It’s January of a new year, and the fitness resolutions abound. Most involve trying harder, going to the gym more often, walking more (10,000 steps?), pushing through the pain to achieve results. Frankly, these are likely going to fail before Spring. Why? Because we insist that more, harder, and faster are what we need to be healthier and happier. What if we dispensed with this myth?
What if, instead of trying harder, we tried easier? What if we only committed to 20 minutes a day of an easy, at-home regimen of being kind to ourselves? What if we substituted quiet breath for the protein shakes? What would become of us?
Study after study shows that mindfulness, meditation, and yoga do as much for our well-being as an hour a day at the gym. After a month at the gym, you may see some physical results, but there will be days you don’t go, when you simply find you have too many urgent things that need to be done, or just don’t have the willpower to pack your bag, get the kids into the car, or spend that much time at the end of the day when you’re already tired. If your wellness routine were done at home, in a mere 20 minutes of stretching, strength- and balance-building, and intentional breathing exercises, you could see and feel results almost immediately.
Physical exercise contributes to restful sleep, no doubt. But when the mind is not at ease, sleep will be difficult, restless, and unfulfilling, regardless of how many miles you ran on the treadmill. The combination of yoga and meditation is a powerful antidote for anxiety, physical weakness, even insomnia and digestive disorders. So why don’t more people opt for this fitness approach?
Unfortunately, as with anything that morphs in the culture in which it is expressed, yoga has become stereotyped into a practice dominated by young, fit females. Why would a middle-aged, overweight person, male or female, want to cram into yoga pants (required, right?) and fall all over their yoga mat in a class full of slender, graceful yogis? Yet yoga was never meant to be reserved for a certain group of people. It is and always will be something for everyone, because everyone needs peace, health, and a mind at rest.
So for you, the person considering a yoga practice, put thoughts of more, harder, faster, and especially yoga pants out of your mind. Think of yourself as someone deserving a healthy body and mind through the gentle, mindful practice of yoga.