Physical activity can improve your health, give you a feeling of well-being and reduce the risk of developing several diseases. It can also improve symptoms of chronic conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, anxiety, depression, and alleviate stress. The health benefits of Physical activity and exercise are immediate and long-term and will definitely improve quality of life.
So then why is it so difficult for many people to get the exercise they need? Well, I know personally I can come up with an endless list of excuses or other activities that I "need" to do. With two children, a husband, and a full time job there always seems to be some chore, task or duty. So, inevitably something as "luxurious" as taking care of myself by attending an hour long yoga class seems selfish. But if we don't take the time for self, we not only sacrifice our own well-being, but that of family members as well. We need to replenish and recharge via physical activity as well as other self-care activities so that we have enough energy to care for our loved ones.
Yoga is my lifeline in this stress filled crazy world. I remember when I first discovered I love yoga. It was a Sunday early morning and I forced myself to roll out of bed instead of rolling deeper into my ridiculously comfy blankets. Several people had been suggesting that I try yoga. They insisted I'd love it and it would be good for someone like me, as I have aches and pains from lupus. I finally decided to give it a shot. I didn't know what to expect, but I figured this class at the YMCA couldn't be too difficult or "weird." I walked in still a little sleep groggy and immediately was struck by how quiet and peaceful it was. I grabbed a mat and laid on it, as everyone else was splayed out, some even seemed asleep. I was pleasantly surprised when a fit brother stepped up to teach the class, which I honestly was not expecting. I figured my instructor would be a high ponytail wearing, lulu lemon clad blonde woman.
We moved smoothly from one pose to the next. Doing what I would later learn is vinyasa yoga, which focuses on the flow between postures or asanas. The instructor informed us that the most important thing to do is breathe. Not just your run-of-the-mill in and out breathing, but a very deliberate and deep, through the nose, synchronized type breathing called Ujjayi Pranayama, which translates to "victorious breath" and is also called "ocean breath" because it sounds like lapping waves of the sea.