Too often we get so wrapped up in our busy lives that
we forget to take the time to relax and release our
stress and tension. Many people, when asked what they
do for relaxation, say they watch television, play video
games, or read the newspaper. They believe that since
these activities are not work related, it is real relaxation.
But what they do not realize is that they are simply
substituting one form of business with another. The
idea that one must take time every day to relax and
to exercise is considered outrageous, because few people
think they can find enough time to do both. Some people
are able to schedule time for exercise, but they still
forget about relaxation time. In our busy lives, what
can we do?
Hatha yoga, or physical yoga, is a form of exercise
that combines all the important aspects of a complete
exercise program: stretching and toning, increasing
the heart rate, and deep relaxation. Every day I go
to yoga class, feeling stressed about work, relationships,
and upcoming events, and every day I leave class feeling
completely relaxed and at peace with myself. My yoga
instructor guides me through a series of postures designed
to awaken my body and mind, alternately raising, then
lowering my heart rate. Each asana, or posture, requires
complete concentration throughout its duration, and
then is followed by a rewarding deep relaxation posture.
My mind is on nothing other than the present, moving
into and out of each pose, being mindful of my breath.
It is a beautiful sight when I open my eyes and observe
that everyone around me is totally "in the moment."
After every class I feel such self-confidence, because
I could reach just a little bit farther, breathe just
a little bit easier, or balance just a little bit longer.
It is so different from any other exercise program I
have done, because rather than beating my body into
shape, I am urging it gently to do more than it could
the day before.
I tend to worry and carry around a lot of extra tension.
Sleepless nights and groggy days used to be my daily
routine. Yoga has given me sleep-filled nights and tension-free
days. It is amazing how much one and a half hours a
day can change one's life. Even better, a vegetarian
diet is recommended to support a yoga student's progress.
The yoga student quickly learns that yoga is more a
way of life than strictly an exercise program. Regularly
emphasized by most yogis is the idea of "ahimsa," or
non-harming. Yoga (meaning union) is a way to physically,
mentally, and spiritually carry out one's vegan ideals.
e x t e s s a y -
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