5 Benefits of Practicing Yoga

 

Photo by Amy Rollo

September is National Yoga Month! My first encounter with yoga was in college. I was aware of it beforehand, but it was one of those things where I didn’t know I needed it until I tried it. I often shied away from trying yoga because I would see photos of crazy poses on social media, and thought, “Oh geez, I’m not that flexible, I’m going to look pathetic trying to do that.” But that was my initial misconception: yoga (or any sport, if you think about it) should not be about what other people think–it is a practice based on self-awareness and moving meditation. 

  1. Helps you focus: Not only does yoga encourage zen and overall calmness, but it is a practice that invites you to reach a point of oneness and reminds you to stay present in the moment. As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression on a daily basis, yoga has reminded me time-and-time again to remain focused on the present. It’s no secret that life can get stressful and hectic–we often think about the next task at hand or what the next day will bring, but yoga has helped me find my breath and release all the clutter in my mind.

    Artwork by Paintspiration
  2.  Builds flexibility and balance: After I tore my ACL a year-and-a-half ago, I struggled finding an activity / workout routine that made me feel comfortable with this physical setback. Because I never got it repaired, I was too scared to plant on my right leg or move laterally while playing tennis, and additionally, my knee just felt tight. I also lost a sense of balance while standing on my right leg for something as simple as a quad stretch. I decided to make yoga a part of my daily routine while recovering from this injury, and along with going to physical therapy, it helped me regain strength and flexibility in my right leg and find that balance again.

    Artwork by Paintspiration
  3. Improves posture: This can actually go hand-in-hand with number two, but as someone who spends hours on end at the computer writing, slouching has been a separate issue I’ve been trying to improve. Yoga helps realign and lengthen the spine, so not only will it look better than slouching, but it will feel better, too!

    Artwork by Pablo Romero
  4. Improves mood: After taking a yoga class in college, I pushed myself to keep going and find a yoga studio near me because I love how it made me feel–after each class, it was as if I had a newfound burst of positive energy. While some days are tougher than others to buckle down and get out of bed, I never “regret” going to a yoga class; in fact, I always think about how I would have regretted not going. I find that the days I do just 10-15 minutes of yoga poses, I’m more at ease and just happier.

    Artwork by Grace Popp, art.com


  5. Weight loss and toning: Another misconception of yoga is that it’s “too slow” or won’t make you sweat as much compared to strength training at the gym. Well, I’m here to debunk this misconception because when I first started yoga, there were poses we would hold for what felt like an eternity, where I would just tire out. Of course, the more you go, the more you get used to it, but there were days after a yoga class where my arms were too sore to lift, or I couldn’t even walk. The great thing about yoga is that it centers on bodyweight, so while you’re in certain positions for a certain amount of time, you’re unknowingly losing weight and toning muscles you didn’t even know you had!

For those looking for a new hobby, or seeking to step out of a comfort zone, yoga is the perfect place to start. It will push you in ways that challenges the mind and body, all while promoting healthy ways to manage mental health. Even if you need to start off slow and try YouTube yoga videos to nudge you in the right direction, just practicing 10 minutes a day can help you. Now, let me clarify, while yoga has many benefits when it comes to the mind and body, it varies for everyone, so if you’d like to share the ways yoga has helped you, please feel free to add them to the comments below!

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A Writer’s Biggest Lesson to Learn

I remember when I initially contemplated going down the English / Creative Writing major route..like any newbie, I relied on comparison to almost forge my path. Taking Creative Writing or Poetry workshops, English Lit classes, and peer reviewing classmates’ essays were always anxiety-inducing for me because I constantly found myself in a comparison bubble. On days where my stories or poems would get critiqued along with other classmates, I would think, “Wow, I wish I could be this poetic with my words,” or “Damn, my story is shit compared to everyone else’s.  While most writers think comparison can invite improvement, it actually plays a role in hindering any progress as a writer; that is, if you allow it.

There’s nothing wrong at all with browsing through fellow writers’ work and feeling inspired or motivated by what they’ve written. But once it passes the point of inspiration and in to the realm of obsession, this is where you start to fail yourself as a writer. To be completey honest, not comparing my material to others is still a lesson I’m learning, but I am proud to say that I am in a much better place than I used to be. I’m sure you’ve heard this saying before, but each person really does have their own, unique voice. We have experienced life differently and have our own perspectives on how situations should/could be handled. No one can tell your story better than you, so take risks and tell it!

The Extra Rest Day(s)

You know when you’ve had a good day at the gym: it’s a good kind of sweat, your arms or legs feel like jelly, or you just feel like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

Personally, I try to exercise for at least half an hour, five or six days a week to help me manage symptoms of anxiety or depression. While working out can often be a positive outlet for my mental health, there are days when I find it doesn’t help me the way I need it to. I recently came to the realization that I became too strict on exercising and would guilt trip myself if I missed a workout. Even worse, I skipped meals to “make up” for not working out. Sometimes, the weight loss / muscle gain journey can mess with the mind to the point where you actually hinder progress. Things like over-exercising or skipping meals can delay body changes one hopes to see, as well as create unhealthy habits. I didn’t even realize this until I found myself completely unenergized for a workout: I was just going through the motions and wasn’t feeling fulfilled after a workout like I usually do. It was slowly becoming a process of quantity over quality.

Finding the energy or time to exercise daily can be a tough task; especially for full-time workers, parents, or students, so HUGE props to those who find time to exercise with such a busy schedule. I always hear people say, “I hate going to the gym, but I go anyway,” or “I had to force myself to work out today.” Sure, there will be days when you don’t feel like working out, and while it can be okay to give yourself a little nudge to exercise for even ten minutes, you should never have to “force” yourself to go. Doing so will give exercise a negative connotation, rather than one of enjoyment or for the sake of well-being. Know that it is perfectly okay to take extra rest days when you need it. Always listen to your mind and body!

My Thoughts on The Bachelor Finale

**MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**

I miss the days when I would ask, “Why does everyone like this show so much?” I felt like I was the only one in my group of friends that didn’t watch The Bachelor or The Bachelorette series, but when I actually sat down and endured an episode, I finally understood the appeal. Maybe it is the cringeworthy pick-up lines and challenges, or the unnecessary drama, but once you watch a few episodes, it’s difficult to turn your head away. Granted, I only started watching during Chris Soules’ season, so compared to others, I am still fairly ‘new’ to this “Bachelor nation” thing. Now that I’m five seasons deep, I am here to admit that this mess of a reality show really is my guilty pleasure.

I really liked Colton during Becca’s season of The Bachelorette–he was cute and he seemed genuine. I was confused as to why he participated in Paradise because he had made it known that “he dated for purpose” and that series just doesn’t seem like it supports that kind of mindset. When he was announced as the next bachelor, I was one of the few who supported this decision. I’ll also be the first to admit that producers made his virginity as the main selling point to this season. As his season progressed, it was difficult to get through an episode without his virginity being mentioned, and honestly, I was just anticipating the fence jump that was also promoted in the season’s previews. While I wasn’t disappointed in the drama throughout the season, I can’t help but think that this season was kind of a waste of time given the ending, so here are some of my reactions on last night’s finale through gifs. If you haven’t watched it yet, SPOILERS AHEAD.

  1. “Will he find love with Cassie or will he remain a virgin forever?” as if we hadn’t heard enough about his virginity throughout the season.
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  2. Colton: “I just want someone to love me back!”
    Also Colton: *breaks up with the two women who said they love him and chases after the one that has doubts*
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  3. Colton: “I jumped a fence and broke up with Tayshia and Hannah for you.”
    Cassie: “I see how much Colton loves me and I’m accepting it.”
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  4. Colton: “Will you come with me to Spain to meet my family?”
    Cassie:
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  5. Cassie: “…this week started off–
    Colton’s mom: “…with you running away…”
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  6. *After one night in the fantasy suite*
    Colton: “Cassie and I are finally on the same page. I’m so excited.”
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  7. Why is Cassie showing Colton a video recording of her saying how much she loves him when she’s sitting right next to him?
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  8. Ladies and gentlemen, an amazing surprise for you! AIR SUPPLY!
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  9. Hannah B. is your next Bachelorette!
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  10. Me knowing I’m not a fan of the choice, but getting ready to watch The Bachelorette next season:
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Well, there you have it. I will say I was a fan of Cassie at the beginning, but toward the end of the season, she didn’t seem as invested in the relationship as Colton. It seemed like he was forcing her to be in a relationship that she clearly wasn’t ready for. What else do you tell a guy that basically says, “I gave up everything for you…”? Hopefully I’m proven wrong, but it just looks like she was looking for her 15 minutes of fame and Colton ended up picking her. If you watched the finale, what were / are your thoughts?

The Good Ol’ Daze

For most, one of the biggest habits is dwelling on the past. I wouldn’t necessarily say it is a bad thing to do because let’s face it; the way we grow spiritually, mentally, or physically, is by learning from mistakes. Thanks to past situations, I know now the kinds of people I want to surround myself with, or the kind of work I enjoy. This being said, becoming fixated on the past has its share of cons. Too often these days, I even find myself scrolling through social media platforms and coming across past acquaintances or lovers wondering, “What if?” Personally speaking, I can definitely see how asking this question can poison the mind. Ultimately, it leads one into asking a chain of unnecessary questions and coming to assumptions of what life would / could be like right now. Example: What if I was still dating so-and-so? Would we still be together? Does he even think about me anymore? I would definitely be less lonely if he was still in my life. Or, speaking in terms of friendships: What if my best friend didn’t move away after college? Would we still be best friends? Would we still hangout? Does he/she even miss hanging out with me anymore? Life would be so much more fun with him/her around….But would it?

The main problem with this mindset is that some of us may start to have trouble accepting the way things are now. We will try to over-analyze, maybe even “fix” the past when we know it can’t happen. It may even get to the point where we allow our past to haunt us to the point where we convince ourselves that what we had was way better than what we have in our present. When this happens, the defense mechanism is to settle with familiarity. For some, that might mean running back to an old flame because you still believe in your heart that you two are destined to be together. For others, it could mean settling for a job that you might not even be 100% satisfied with because you made good money…or maybe you were just good at that specific job. Essentially, this becomes a path to unhappiness or closing yourself off to new experiences, and you start to train your mind to run away from the unfamiliar.

From child to adulthood, we are meant to evolve. To become wiser. To adapt to changes. But this cannot happen by dwelling. Sure, it is good to look at certain memories and be proud of what was accomplished, but don’t allow the past to consume your appreciation of present opportunities. Accept what is, and use every experience and encounter to better yourself.

Writers Supporting Writers

Hi all! I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season so far. Sorry about this mini hiatus, but I’ve had family visiting, so it’s been tough finding time to keep up with my blog. I’ve had moments of downtime to jot ideas in my notebook and read other posts, but I did want to keep you guys updated on a little something I’ve been working on…it’s nothing major, but I recently converted my photography Instagram profile in to a writing profile.

This was kind of a difficult decision for me because I grew a fairly nice following of different photographers through this page, and since I changed it, I’ve noticed a drop in those followers. It’s no secret that social media is the best way to connect with other people who share the same interests as you…and I figured that since I’m writing more than photographing these days, this would bring me out of my comfort zone and expand my audience. Although I do have a “personal” Instagram profile, I would like to separate my personal life from my writing life (if that makes any sense). In my mind, friends or family who follow my personal profile wouldn’t want to just see all writing from me, so I have two separate accounts…Think of it as an “extension” of my blog; I will be posting excerpts from poems or stories, inspiring quotes, or new material that I might not always be able to post on WordPress.

With all this being said, I’d love a follow on my new page for writing connections, and in turn, I’d love to follow you guys on my writing account! The WordPress community I’ve grown to know has always been super supportive, so I’d like for that to carry on through different social media platforms. Us writers gotta stick together! If you’d like to plug in social media outlets for us to follow, feel free to pingback this post and let’s get a little follower train going!

EST. At 3 A.M. Instagram

Love These Days…

can be a fumble. Right when you think you’ve got a grasp on what you think love is, it seems to slip through your fingers. We realize it with every loss or every heartbreak. Truth is, love can be seen in various ways: through acts and deeds of kindness, in words, or in activities we are passionate about. It is often rushed because we expect someone to love us when we fail to first love ourselves.

But when found at the right time, with the right person, it can be magical. Finding someone who sees you as a masterpiece when you feel short of one, is an indescribable feeling. Someone who loves you despite your flaws or faults. Someone who chooses to see the sides of you that you don’t allow anyone else to see. Someone who will place you as the bright cynosure of their darkest days. That is the type of love we long for in this world. It is the type of love worth waiting for.

The Meaning Behind My Tattoo

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“Don’t lose you who you are in the blur of the stars.”
-Jessie J, “Who You Are”

When people first read my tattoo, I see a clear expression of confusion. I always simply reply, “They’re song lyrics.” Not only do meaningful lyrics serve as positive mantras, but they can ultimately save you from yourself. Forgive this cliche, but it’s true–you are your biggest critic. Sometimes, your mind has a funny way of telling you that what you are doing isn’t good enough…that you aren’t good enough. When this happens, you start listening to the commands of voices around you; those that tell you how you should live your life in order to become successful. Those that confirm your own self-doubts. These words are more than just lyrics to me. They are a permanent reminder to remain true to my morals in times of fear, self-doubt, or uncertainty. Life is one giant, uncertain ride and sometimes, the road to achieving your dreams can seem blurry. We may start to feel the pressure of life creeping up on us that we often lose sight of who we are. It can be easy to see what others are creating and just follow suit in order to gain the recognition we desperately seek…but we all have a specific purpose here, which is why we are individually unique and have our own strengths and weaknesses. Will you sacrifice your soul to satisfy the voices around you? Or maybe to take a shortcut to achieve your own dreams? Or will you strive for authenticity to be the person God intended you to be?

Sportsmanship

Being a tennis coach is tough sometimes. As much as I love meeting new students and playing a small role in their development as a player, some parents make it difficult for their kid(s) to enjoy the sport. One day on the court, I overheard a parent playing tennis with their kid, and the parent would make the kid run every time they mishit. Eventually, I heard the parent say, “You’ll never win if you play like this.” It’s like it becomes more about winning / bragging than actually playing for the enjoyment. The kid looked upset, and after a while, it just seemed like they didn’t even want to be on the court anymore.

I completely get it…when my dad used to coach me, yelling at me to move or hit the ball properly sometimes motivated me to play better, but it also sometimes made me hate playing because I wasn’t playing to his standards. At the end of the day, we are trying to get the kids to enjoy the sport. Sure, winning is fun, and I love seeing the competitive nature of my students, but it gets difficult when they start throwing tantrums if they don’t win a certain game. Like any sport, frustration is bound to happen, but I feel it is important to stress good sportsmanship when they begin playing a sport….for example, letting the kids know that it is okay to mess up because we all have our days where our timing is off, our footwork isn’t the best, or maybe just an overall bad day. Once we start overly-stressing the importance of winning, is the moment everything becomes more about winning instead of doing it for the love of the game.