I have been practicing Yoga on and off since I was 12 years old. The practice comes to me when I am in periods of transition and growth. It helps me to align my mind, body, and breath in a way that reduces my anxiety and connects me to my higher self.
The Power of 5 Sun Salutations
During one particular time of growth, I was feeling very challenged. There were great things happening in my life but I had gained more weight than I liked and let go of many of the self care habits that I had cultivated previously. It was difficult to balance the many changes in my life while celebrating the milestones. My anxiety was high, I felt depleted, and was not sure how I was going to sustain myself emotionally long term.
There had to be a change in my life. I just had to start somewhere. And so I began by doing five sun salutations a day (with each movement you take a breath in and then for the next movement breath out). This exercise took me less than 10 minutes every morning, yet the results I felt in my body and mind were ten-fold. My mind was calmer, my anxiety was reduced, and I felt the muscle tone coming back in my arms and legs. As the days turned into weeks I became stronger and added additional yoga stretches to my morning practice and as the weeks turned into months I was taking a weekly yoga class, going for long walks, and even started swimming again. Almost a year to the day that I started my five sun salutations a day, I have an almost daily yoga practice and have enrolled in a yoga teacher training. My anxiety is gone, my mind is clear, and I better able to balance the parts of my life that had seen at odds before.
What parts of yourself are you connecting?
Yoga means “union” or “connection” in Sanskrit. When I practice yoga I am connecting the two parts of myself – the go-getter creative entrepreneur and the homebody social worker. I hustle to be able to live the life I want but I also need regular quiet time to write, read, and reflect. Yoga allows me to work out my stress while reconnecting with the true essence of myself. Understanding your own motivation for practicing, understanding the different parts of yourself you are trying to connect, will help to keep you focused and dedicated. Not only to your yoga practice but also to your own well being.
How To Start
If you want to do Five Sun Salutations a day but have never done yoga before it is best to consult guidance from a yoga teacher. Most yoga studios have a beginner price that lets you try unlimited classes for two weeks or so. If yoga is not in your budget, ask the studio if you can volunteer to help out in the studio a few hours a week in exchange for a free class. Let the teacher know you are a beginner and also know that you do not need to do every yoga pose that the teacher will cue in class.
If you’re not ready for a physical yoga practice that’s ok! You can still get the same benefits by just sitting and breathing. Every morning set a timer for three minutes, sit quietly, close your eyes, and begin to focus on your breath. Here are some breathing examples you can try. Another great way to start practicing yoga is by reading the Yamas and the Niyamas, which are two of the eight limbs of yoga and provide ethical guidelines to strengthen your own connection to your higher self, power, and emotions.
Every body is different and what works for me may not work for you. That said, if you are struggling with anxiety and not sure how to balance the many things going on in your life practicing Five Sun Salutations a day, or some breathing exercises, will help you to connect your mind and your body, leading you to feel more grounded and clear of mind. When starting anything new make sure that you do speak to a professional and always prioritize what you need to be happy.