I’ve recently begun to do yoga. I have to admit , I doubted any benefit from it. I scoffed and laughed at my friends that were convinced that yoga “cleanses” the soul. I didn’t come to yoga willingly, I had to be pushed into trying it per my chiropractor. Faced with medical bills or a little preventative measures through a $25 yoga class, my common sense and inner cheap skate said ‘Fine, let’s give it a whirl.”
It looks simple but like figure skating, looks can be deceiving. Starting from a place of having poor balance, out of shape overweight and emotionally drained, I can see a difference in the past in the past couple of months since beginning yoga.
Certain challenges of the writing life may be as easy to conquer as rolling out the yoga mat. Some experts say that just 10 minutes of yoga a day and proper breathing can improve your concentration and creativity. I was skeptical to say the least.
At a time when I can’t seem to focus, still battle with a brain fog, and am unable to concentrate due to back pain – I figured I had nothing to lose by trying. Jeff Davis, author of The Journey From the Center of the Page offers a scientific explanation for why yoga will improve things: ‘The front cortex reflects your current state of mind via continuously oscillating brain waves. When you’re multitasking, brain waves are at a speedy frequency of about 36 oscillations per second –these are beta waves. Breathing and intentional movement cut that rate by more than half and slow the speed to about 6 to 13 oscillations per second – – creating alpha waves. Yoga also improves communication between analytical frontal cortex and the emotional hindbrain. “When they communicate, there’s greater facility for generating and understanding metaphor, recognizing imagery, and greater awareness of emotions.”
Interesting – so I put it to the test. While struggling to find my balance in the class, watching the instructor effortlessly hold a pose I could tell a difference in just a few short weeks. First, for not doing anything strenuous, I was sore in places that I didn’t know you could be sore in. Secondly, my balance was improving. Even with modifications because of back injury, in one month I had made progress. Thirdly, and this is a big one – oxygen uptake. Deliberate breathing, deep cleansing breaths has given me increased oxygen flow. I have noticed that just left to my own, as most people do, sitting at my desk or wherever we tend to shift to shallow breaths. Yoga class made me consciously aware of deliberate breathing. I believe this more than anything else has helped my concentration, my ability to focus, and allowed the creativity to flow. It’s called a cleansing breath for a reason!
The stretching and holding of yoga has improved my flexibility some, I am a work in progress after all. The breathing exercises were – not to be coy or use a really bad pun, but I’m going to do it anyway – a fresh of breath air. Sometimes the simplest things make the biggest difference in our day-to-day lives. When I get to a particularly tense part of a scene or at a place where I am unsure where to take it next I find myself sitting up straight and breathing deeply, taking 3 deep cleansing breaths to clear my mind. It really does help as well as release the ever building tension as the day progresses.
My favorite pose is the warrior pose towards the end of the workout routine. As the instructor is reminding us to clear our minds and focus on the breathing, I remind myself that my body is strong and growing stronger. I am a warrior in my own world, able to tackle everything that life throws at me. I am a strong, capable woman! I can do this! It instills the confidence I need before writing, and gives me a little boost to tackle the rest of the day whereas if I had stayed home I probably would have surrendered to self-pity and pain. I no longer scoff at the value of yoga – it’s helping me tremendously.
How do you find your inner peace? How do you get your mind back in the game when life is a big distraction? How do you get your Zen on?
If you want to check out more about yoga, or help with poses you can visit www.yogajournal.com/poses.
Write on my warrior friends, may your road rise to meet you and you find your peace!