Here is a list of things I appreciate about yoga:
1. You can easily learn. For many, this is an oddly busy season of juggling many roles at once which doesn’t leave a lot of time to dive into hearty extensive workouts. There are free yoga videos on YouTube that range from five minutes to more than an hour.
2. My second favorite part is you don’t need any equipment or class membership, and can start it for the first time in any room of your house or right at your office desk. It does take some “trying” to get into it, so I suggest doing it more than once, but you can stay right where you are and bring nothing with you to begin.
3. I appreciate the versatility. There are workouts to wake up and activate, or to wind down and regulate. There are ones that challenge more mental focus or ones to strengthen and challenge physical muscles in your body. You can do them any time of day. Good sleep hygiene says no exercise a few hours before bed but because yoga can be used to stir you up or calm you down, it is safe to engage in even in the evening hours, and has even been shown to enhance sleep!
If you are someone who struggles with practicing mindfulness or deep breathing skill, yoga brings some body movements to help your focus. Know that your mind will still wander and that’s normal, do your best to notice it and bring your thoughts back to what you are doing in the moment without judging yourself for your mind going elsewhere.
Yoga brings mind and body together. So often we go about our days ignoring our bodies and our breathing. Both of which are constantly giving us important information to use to help ourselves if we pause and respond. Our mind and our body are never separated in the first place, but often get treated like they are. Yoga facilitates the communication between the two. Doing yoga gives an opportunity to pay attention to your breath, to slow it down and notice it. Same with the body, moving slower and more intentionally is beneficial but often hard in our multitasked world. It is helpful with managing impulses with self-regulation.
It is a very different way to workout. It is an intentionally thought-engaged body-connecting movement practice. You can run without thinking much about the mechanics or you can bust out a HIIT workout by mindlessly mimicking moves. Plenty of people do bring focused attention to their workout. Yoga just offers another way to do that.
Some people struggle with yoga having its roots in eastern religion (this is probably a whole other post for another day). I do believe you can bring yourself, bring your specific religious beliefs, and hold them together while engaging yoga as a physical practice of engaging mind and body without participating in religious practices or holding beliefs incompatible with your own. You can take or leave the suggestions of focus or intention by tailoring your thoughts during yoga to your own spiritual beliefs and practice, and leaving the unhelpful or contradictory parts behind.
With all that being said, I would like to share my favorite free YouTube yoga channel: yoga with Adriene (Find it here: https://www.youtube.com/c/yogawithadriene) I do not know her or get anything for recommending her. I just find her to be the right balance of serious and goofy, authentic for sure, gentle and challenging, well informed about anatomy and mind-body connection, frequently acknowledging the deep connection to real emotions. I encourage you to try one out. If you don’t like it, try at least one more. Each video is a little different and she has a ton online. There are also lots of other instructors out there if she doesn’t happen to fit your style.
If after all that, you still hate it and are looking for a similarly free resource to get you to move your body as an outlet, I recommend www.darebee.com: it has a lot of handouts for a wide variety of workouts by type, length of time, equipment (or none).
If you find while doing any of these workouts that some thoughts, images, or emotions bubble up, and you need someone to process them with, give us a call and we will get you connected to one of our therapists. We’d love to have the opportunity to sort through it with you.