My first yoga class was about fifteen years ago. It was in a NYC studio and I followed the instructor’s every move. Post class for two weeks I swore I would never teach this class that left me in pain and hobbled walking let alone take a yoga class again.
Less than a year later, I undertook the certification to become a yoga instructor and realized that yoga “the union” isn’t about following movement but being present in each pose. I realized that each posture throughout a practice needs to be felt, embodied and saturated to receive its full benefits.
There’s a moment when you are holding a pose during a class that you feel your body tremble, start to shake and your mind determines whether you fall or endure. This practice of the mind connecting and directing the body is more than just exercise. It’s the discipline that can be carried into other aspects of your life.
One cannot make changes without the power of thought. Yoga allows you to practice this power and utilize into your daily challenges. My other love of yoga comes from the benefits of increased strength and flexibility.
Moving the body through circles, sways and fixed positions the way that it does, pushes the body into muscle contractions that develop new patterns of strength. These moves begin to balance out overuse injuries and allow the body to move with grace and more easily.
As “Om” means all and “shanti” means peace, my yoga practice is the “Om shanti” of my life.
Andrea Metcalf is an NBC Chicago Fitness Coach and author of Naked Fitness.