What my Yoga Practice gave me

Yoga can provide you with all kinds of things. I listed 5 things I personally got out of my practice.

If you’re a Yogi, you’ll be with me on this. If you’re thinking about starting with Yoga, then reading this article will encourage you to start sooner rather than later!



I first started Yoga some 6-7 years ago with an App, which was, to be frank, alright. I then started going to a class that my friend was teaching but, admittedly, it was hard at first to overcome my nervousness to do so. Nevertheless, I went – and have never looked back since. I took a lot of valuable knowledge out of those first classes, and then went on to practise for myself.


After a while, I had the chance to sign up for a few different classes in a studio that is conveniently enough right next to my workplace. This made it a lot easier to actually attend classes.

Let me be clear, I did my fair share of Core Yoga classes that had nothing to do with building core strength, like at all. But, I kept going and signing up for other class formats as well until eventually, I found my holy grail in the form of an amazing teacher.

On a side note, it wasn’t love at first sight, I had to attend 3 or 4 classes until I could fully accept what this teacher could give me. Within 1.5 years I was doing 5 classes a week and decided to join a Yoga Teacher Training Course – which goes to show just how much I took out of my practice!

There are quite a few things that one can get out of a Yoga practice, depending on what you seek to get. There’s a full spectrum: from purely physical, to purely spiritual, and everything in between. For me, it was always more about physical exercise rather than finding spiritual enlightenment, which naturally influences what I get from Yoga. Below I listed 5 things that I got out of my Yoga practice to share with you.


 

'.. you’ll be surprised just how quickly there’s a noticeable and visible improvement in your practice.'



1. Physical health


If you choose a physically demanding class and a teacher who will push you out of your comfort zone, the physical benefits of Yoga will be pretty obvious. After a very short time of practicing, you’ll see improvements in your flexibility, strength and your posture.

Furthermore, you will gain balance and the ability to control your body (parts), which can be very helpful for other sports such as climbing. And you’ll be surprised just how quickly there’s a noticeable and visible improvement in your practice.

One thing that always stuck out for me was the stamina I displayed in yoga classes (I am usually not very vigorous). There would always be this moment after another low push-up where I thought‚ “Ok, that’s it - I just keep lying on my belly”. But, then I would think, “Screw it,” and get up again. This point right there is where the magic happens. It’s when something changes inside you.


2. Connection to body & mind

Another thing that you will definitely get is a sense for the signals that your body and mind are sending you. You’ll be able to feel and identify if something is off, and potentially have the right tools at hand to improve that situation. The connection to your body is built up during practice, when certain Asanas (postures) require a movement or engagement of muscles you’re not used to. Or do you usually practice the movement of your pelvis and stretch the soles of your feet? By practicing different things, you will learn what feels good or bad, and what your body needs in certain situations.

Yoga is a great way to calm your mind, or to pause your thoughts - you will rarely catch yourself thinking about anything else than yoga during your practice. During meditation or Shavasana, you’ll eventually learn how to let go of thoughts that are both distracting and/or negative. You will be able to control your mind to a certain extent - both on and off the mat.

What’s more, there will be moments of clarity that will allow you to figure out exactly what you’re feeling and what led to that emotion.


3. Acceptance and Patience


Once you can identify what’s keeping your mind busy, it’s easier to come to terms with it. I want to point out two things that I have learned:

Firstly, I am an utter idealist; I am craving harmony and equality. So, every time I think about social injustice, climate crisis and so on, I get in a state of agony and helplessness. In German we have a term for this called Weltschmerz (literally “world-pain”), and it can be extremely draining. What Yoga gave me is the ability to identify this state of mind and help put a stop to it. This doesn’t mean I don’t care dearly about these topics, but I can determine when these thoughts are sapping my energy.

Secondly, Yoga helped me to manifest one of my core values, which is a firm belief in the fact that every bad situation is temporary and that things will get better. I have learned to be patient with myself and my environment. This helps me accept that there are things I might not be able to change, and to be at ease with this feeling.


4. Creating a routine

Something that many people lack these days is dedicated self-time. Yoga can serve as a great way to make time for yourself and to practice self-care. For a certain amount of time, you can push away everything going on in your daily life, and shift your focus back to just yourself.

It is extremely helpful to establish a routine - especially if you’re going through a rough patch - and stick to it. If you keep practicing Yoga and creating these moments of centering, it’ll become easier to prioritize yourself in day-to-day life. You will also learn when it’s necessary to take a step back and take a break.



'Seldom have I felt so welcomed and authentic in group of strangers, who after just a short while became my community. They’re kin.'


5. A great community

If you are, or were, anxious to go to a yoga class like I was, that’s perfectly normal. The thought that helped me to overcome this feeling of nervousness, was that everyone in the room was like-minded. Like me, they were also open to this ancient practice, they wanted to feel good in their body and they embraced the positive affirmations from the teacher.

I also relied heavily on the thought that I would encounter kind and authentic people, who would not judge me for how I dress or how high my leg is up. This is one of the values you will quickly adopt while practicing Yoga. There’s no competition as there is in other sports - as there’s no envy. Instead, you’ll find yourself being happy for strangers who can access an Asana and take their achievement as an inspiration. I mean, how great is that?

When I took my teacher training, I reminded myself again of walking into a room of like-minded people who were probably there for the same reasons I was. Seldom have I felt so welcomed and comfortable in group of strangers who, after just a short while, became my community. They’re kin.

 
'Your Yoga practice will give you whatever you allow for.'


You might have noticed that this list mostly contains things that have nothing to do with my physical ability or appearance, even though my practice is usually more physically demanding than spiritually.

Your Yoga practice will give you whatever you allow it to. Even if your only goal is to learn how to do a handstand, you can rest assured there will be all sorts of lessons learned. You will probably need more practice than you’ve anticipated, you may even need to ask your mat-neighbor if they can lend you a hand or shoulder to help you get up. But, you will also learn to overcome your fears, and convince your brain to allow you to put your heart over your head. Ultimately, you will connect with your body, your mind & your environment. After all, Yoga means connection.


I am curious to hear what you have gotten out of your Yoga practice or what you’d wish to get out of it! Do my learnings resonate with you? Let me know in the comments section or email me: hello@vanessafriedrich.yoga.



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