Physical Transformation with Yoga – Part 1

The reason I took up yoga practice was because I needed a physical workout and a break from my routine. The results however turn out to be much more far reaching than I would ever expect or imagine.
When I first commit to yoga practice, I noticed my physical transformation. I lost weight and saw my strength and flexibility increase. I was not born flexible and had never passed my sit and reach in my school days. Now my chin can touch my shinbone in my forward bend! I am amazed by how regular practice of the asanas can change the body.
Just like many yoga beginners, I started the practice with the gentle and therapeutic classes. I did not quite enjoy yoga then until I had my first vinyasa flow. The cardiovascular workout that entailed strength and stretching was definitely a challenge for me who was stiff and weak. I was shattered at the end of the practice but strangely, I felt calm in my heart and quiet in my mind that I had never experienced before. I knew I had found a form of exercise that I enjoyed.
In my subsequent practice, the more I endure and persevere in the poses, the stronger I become. The strength that is built up, in my opinion, is not only in my physical body, but also in my will and determination. Willpower is one of the greatest human strengths. Our mind, in which our will and determination reside, to a certain extent, controls what our body can do.
Building strength and stamina in the yoga practice is not only about getting fit physically, it is about developing strength and steadiness of the mind. Yoga is a conscious effort to train the mind to be fully present by controlling the body, breath and mind in one harmonious moment. A lot of people equate yoga to exercise (like I used to), which is a misconception. Yoga is a body awareness technique aimed at liberating our consciousness from old, habitual ways of thinking, being and acting.
Personally, I prefer vinyasa flow, though I am not very strong and flexible and there are still a lot for me to work on. Whenever I do a vinyasa flow, I feel the poses (whether or not I am in the perfect alignment) seep in and work their magic. I cannot agree more to the saying that yoga is 1% theory and 99% practice. It is impossible to truly understand what yoga is or experience the benefits of yoga without practising it.
Yoga is a way of life, and is a part of my life now and will always be. With all the benefits from yoga, I will do it for as long as I am physically able to.
Joan Tan

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