By Deanna Aliano
Practicing yoga on and off for fifteen years has led me to one conclusion: I need to be disciplined and keep a regular practice to maintain the evolution that yoga has helped me attain.
So I’ve begun compiling a list of all the ways yoga has changed my life. I share it with you in hopes that you will be inspired to begin a practice, or maintain or resume your current one.
1. I am more relaxedand handle the daily stresses in my life better. Stress can’t be completely eliminated but it can be managed. Yoga is a path to achieve that.
2. I am healthier. Yoga has helped me lose weight, increase my muscle tone and given me better posture, just to name a few of many changes.
3. I am more focused. My time on my mat has taught me to tune out outside distractions while I am there. This sense of focus has been attained off the mat too.
4. I have a strong sense of accomplishment. Nearly every time I go to class I notice an improvement on some level – going a little deeper into a pose, a little more balance, holding a pose longer. These little achievements make me realize I am getting somewhere.
5. My daily interactions have improved. I’m more confident in my skin because I have found my center. Therefore I am not intimidated by others or self-conscious. I now enjoy my time with other people because I can be myself.
6. I eat better. I went from being a carnivore to eliminating red meat, then poultry, and now I am a complete vegan. My body no longer craves sugar or animal products.
7. I am more patient with myself. My time on the mat has taught me not to push myself beyond what I am ready for. I no longer feel the need to have a practice like the other yogis in the room, but instead allow myself to be where I need to be at that moment – even if that changes daily!
8. I am more patient with others. Learning to be patient with myself enabled me to look at the world and realize everyone is at their own place in life. Being judgmental or trying to change people gets you nowhere.
9. I am less fearful. I learned to push myself past my level of comfort and into the unknown while on my mat. This same idea applies to life in a big way.
10. I am more flexible both mentally and physically. Of course, you expect to become more physically flexible through yoga, but I didn’t realize that as my body practiced asana, my mind began to change, and I now accept & perceive everything from different angles.
11. I am stronger both mentally and physically. Yoga is not just about flexibility, but about finding the balance between flexibility and strength. Many of the poses take a tremendous amount of strength to hold! Sometimes the greatest strength is in keeping the mind from telling you that you cannot do it. Yoga taught me to refocus and tell myself that I can.
12. I am able to sit quietly for long periods of time. My mind still wanders, but it is much easier to bring it back and become a silent observer.
13. I better understand who I am and my purpose in this life. We all have a path, something we are here to do. Practicing yoga put me in touch with that purpose and allowed me to reconnect with who I really am.
14. I better understand my true needs and can differentiate them from desires. This is hard and I often struggle with it, but it has become easier to recognize things I don’t really need to get by in life.
15. I am more creative and expressive. This connects to increased confidence. I think it is why many creative people are drawn to yoga. While practicing, you find the confidence to express yourself. Also, when you clear the mind of excess baggage your creativity rises to the surface.
16. I am more present. Clearing the mind allowed me to better focus on the things immediately in front of me and I’m no longer sidetracked. I am really present.
17. I am more responsible. Developing discipline on the mat means more discipline in everyday life, and this has allowed me to see the things that need to be done and accomplish them.
18. I am happy and content with what I have and where I am in life. I recognize it for a path and not a destination.
19. I am more compassionate. By recognizing and letting go of my own stresses and pains, I am better able to recognize them in others, and perhaps help others to let go of their own suffering.
20. Giving and receiving more love in my life. By being at peace, content, and present, I have cultivated space in my life for others to join and share the good vibes…
Deanna has been exposed to many different styles of yoga and has recently taken the Dharma Yoga Life of a Yogi Teacher Training with Sri Dharma Mittra in New York City. Being a certified Pilates instructor, massage therapist, and fitness trainer, Deanna never thought she would find her higher self in a “fitness” class, but she did and has never looked back. She has developed Artasana workshops, exploring creativity through the art of yoga. She spends her time off the mat writing, illustrating yogis and enjoying her children at the New Jersey Shore.