How Yoga Helped Me Achieve My Goals

Prior to a few months ago, I never would have thought that an activity like yoga could help me to make important life changes. Yet just a few months ago, I began turning to yoga for not just a workout, – but as a way to minimize one of the more stressful times during my doctorate degree (preparing for my comprehensive exams!).

 

 

 

While yoga was in no way new to me, I suddenly felt that I was ready for a regular yoga routine, which turned out to be about three yoga sessions per week. In fact, this new routine was not difficult to commit to because after just a few yoga sessions I began to crave my yoga practice. I began to experience several benefits right away. First, I noticed that my internal reactions to stress, while quite normal in intensity, diminished vastly. It was like a loosening of a grip, or a process of being able to let go of any worries, trepidations, or over-attachments to my thoughts. It was not that I suddenly took my work less seriously, but I just lost the hasty reaction of allowing my mind to dig deeper into any negative thoughts.

 

 

A second basic benefit was that yoga presented me with a tangible time and place to go to when I was feeling crabby about my work or when I felt that sense of numbing boredom that would sometimes arise from working too much, on too many things. Doing a yoga practice allowed me to turn inward, a process that for me, doesn’t happen in any of my other vigorous workouts. If this turning inward process does occur, it is to a much smaller extent. Rather than being focused on my external world, regular yoga enabled me to withdraw, detach, and to focus on a calming place within that brought me a sense of equanimity. Some people had suggested to me that my “benefits” were due to exercise I was already doing at the time. However, I have spent a lifetime being a gym junkie, regular jogger and swimmer. I was already reaping the benefits of good str ess management from doing regular workouts of jogging, biking, and fitness classes 4-5 times a week. My new yoga routine however, presented me with an entirely new set of psychological benefits in addition to my regular fitness routines.

 

 

A third way yoga has been helpful to me is that it enabled me to become more intentional. My lifelong intention has always been to exercise first thing in the morning. Prior to my regular yoga practices, for the past several years, I’d intend on doing morning or early morning workouts, but either felt guilty for putting them before my work, or I would simply not have the motivation or energy upon waking to get up and exercise, first thing. Thus, I would usually exercise late afternoon or evening. The strange thing about the yoga was that suddenly, I was able to rise in the mornings, and somehow have the energy, or intentionality to follow through with exercising before my workday. While this might sound like a minor or trivial issue, it was a very pleasant surprise and addition to my lifestyle.  

 

 

A fourth benefit I experienced was a delightful shock. For many years I would talk about my desire to quit my addiction to coffee. I love coffee! However, I noticed over the years, tiny and subtle ways that I was becoming sensitive to my one, and sometimes two cups of daily coffee. I even read an entire book on the topic several years ago, but I think at some level I didn’t believe I could actually quit, or I believed that it would be too hard. Then, over the course of a few mornings, after my favourite cup of homemade coffee, I noticed that my head would hurt, I would become very fatigued, and feel unwell.  After a few days of this new awareness, one morning I spontaneously told myself that I was done with coffee. I was miraculously detached and withdrawn from my usual love affair with coffee. I was flabbergasted at how easy it was to suddenly not need, or want, my usual cup of coffee. It felt a bit like magic, but I’m telling you, this was no joke!  I attribute it to my yoga practice and the corresponding self-awareness, intentionality and energy that I gained from the practice. More than ever I became very in tune with the negative effects that coffee was having on me.

 

These are just a few of the ways in which yoga has helped me to achieve my goals and to make important life changes. The list of benefits is growing and soon I hope to share even more about my journey with yoga! I’m interested in hearing more about your own experiences with yoga and how it’s helped you to make changes in your life! Please write to me at allisonfoskett@live.ca