I started yoga in 2003. Yoga was presented in an acting class. I really didn’t think too deeply about it or whether it was “me.” Then I took my first “real” yoga class. WOW! It was hard. I went back to yoga only in dance, acting, or similar types of classes.
Then, in the winter of 2004, I was a victim of sexual assault on my college campus. It is a common statistic, sadly enough, and something I wasn’t ready to deal with. As a result, I spiraled into an unhealthy relationship with my body, eating issues, ever-exercising, depression, general confusion, and feelings of helplessness. I was scared by men. Scared by life. Scared by me. And petrified that I would start crying and be unable to stop.
Then, one day, as a way to keep my calories down and body slim, I went back to yoga class.
It was hard. Probably the hardest thing I had ever done.
I remember feeling uncomfortable. Awkward. Overwhelmed. Inflexible. Weak. Scared. And then finally: Relieved. Happy. Relaxed.
Yoga managed to shut off my brain and tune me into Lora.
I started to be a yoga addict. I went to class every single day. I explored different styles. I practiced at home. I found ways to keep yoga in my daily life.
And then I transformed my life.
The journey to loving yoga, to making yoga daily part of my life, to allowing yoga to transform my life, did not come overnight. It was gradual process that still continues to this day.
There were yoga “breakthroughs” along the way. The day I cried in yoga class after deep back-bends. Learning to slow down and when to speed up. Getting out of my head. Meditation. Realizing that yoga could actually help my scoliosis and improve my overall ability to live and perform daily tasks. Mindfulness transformed my eating. I cried, I breathed through anger, I felt uncomfortable–a lot. And guess what? Sometimes I *still* feel super awkward in yoga. Or I cry. Or I suddenly find myself laughing hysterically. And that is okay.
I love yoga, not because it has transformed my physical body (which it has), but by transforming my physical body, I have been able to dig deeper, let go of past hurt, let in the present moment, and open myself up to living my most authentic and awesome life. And as a yoga teacher, I can help transform other peoples’ lives for the better. That’s a beautiful gift.
You don’t need to be an Advanced Yogi to help yoga change your life. Here are 3 simple things you can take from yoga and carry with you EVERY SINGLE DAY:
Never stop breathing. Don’t hold your breath. Inhale and exhale. Even if breathing is hard to do. Keep breathing. When we hold our breath, it is usually because we are experiencing difficult sensations. But keep breathing anyway. A new sensation will come to take its place and you will feel something new, different, and exciting.
If you feel like you can’t breathe or have a lot of stuck tension, take a deep inhale through the nose and exhale “ahhhhhhhh” really sigh it out the mouth. Sometimes, I like to do that with noise. (Maybe not the best to try the first time in public, though!) Deep inhale through the nose and exhale “GHADNRBDAHHHHH” out the mouth.
Guess what? This breath is yoga! Do it daily.
2) Stay Present
Soften the space between the eyebrows. I know that sounds silly, but sometimes we need a reminder to stop worry and find the present. Right now, take your hand (the one that isn’t controlling the screen) and place the index and middle fingers together on the space between your eyebrows. Gently guide press that space down towards your nose. Let go of worry, tension. Let go the past. Let go the future. Take a breath. Connect to the now.
It’s so easy to check out. To worry about the future. To think about the past and the shoulda woulda coulda’s. But that is not the way to live life. Yes, there is a time and place for planning. But the majority of life happens in the present moment. And when we plan? We only need to plan to better allow us to enjoy the present moment. Let go of everything else. Listen when someone talks. Be there. Be fully there. Every moment of every day. The magic happens in the present. Enjoy it!
3) Take Care of Your Body
You don’t need 90 minutes to do yoga. If you only have five minutes, five minutes can be the perfect amount. Stand up and stretch at your desk. Remember to stretch after your run. Or, if you are really short on time, do what I do…. My favorite pose when I only have 5 minutes is Viparita Karani–Legs Up the Wall Pose.
Scoot your butt over to the wall. Roll to your side and then, ever so gracefully (or not! as is usually the case–ha) SWING your legs up the wall. Make sure you scoot your but all the way to the edge of the wall. Your legs will be straight up the wall so you are at a 90 degree angle with feet up wall and torso on ground. Flex your feet, so that your toenails face down towards your face. Let the arms spread wide with palms up. Close your eyes from top to bottom. Relax. Stay here for anywhere from 1 minute (if that’s all you got) to 15 minutes. For added comfort, you can add a blanket under your neck to release the neck, support your pelvis with a bolster (see below picture of props), and strap your thighs together to minimize your effort.
This is a great pose to do right before bed or any time you feel like your brain is “whirling” and you need to get grounded, focused, and back to the present.
Connect with Lora:
Yoga Website: http://www.lorahogan.com
- Has yoga changed your life?
- What ways do you incorporate yoga, or another fitness routine, on a daily basis?