Body,  Mind

8 lessons yoga taught me

One of my most recent yet most impactful discoveries is yoga. I’ve been practicing Vinyasa Yoga (aka. “Flow Yoga”) for a bit over a year now and it has impacted my life on many levels.

I had heard about the benefits of yoga from several friends and acquaintances, without ever giving it a try because I thought it was “boring”. I had always been more the “physical exercise means sweating” type of person, attending fitness and dance classes. Another one of my beliefs was that “I need to work out with others to be motivated and push myself”. Well, I was wrong. And it has been a beautiful discovery, leading to an increase in my self-confidence and self-esteem.

I first started looking for online classes as I was spending time in Portugal, on our land, late 2016. I was open to change and curious for new discoveries at that time. I had just taken several decisions such as leaving my corporate job and changing my diet (due to various intolerances). I started looking for good online tutorials, spending several days trying out different classes – until I came across “Boho Beautiful”. This travel-yoga- lifestyle-channel offers yoga, fitness, pilates meditation and even vegan food tutorials (from a beginner to advanced level) that are perfectly in line with my values and the lifestyle I started to lead at that time.

In practice, these are some of the benefits I have experienced from a daily, 15-30 minute yoga (and/or pilates) practice.

Physical benefits

  • Flexibility: even though I did ballet from the age of 5 to 18, I have never been very flexible; now, in only one year’s time I am getting close to achieving the splits!
  • Balance (check out poses such as the Helf Moon, Standing Splits, Dancer’s Pose, Side Plank, or Warrior III… you feel awesome once you reach them!)
  • The end of my back pain: I have suffered from chronic pain since the age of 16 because of a scoliosis, regularly calling upon physiotherapy to alleviate the pain. Since my yoga practice, I have not experienced any more back pain!
  • Body strength: yoga works and tones your entire body by contracting, lengthening and generally engaging muscles you did not know you possessed 🙂 

Mental benefits

  • A deeper connection with and greater respect for my body: after my burnout I was completely disconnected to my feelings and my physical senses. The practice of vinyasa showed me how to coordinate breath and movement, remain focused on the sensations in my body and respect my physical boundaries. 
  • Less anxiety, stress relief: yoga taught me to remain in the present moment, direct my thoughts instead of letting them control me.
  • The practice of self-care, self-acceptance and patience: one of the things that led to my burnout was my “straight A”, over-achiever, high-performer mindset, constantly pushing myself to be “perfect” and “the best” at everything. But with yoga, you just cannot expect to do a standing split or a headstand straight away (okay, maybe if you have previously practiced a lot of gymnastics or so). Obviously I was not happy about that, but I learned patience and perseverance, as well as being kind with myself, body and mind (no more negative self-talk)
  • Self-confidence through perseverance: my greatest achievement so far has been the headstand. I have come a loooong way. To cut the story short, doing a headstand was one of my greatest nightmares. I seriously thought I would break my neck and die. I hate being upside down (it makes me nauseous and my head spins) and the thought of falling over backwards made my blood run cold. So I thought to myself: “You need to get your sh*** together and get over this stupid fear. If others can do it, so can you. You are no less capable. Just do it.” At first I started practicing against the wall, then 5cm away from it, then on my carpet with cushions behind me. After practicing 5 minutes every singe day for 6 weeks, I did my first supported headstand. A moment I will never forget! I rarely felt SO proud of myself.

As I am writing this, I am actually realizing that my mental strength has immensely increased thanks to yoga. Consistency, perseverance and patience are some of the keys needed to achieving the goals you set yourself in life.

So – find a daily practice you enjoy, set yourself some goals and crush’em tiger!

Love,
Ana xxx

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