5 Ways Yoga Has Changed My Life

Last year I arrived in Panama depleted, stressed and with an intense yearning to soul-search. I carried a long list of things I wished to achieve and overcome. I wanted to enhance my life mentally, physically and emotionally. I decided to try yoga. Within days of my arrival, I began an at home practice on my upstairs balcony overlooking the ocean. Since then, I have been led on an incredible journey and have learned these invaluable lessons:

1. New Beginnings

Every day is an opportunity for a new beginning. By listening to what my body needs, I can tailor my practice accordingly. Some days my balance is off or certain poses are more difficult than they were the day before. I’ve learned to accept what is happening today and know I can start again tomorrow.

2. The Value of Being Quiet and Still

Coming from a large metropolitan city and all the hustle and bustle that comes along with it, peace and quiet was certainly not part of my repertoire. In addition, having an overactive mind and difficulty focusing certainly didn’t help. Yoga has taught me to be quiet and still, moving fluidly, connecting with my breath and in turn clearing my mind. I invite that stillness to accompany me throughout the day, and in moments of stress and chaos, return to it.

3. True Self Connection

Shavasana (corpse pose) has become such a cherished moment for me. After the exertions of the practice, my body is allowed to reset and regroup, yet it is much more than relaxation. In those moments, I have connected with my soul in a way I never have before. My awareness is turned inward and I have made astonishing discoveries of my inner self.

4. Overcoming Fear and Anxiety

Within just a few weeks of incorporating yoga into my schedule, I felt better…lighter. A shade was definitely lifting. The anxiety and fear I have always carried around began to lessen and my mind seemed clearer. Challenging poses have taught me I’m stronger than I give myself credit for and if I can overcome fear, reward lies ahead. I might try an advanced pose and fall down, yet…I always get back up and eventually I succeed.

5. Learning to Let Go

I have held onto many negative thoughts and emotions for quite some time. I reached a point in my life where I realized it was time to release and let go. When you hold a pose in yoga, your body wishes to tighten. Learning to breathe through and release the tension ultimately allows you to let go. Applying that same practice, I have been able to work through negative emotions, allowing myself to feel through them as they present themselves and ultimately let them go.

Thanks to yoga, I’ve gained an inner strength that has propelled me forward into a new world…a new light. Through movement, intention and energy, my mat has allowed me to explore myself in ways I never thought possible and provided me with a peace that used to seem so unattainable. Namasté

Beth McGuyton, bethmcguyton@gmail.com

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