The classic movie It's a Wonderful Life and yoga have two things in common. First of all, you cannot help but feel better after watching the movie or practicing yoga. Secondly, both get better each time. Ironically, when this icon of a movie came out in 1946, it got mixed reviews. It took nearly 40 years before it really was recognized as a masterpiece with a simple message. You have an unknown impact on countless lives. George Bailey was given the gift of seeing the ripple effect of his life; however, most of us won't have that gift. What we do have is the gift of knowing that we have the power to make a difference every day. It is that simple. The wonderful practice of yoga can help give you the strength on this journey to make it a great one.
In the past few years, yoga has escalated on the fast track as being recognized as a truly powerful practice. (Or, for some, known as exercise) The images of being a contortionist appear to be subsiding and the excuse of not being flexible is waning. Even the Western medical field is finding it to help a lot of patients with issues ranging from arthritis to depression.
From a anatomical standpoint, there are truly countless benefits. You literally are exercising your body from the outside in. The muscles are strengthened without force, the bones get stronger, the organs get compressed in such a way that they "squeeze" out toxins, and yes, your flexibility improves. Every part of the body gets attention. It literally telling your body to be alive! As we get older, it is common to slow down. However, with the dynamics of yoga, the body doesn't get the message to slow down. Therefore, it can actually slow down the aging process.
Mentally, the practice of yoga trains you to be present. It takes time to get the "chatter" to slow down if you're like most people. Yoga and the conscious breathing it advocates gets the mind to slow down and learn to simply enjoy the current moment you are in. Certain poses ignite your parasympathetic nervous system to release the chemicals that the body needs to relax. Sleep becomes better. Problems become less overwhelming. As you practice yoga, you also learn how to bring yourself to an "edge" and respect that place for what it is now. Each practice is different because your body, mind, energy and flexibility varies from day to day. It is fun to be able to achieve a pose you have patiently worked on; however, the energy of frustration is eliminated over time because you learn the pose is not what matters. It is the journey of getting there that matters.
Just like George Bailey learned as he viewed his life. He had his frustrations and challenges...just like we all do. But, what really mattered in the grand scheme of things was the effect he had on others. He had the help of his guardian angel, Clarence, to wake him up and see his life. You have one too. Your angel gives you those "butterflies" in the stomach or the moment of hesitation before doing or saying something. As you practice yoga, you become much aware of your angel's guidance. It makes everything so much easier when you master the art and have the courage to follow your heart. Practice your yoga on a regular basis (2-3 times a week) and you will feel and see the difference. People who know you will notice too.
After you have that moment when you wonder what life was like without yoga, Clarence's words will truly touch you because you will learn so much about the impact YOU make on the planet. Not only in the past, but in the present as opportunities appear.
"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?" Thank you Clarence....well said.
If you haven't started yoga yet, Nashville is loaded with lots of places and teachers to experience. Check out various places and see where you feel at home. It is a great component to enrich your life with and you will never get bored! It truly is a wonderful practice.