A brand-new year is on the horizon, and for many of us that means getting back into shape after a sweet and tasty run through the holidays. As you choose between gym classes, DVD programs, Pilates, or kickboxing, I encourage you to take another look at the many benefits of yoga.
Yoga is a great hobby to pick up for fitness because it provides an excellent challenge to the physical body that is suitable for all body types. The low-impact energy of yoga offers those of all abilities something to gain, regardless of age, size, skill level, or ability. The many variations of the “poses” (or “asanas,” as many yogis say) each yoga style has guarantees that anyone can access it in some way. So, no need to fret over not being flexible enough, or not being able to sink as low as the next woman; it is really all about the stretch you get in your muscles when you do it. And, as you continue to do it more, your flexibility will increase, as will your confidence.
Outside of these benefits, yoga also offers perks that extend far beyond muscle groups and asanas. If you can let it, yoga can work your brain out, too. Not so much with rigorous activity, but rather a few moments in which you can pause, reflect, feel, and breathe. Downward facing dog is a great time to surrender to the moment and let go of some of the stress you are carrying. The action of rising into Warrior II can make you feel empowered, even if it takes a bit to really nail it at first.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of the mental benefits yoga provides is that it is a nice distraction from the bustle life always serves up. Even just 20 minutes of yoga in the evening before bed can do wonders for the mind by temporarily transporting us to a place of calm and comfort before returning us slightly more refreshed, relaxed, and able to focus on the lives we have in front of us.
Lastly, if you are not convinced just yet that yoga is worth your time, consider for a moment the symbolism yoga represents, and how this symbolism can complement your own image. I am not suggesting that every woman reading this go out and seek yoga certification, but engaging in yoga even just a few times a week serves to further align you and your life more closely with the calm and peaceful. This can be a refreshing benefit for black women as it directly negates stereotypes that we are militant, impatient, or less feminine.
If you have not ever done yoga, it is worth your time to try. If you have and put it down, try picking it up again with renewed intention. It is an excellent way to look after the body while also serving the mind and soul, and supports many of the other beneficial habits you look to establish in 2019.
Antoinette is an online curriculum designer who moonlights as a writer/editor, podcaster, and yogini. When she is not designing courses or recording episodes for her podcast, she is usually busy enjoying life with her husband and two children. Find her on Instagram @msantoinettechanel