Why Do Yoga?

Last night at dinner, a friend asked me to tell him in three minutes why he should do yoga.  Of course, 12 hours later, I have come up many other great reasons that I didn’t give when put on the spot, so I decided to share them here.  There are the obvious reasons that everyone tells you, but I want this list to be different.  I want this list to kick you in the guts with curiosity.

  • Yoga forces you to be still and get quiet.  It is one thing to stop talking, but it is quite another to learn to turn off the voice in your head. If we are going to fulfill our destinies on this planet, we have to learn to disconnect from the chaos that is all around and within us.  Yoga helps in a way that meditation alone does not.
  • You will learn to manipulate your breath and increase your lung’s capacity to hold that breath.    When I first came to yoga, it was as if my breath was afraid to fill me up, or better yet, I was afraid to let it.  This process of stretching your lungs so that they really sustain you is so beautiful.  It is symbolic to me of our capacity to really experience the fullness of life.
  • Everything that you do in yoga, in that safe space on your mat, can be accessed off your mat as well.  Think about tree pose.  On one hand, it is obviously about learning to balance on one leg.  Now let’s take it off the mat.  The thing that we know for sure is that living life fully, without over-doing one part, and under-doing another takes skills that most of us simply don’t come by naturally.  Learning to achieve balance in the body can translate into achieving balance in your relationships, your work, your passions and all other aspects of your life.
  • It will improve your self-confidence and self-image, but if that is already nicely inflated, then I promise it will humble you in a heartbeat.  There are things that you can learn to accomplish with your body that you never thought possible, but first, it will feel like you are completely disconnected from it.  With every personal yoga pose “failure”, you will learn to make it a success, and that will keep your Ego in balance, as well as your life.
  • Yoga teaches you about trust.  Let’s face it, we’ve all been hurt and broken by life.  Hearts get closed, hips get tight and shoulders get stiff with a too-busy life.  Yoga cracks you wide open.  It peels back the layers of pain and allows you to learn to live life on life’s terms.  It changes you in ways that you don’t even know are possible.  And truly, it is better that you don’t know too much before you embark on this journey.  If you did, you might be afraid to start because of all the things that you will be forced to let go of in order to move forward.
  • Yoga introduces you to a part of yourself that you have never known existed.  You will not be the same person once you truly start, and you’ll wish you had started sooner.  I was already in my upper 30’s when I started my teacher training.  I don’t even look the same as I did before I started all this.
  • And on that note, it really does make you look and feel younger.  The other day, I sat down criss- cross-applesauce to play with my boyfriend’s daughter, and she commented that she had never seen a grownup do that.  Yoga did that!
  • We are these amazing beings of Light and we are trapped in this heavy, dense physical existence.  Yoga reminds and teaches us how to fly in spite of that.

If you happen to be one of those particularly stubborn people who don’t believe a word you have read and are still not convinced, that’s ok.  Don’t do it for any of these reasons.  Do it to prove me wrong. : )