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The healing arts is something I researched extensively as a way to help bring us into closer connection to ourselves. One thing that continued to pop up in my research was yoga. It can be considered a “moving meditation.” One of the most popular programs to treat chronic stressed developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program, includes two main practices: mindfulness meditation and yoga. It’s benefits have improved the lives of such a wide population.
Yoga generates a sense of interconnectedness and community, which is beneficial to one’s social and spiritual health. This means that yoga could be beneficial for populations at risk for social isolation. Researchers at Johns Hopkins and Pennsylvania State Universities have been looking at the benefits to urban schools using it for their students to manage stress.
Yoga can help in these awesome ways:
-Creates a deeper sense of connection between oneself and others
-Helps slow a racing mind
-Improves aches and pains
-Strengthens the immune system
As I’ve practiced both at home and in a group setting I’ve found one of my favorite things is the “zen” vibe I get from instructors or those practicing. I really believe we feed off of the energy of the people around us, or even what we watch (if we practice yoga from a video). The “yoga vibe” can be so addicting! Who doesn’t want to be around others who have the goal of creating more peace and centeredness in their life?
The more I’ve practice, the more I’ve come to see there are certain things that help me in my practice.
1) The first thing is a manduka yoga mat. I had others, but since having this I slip less and also feel great having something I know will last FOREVER. Plus, they have some killer colors. Another thing I like about mine (I have the maduka pro) is that it gives a little extra cushion for restorative yoga.
2) Ok, so I know Lululemon can be very pricey, but I’ve found that I’d rather have less than more if it means having a quality product. These are my current favorite I have… but since having a baby I now have these on my list because they help hold in the belly and go just a bit higher. My “push present” was lululemon gear, and I wish I would have listened to the person at lulu who told me to get them (wunder under). One other shout-out for Lululemon (and no I’m not paid to do this) is their customer service. I tell everyone this, but I shop there because I know they want their customers to be happy. I pay a little extra just for that- it’s so huge for me!
3) When practicing at home, I’ve often needed a yoga block. It wasn’t until recently that I finally purchased one. If you practice mainly at a studio you won’t need this. I got the manduka block, but you can definitely find cheaper. I chose to get one that was a bit more, again, because I wanted to buy something I knew would last. It’s a cork block which makes it heavier than most blocks, but it really is indestructible.
4) The final thing I’ve found super helpful is my yoga mat spray. It’s natural and smells amazing. The one I currently use is the Asutra yoga mat cleaner in calming citrus. The next one I plan to get is another all natural cleaner using essential oils. I’ve always been taught to take care of what you’ve been given, so this is just my small way of tending to my mat so I keep it nice and fresh!
I wish you well in your yoga practice! If you're looking to go deeper in our relationship to yourself and others, check out my course. May your thoughts be clearer and your stress levels decreased. Namaste!