By Lily Firth
I’m never one to judge someone else’s health decisions, considering most of my favorite activities involve eating junk food and sitting on the couch. But as winter break wasted away, I realized that I felt lethargic, lazy and unproductive. I knew that exercising was always an option, but in the past, every time I tried to make a routine out of exercising, I found myself sweaty, tired and bored, desperately wanting it to end. I would exercise for at most a week, then go back to making excuses not to and avoid it at all costs.
Then, one of my close friends suggested I try yoga. She goes to school in California, where yoga is all the rage, and said she was addicted to it. I was skeptical at first — wasn’t yoga just for hipsters and vegans who cherish the Earth and only know the word “namaste?”
My friend insisted that I should try it and even dragged me to a class. It was one of the only times I was actually happy to be proven wrong. Yoga engages the body, of course, but it also engages the mind and challenges you to find your breathing — something I didn’t even know was possible. I thought breathing was just a natural, involuntary thing that couldn’t be done wrong.
I found myself surprised when the class was over, because I was enjoying myself so much I did not realize that an hour went by. The atmosphere is utopian — the only sounds are soft music and the soothing voice of the instructor floating through the warm, comforting air.
I was nervous at first, because I expected to be the only person without any experience, but once I got there I realized I wasn’t alone, and that the instructor was always there to guide me if I needed it. I didn’t even feel like I was exercising but when class was over, I felt invigorated and tired, even a bit sweaty. My muscles felt good and I felt productive and happy — way more than when I was binge watching shows on the couch.
The best part about yoga is that the effects are not just right after the session. I felt myself naturally waking up earlier in the day, wanting to eat healthier to better myself instead of just to look good and found myself genuinely happier. Yoga helped me appreciate myself and helped me make time just for me — no to-do lists, no worrying about petty drama —just me, myself and the mat.
I know yoga isn’t for everyone, but I think the important thing I learned this winter break is that there are lots of different ways to stay active. Exercising doesn’t always mean on a treadmill for countless, monotonous minutes or doing crunches until you can’t breathe. It’s all about finding the activity that makes you feel better, whether it be pilates, biking, barre or zumba. It’s important to find a workout that leaves your muscles tired but a smile on your face. The hardest part is starting. After that, I promise you won’t be able to get enough.