Why We Practice

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This post comes from our contributor Kristen Hedges, a yoga and meditation instructor.

Stepping into my first yoga class wasn’t something that I had planned. But since then, I’ve realized that often the best things in life sneak up behind you and nip at your ankles; they whisper rather than shout.

I was walking down Sutter Street in San Francisco with a half-finished clay lion under my arm when I saw the class schedule taped to the inside of a studio window. There was a Vinyasa class starting then – right that second.

My heart hopped from the lion, to the wooden studio door and back again. But just as I was getting ready to turn away on my heel, another student opened the door and held it for me with a smile. I set the lion head down on the stairs. With one, fluid footstep, I simultaneously dropped out of art school, and slipped gracefully into a new chapter in my life. A better one, I think – full of asana, and months spent living at an Ashram in the valley, and lots and lots of hasty, heart-centered writing.

Many folks begin their yoga practice less dramatically than I did, often with a quick class at the gym, or a DVD at home. But yoga can plant a seed of transformation in your mind & in your body no matter how you stumble into your humble beginnings. All methods, class types & practices are wildly beneficial – as long as you take that first step, and start.

As a yoga instructor, I’ve found that the reasons my students choose to keep practicing vary quite a lot. So rather than listing out the standard benefits – better balance, muscle strength, flexibility, etc – I’ve asked some of my loving friends & fans to tell me why they practice.

“I practice yoga because it heals not only my body, but my mind & spirit as well.” – Anais (pictured above)

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“I practice regularly as a way of checking in with my body and my mind. Truly, yoga serves as my real-life “reset” button. When life gets crazy and overwhelming, I can always roll out my mat and slow everything down for a while.” – Janie

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“I love that yoga is whatever I need it to be, whenever I need it. Invigorating, calming, emotional or physical therapy, stress reliever, and so much more. From my practice I have learned to be present and to accept each and every moment for what it is. And yes, it is an incredible workout, too.” – Beth

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“My body craves the challenge of yoga, and I do my best to deliver.” – Erika

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“One reason I practice yoga is to achieve a sense of balance – for both my physical body and emotional being.” – Hannah

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“I practice yoga because it humbles me. It reminds me to breathe and realize it really is OK to be human, that we’re all in this together.” – Chelsea

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“I like to practice yoga because it reminds me to practice loving kindness with myself and it helps me appreciate my body and all the amazing things it does for me.” – Justene

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And me? I practice yoga because it’s the one of the only things that slows me down & drops me into the beauty of the moment, every single time.

So, tell me in the comments – why do you practice? And if you have any questions about yoga, how to get started, what it’s like, etc, I’m full of answers!

You can find Kristen here, and at facebook.com/withonlylove.

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Comments

Ella Wild -May 12, 2014, 7:36AM

For anyone whom has never tried yoga. It is not to be missed.
I would put it on my list of things to do before you die for anyone whom
hadn’t. it is up the with the time i scuba dove with sharks in Australia.
There is a catch, you can’t just take one class. do your self your mind and body
a favour and take 2-3 classes a week for a month.

And please don’t worry about falling over. we all do, i still do 5 years in.

Ella Wild xoxox
Visit me at : http://www.etsy.com/shop/HeartJewelryAlways
or : http://www.pinterest.com/HJAellawild/

Juliette Laura -May 12, 2014, 8:12AM

Ahhh beautiful! I love love yoga so much I helped start and am president of yoga club at my college! And I practice to say mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually balanced. It is the one time where my time is truly for my self.

http://juliettelaura.blogspot.com

Elina -May 12, 2014, 8:25AM

Awesome post!!!

I am new to yoga, and yet it has changed my whole world upside down.
My life now is all about stretching and meditation…. It’s like giving a blind person the ability to see ! how excited he can be!? I am him. I am sleepless at night , cuz I just want to practice , meditate and read to get to know myself much more… And believe me your posts are so inspiring.
Thanks.
:)

Sherri -May 12, 2014, 9:37AM

Thank you for the inspiration to continue my yoga practice! I haven’t made the time lately and that needs to change! :)
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Susan Jizba -May 12, 2014, 10:12AM

I find Yoga to be calming & centering. I stand taller with more confidence with a regular practice and I find I can more easily be fully in the beauty of the present moment.

The Weaver Of Words…. give me 15 words and I’ll tell you a tale…
http://averyfairytale.wordpress.com/

Stacy -May 12, 2014, 11:22AM

Love this entry and for all those who shared what yoga means/feels to them!! =) It is such a heart-warming feeling to read all of their responses. As a yoga teacher and continual student, myself, it is so rewarding and humbling to see my own students expand their horizon, grow with each class, and to catch a glimpse of their smiling selves as they practice, when they’re lying in Savanasa, and as they walk out of class..

For me? I practice yoga because it allows me to be completely free. Free in my mind, body, and spirit. The connection of all to help me embrace the here and now, the “moment”, and love myself. The same love I help to spread and share with all (both on and off the mat). <3

Love and light <3

Marijn -May 12, 2014, 11:48AM

What a great post, I love how everyone always seems to practice for different reasons that are really all the same.

I have been practising for about 2 years now and it has changed everything about me for the better. It has made me a kinder person, both towards myself and towards others, and has done an incredible job at making me realise what’s important in life.

Hilary -May 12, 2014, 3:44PM

Thanks for sharing. Love this!

I started doing yoga a few years ago after a particularly tough breakup. I was emotionally reeling and needed something to center myself. Stepping on to my mat forced me to let go of everything I was feeling and focus on my breath and simply being. Three years later, I still practice yoga because it helps me deal with anxiety. That and I love it of course! We live in a culture that celebrates being busy, but taking a few minutes out of your day to slow down and pay attention to your movements and breathing can have a huge effect on your state of mind off the mat!

Natalie -May 12, 2014, 5:18PM

Awesome post! It’s always so interesting and lovely to hear the different reasons people gravitate toward yoga.

For me yoga is a way to truly appreciate my body and what it does for me as well as keeping me grounded and in the moment. I truly believe yoga has helped me appreciate everything to a much fuller extent.

Lovey -May 12, 2014, 11:00PM

I’ve wanted to do yoga for so long to get into physical shape and mental stability! Thank you for the encouragement and motivation to actually start! xoxox

Nathalie -May 13, 2014, 12:27AM

I only starting doing yoga about 4 months ago and I love it so much.
I think I can truly say that it changed my life. I feel so much calmer, more humble and grounded.
It made me a better person both mentally as physically.

Gia -May 13, 2014, 2:00AM

I only recently started doing yoga a couple months ago. It helps me feel free of negative emotions and worried and it helps my body feel amazing and healthy.

I’m a student in university and yoga classes are particularly expensive and too hard to afford at this time in my life. Is there any recommendations to help me further my practice without spending money I don’t have?

johnna green -May 13, 2014, 2:01AM

I am a Classical Pilates Instructor who has tried Yoga over the years and don’t yet have the love for it I know I could. With so many styles out there I am sure there is one that is a good fit for me. I am looking for the more athletic type of yoga as opposed to the meditation heavy yoga (which means I probably need it). Any suggestions? Pilates Vs. Yoga- What’s the difference
http://www.inallofhersplendor.com/2014/03/12/pilates-vs-yoga-whats-the-difference/

Gia -May 13, 2014, 2:06AM

I recently started yoga a couple of months ago and it has changed my life for the better. It helps me feel grounded. It helps my mind and my body be free from the everyday world.

I’m a university student and yoga classes are particularly expensive where I live. Is there any way I can further my practice past YouTube videos without breaking the bank?

Kayse -May 13, 2014, 9:11AM

Yoga fills the void of anything I may be missing in life. It becomes comfort, fulfillment, movement, whatever I need it to be that day. It restores me and after every session, I feel more whole.

Kristen -May 13, 2014, 10:24AM

Johnna – Honestly, the best thing you can do is try out as many teachers & styles as you can! You’re right, there are a TON of different styles. Plus, all teachers are a bit different in the way they run their class. You might want to try a Power Yoga, Vinyasa, or maybe even Bikram, if the heat doesn’t get to you! You also might be right in saying that with the resistance, you might actually NEED a bit more meditative yoga in your life (;

Gia – Totally get you. Classes can really break the bank. It really depends on how much yoga you’re comfortable with! If you’ve gone to a few classes, watched a few videos at home & are really feeling drawn to a sequence of asanas, you can try weaving together a home practice of your very own! Build your own flows & rhythms. You can also reach beyond a physical practice & try reading books on yoga, meditation & philosophy.

cristina -May 13, 2014, 10:26AM

Gia- check online and see if there are any donation based yoga studios in your area! I also happen to absolutely love this yoga teacher at my gym that brings in 100+ yogis every class… shes awesome… and that’s included in my very affordable gym membership.

cathrine -May 14, 2014, 6:52AM

I do yoga because it’s the only thing I have, that is not something shallow or something you can loose – like money or friends or success, but that is only mine, is always there for me and that I do for me, and myself only.

Urban Hippie -May 18, 2014, 5:33PM
MadeleineMiranda -June 22, 2014, 5:35AM

Lovely! I have been so busy recently that I have not had time to go to class… But this has inspired me to put a yoga dvd on and take a well-deserved break from everything this evening! Thank you!

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