncomfortable situation, feeling frustrated, annoyed, angry, etc., and learning to breathe through those moments, just like you learned to do in your yoga practice. You begin to notice and be aware of what triggers you. The poses that are the most challenging are usually the ones that you need the most. It’s so humbling and so incredibly healing.

Along with the personal growth that comes with a yoga practice, comes the countless ways yoga can improve your health.

Just to name a few, yoga improves your flexibility, builds muscle strength and helps you focus.

Various yoga styles offer a slightly different experience in the body and mind. It is important that the student search for the right studio, the right teacher and the right kind of yoga for them. It’s a known reality that there are many yoga teachers these days, and each has a significant following. Essentially, we will all find someone we jive with more than others. Find the right fit for you and enjoy the journey.

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Anna Bazalar is owner of Studio Barre & Soul. She can be reached at www.BarreSoulKauai.com

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