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How Yoga Helped Me Find My Joy

We hear about those amazing life-changing yoga stories; the ones that counter doctors’ opinions and battle what was deemed impossible. But for many, their first encounter with yoga is often a little more awkward. Usually, they spend more time looking around the room than paying attention to their own body and practice. But the awkward first couple of classes are part of the journey. You cannot learn without trying and doing.

My yoga story is nothing extraordinary. I first stepped into a yoga class in college, during an unhealthy time of fast food, alcohol, and way too much coffee. Back in 2009, I was unfortunately, not yet ready to appreciate all that yoga could do for my life. It was not until three years later that I rediscovered the power of yoga from a friend who reintroduced me to the practice.

I had changed my diet, saw some major changes in my body, and noticed how energized I felt. So incorporating yoga into my life was just the next step - a way to bring movement to my newfound healthy lifestyle. My first experience with a dedicated yoga practice was from an online 30-day challenge. From that point on, I was hooked on the yoga high and my practice was in full swing.

My journey with yoga has opened me up to new paths over the years. This included being able to find my second passion, Acro-Yoga, an acrobatic yoga practice that employs body awareness, communication, and strength. I realized that I wanted to teach these practices to others to give them the opportunity to change their lives the way they had helped me change mine.

I came to learn that yoga was not just about the physical practice, but the mental state of mind that comes from it as well. Along with learning how to balance on one foot and on my hands, there were other nuggets of wisdom I discovered along the way, that I may not have learned had I not let yoga into my life.

It all starts with breathing.
Just as life without breathing is not life, yoga without breathing is not yoga. Asana is all about learning to move your body in sync with the breath. At first it feels strange and unnatural, since we mostly breathe involuntarily and do not pay attention on how to control our breathing. But with time and practice, I have learned how much the breath can deepen my practice, both physically and mentally.

Patience is everything.
I always blamed genetics for my high temper and low patience, until I realized that I had complete control over my own behavior and reactions. Yoga helped me find and harness patience in a physical way while learning how to manage frustration. Over time, I learned that I could take the patience I harnessed on the mat and apply it to my life off of the mat.

The goal is not perfection.
We all see those picture-perfect Instagram photos, and I’ll admit that I’m even guilty of trying to get a photo or pose just right. But in the end, the whole purpose is not the photo or the likes. The goal is not perfection, but imperfection. If I have learned anything about perfection, it is that it is never attainable. Expecting perfection only leads to disappointment. I have instead realized that the best thing you can do is to embrace the failures and learn from them. Life gives you lessons so you can make life lemonade, after all.

Focus on awareness.
What does an eyelid, an arm, a toe, and the breath all have in common? Awareness. Yoga has taught me to focus on things that I would never have given a second thought to, much less even a first thought. Just as you train your body for physical endeavors, you must also train the mind on building awareness and focus. It is arguably more difficult than training the body but fortunately for me, yoga has allowed my mind to strengthen in ways I never would have thought possible.

It is all about joy.
Perhaps the best thing I learned on my yoga journey has been joy. Joy is always the end goal, in some form or another. Yoga allows you the space to truly get to know yourself - the most raw and uncut version. On the mat, we are forced to face the crap that we have spent so much time and energy avoiding. As humans, we dislike flaws and imperfections. But for me, yoga has given me the safe space to realize my flaws and how to work on them. Joy is the finished product of all these ingredients mixed together. With breath, patience, humility, and awareness, the body and mind opens up to a whole new world of joy. For me, this is the goal of yoga.

Ready to change your life and commit to YOU? Join us at Joy Yoga Center this new year and begin your journey on the path to joy.

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