by Madisyn Walter
Yoga has been the greatest mentor to me throughout the past two years, guiding my life toward a sense of nirvana. Life means so many different things to so many different people; full of decisions, actions, happiness and regrets. These decisions, like the tide, rise and fall each day. Every person has a constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness, yet it is up to the individual to make that happiness a reality.
My path to personal happiness started when I found yoga. Yoga, which is the practice of bringing wellness and strength into the body, is aimed to reduce the chaotic stress associated with life and help achieve inner peace. Previously in life I was focusing too much on the situations around me instead of the mental and physical turmoil living within me. However, when I started the practice of yoga everything changed. I had more respect for the health of my mind, body and soul. The less I started to worry about all the problems around me the more I began to realize more about my personal character and how unbalanced my life had been. It was a breath of fresh air to be able to wake up and not feel the anxiety of a new day; instead, I could rejoice in knowing that I now have the mental and physical tools needed to tackle every obstacle that life throws at me.
Yoga does not take stressful situations out of your life; reversely it guides you to better awareness of how to deal with those stressful situations. Throughout my childhood I experienced a lot of frustration, resulting in arguments with everyone. Managing my stress did not happen after one yoga session. Instead, as with most great things in life, it happened with consistency and practice. When practicing yoga, which is a mind-body connection experience for me; and it consists of a combination of activities from controlled breathing to meditation, and relaxation to physical poses. After enough practice, these activities become second nature and I find myself dealing with stress in a totally different manner. This ancient practice of meditation and yoga has thusly encouraged my mind to heal itself rather than shut down due to chaotic distractions in everyday life. For example, instead of suffering a bad break down, yoga has helped me to be able to categorize and identify areas of stress in my life and allow me to handle them in order of importance. In my experience this has been a much healthier approach to dealing with stress rather than self-medicating or consulting a physician.
In order to deal with this epic reality time and time again, one must understand their own ‘feeling of being’. For some this is an extremely intimidating task to confront because you are becoming aware of whom you are by flowing into your own natural rhythm. The easiest way to feel your sense of wellbeing is by becoming aware of yourself. Try this: Relax the body from your jaw all the way down to your toes by exhaling into each section of the body. After you find yourself comfortable in a position where there is no tension, turn your focus on thegentle expansion and release of your abdomen as the breath draws and flows out of the mouth and/or nose. Once a rhythm is established locate the short pause between each breath and focus on harmonizing each inhale and exhale. At this point of your practice you may experience a natural smile or some type of warmth lingering in the body. This is the presence of your wellbeing. To some this may sound strange but that will change once the importance of being in tune with your body is been discovered.
It is self-evident to the majority of people who try yoga, that it is an extremely healthy way to combat stress. The well-being of one’s mind should be paramount above all else. A healthy mind is free to better assist the body in problem-solving and thus creates a better flow in work and many other aspects of life. It is understood that many people may find the idea of yoga to be a stressful thought in of its own; and I can assure you, it took some time for me to get used to it as well. Through yoga I have found true happiness in myself and it is my wish that in reading the positive aspects it has played in my life that you as well may find the peace we all deserve. Namaste.