I’ll admit it. I was a yoga-atheist.  I couldn’t believe that bending and holding poses could do anything for my body, let alone my mind.  The first time I went to yoga, I fussed and fidgeted, I bemoaned the Ujjayi breathing, the staying still, and the soothing tones of the instructor; the calmer she was, the angrier I became. I swore off yoga, making excuses like, “I’m just the kind of person who needs to move and run when I work out.” I turned my back and bid downward dog good riddance. I wanted to burn calories, not get connected with my innermost self. 

 I think a lot of non-yogis feel this way.  When you’re used to the gym, to running outdoors, to movement, making the switch to a yoga mat can be daunting. Non-believers don’t think yoga does anything.

I certainly thought so. That is, until about a year ago, in a complete twist of events, I decided to give it another go.  Another year older, another year wiser perhaps, but this go-around yoga changed my life and my attitude toward exercise.

Yoga shapes the body, calms the mind, eases the nervous system, focuses and improves concentration, and pushes the limits of the body.  If you do the poses correctly, focus on proper alignment, and really sink into it, yoga is hard.  Really hard. There’s nothing quite like calming your mind while your muscles are burning. It’s a full body makeover, where your insides match your outsides – even if it’s just for an hour, or ten minutes, it’s transformative.

I finally grew to understand the power of yoga. For 90 minutes, twice a week, my practice encourages my physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, and I feel refreshed and ready for my day, nourished every time I unroll my mat.

-Arianna Schioldager

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