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Escaping The War in My Mind

If you were to look back, you’d notice that I announced my intention to try yoga in August and posted about my first experience in September.

Since then I’ve been delinquent about sharing my yoga experiences because, until recently, I haven’t had any. For months I justified missing classes for various reasons. If you’ve ever tried to initiate a new fitness habit, you’ll probably recognize some of them.

- I’m too tired

- I don’t have time

- The class times don’t fit my schedule

- My cat is snuggling me and I don’t feel like getting up

I kept lifting weights about 3 times per week for the whole time, but introducing a new practice into my fitness routine proved to be more difficult than I expected.

Eventually it dawned on me that I should use the same general approach for yoga that I use for my weight training. Instead of looking at my schedule on any given week and trying to see where yoga could fit, I selected a class ahead of time and began to build my schedule around it.

Although I’m sure I haven’t had perfect attendance, I’ve been doing yoga relatively consistently now for the last two or three months and I’m so glad I made it a priority.

Contrary to what I expected, yoga has had a much bigger effect on my mental health than on my physical health. I’m not sure I’ve fully grasped the meaning of mindfulness as an experienced yogi might describe it but, for me, yoga allows me to be completely present in the moment when I’m practicing.

Recently, for example, I came into class with a heavy burden on my mind. Specifically, the war in Ukraine had just started and my heart was breaking for the people who were losing their homes and their lives. I couldn’t seem to stop thinking about the devastation that was happening and the feeling of being completely helpless to do anything about it.

When I first laid on my mat that day, my mind was swirling and I couldn’t find any semblance of peace. The weight of the images I’d seen made my chest feel tight and my body feel heavy. But, as the session went on, we began doing all sorts of poses under the guidance of our teacher. Some were easy. Some were a little more challenging. But each of them required me to focus on the position of the various parts of my body and my breathing.

After about 20 minutes it suddenly struck me that I hadn’t thought about anything except moving my body. Each movement had required me to be so present and mindful about what I was doing that I couldn’t think about anything else. In practicing yoga, I’d found a little reprieve from the chaos that had overtaken my mind just a few minutes earlier. For those few minutes on my mat, my mind felt free and my body felt light.

I have to admit that, while I expected the greatest benefit of yoga to be a physical one, this experience showed me that maybe the “mindfulness” people talked about wasn’t all strange and “out there” as I’d initially thought.

When I started yoga, I was honestly hoping to just get a good stretch. As it turns out, there’s a lot more to it than that and this has turned out to be the reason I return week after week.

I’ll plan to keep practicing and I will try to be a bit more diligent about sharing my experiences now that I’ve become more consistent.

But if you’re on the fence about trying yoga and also feel like you’re sometimes carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders (or in your mind), I would encourage you to give it a shot.

The only disappointment I have had during my experience with yoga is that I didn’t start sooner.

Please Donate to Support Ukraine Here

Mark Young, BKin, is Head Personal Trainer at Heron Creek Yoga & Fitness, a locally-owned health facility located in the Ancaster Rotary Centre at 385 Jerseyville Rd W. Contact us for top quality professional care at our 10,000 sq ft facility which has plenty of equipment, a dedicated Yoga studio, and much more.


phone 905-648-4571

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