Last year, one of the activities I decided to take up was yoga and meditation. Around this time last year, it was the start of the pandemic and I had just returned to the US after living in South Korea for 3 months. When I was living in Korea, I wasn’t able to work out because I lived in a Goshiwon and those rooms are super tiny (think the size of a closet or bathroom), the only time I would exercise was when I would take a walk in the park. When I came back home I made sure to exercise as much as I could before I went back to Korea but then the global pandemic happened and I had to remain in the US. Instead of dwelling
on the state of the world, I decided to take up daily yoga and add meditation to my routine to help calm my anxieties and get toned muscles along the way! It’s now been around a year since I pick up these two habits and I wanted to share my experience of doing these activities for a year and how they changed my life.
When I was in my teens I started doing yoga, I borrowed a ‘yoga for teens’ DVD and followed some of the routines. I fell in love with yoga because it doesn’t feel like you’re exercising and I was fascinated with the poses that yoga offers so I decided to follow more yoga routines I could find online. Like I mentioned, I was a teen so Youtube was still a new platform back then so not that much content was available yet. So I just bought whatever yoga DVDs I could find. The older I got the more yoga became a side hobby. I would treat yoga days as my “off days” when I didn’t want a full exercise but still wanted to move. But it wasn’t until last year, that I realized yoga can be as impactful as any other exercise.
I started out my 2020 yoga journey by following Adriene’s yoga monthly calendar. She offers a calendar with a yoga video each day. The playlist is also available on her Youtube channel. These daily videos can range anywhere from 5-60 minute videos, I normally don’t peek at the calendar and just play the video and live in the moment. I’ve been following Yoga With Adriene videos for years and have joined multiple of her monthly yoga journeys. Around late 2020, I wanted more of a challenge and that’s when I encountered the Boho Beautiful Yoga channel. Those videos are slightly more challenging than Adriene’s videos so I appreciate the difference in both channels. My yoga routine consists of the daily yoga video from Yoga With Adriene and a video from the Boho Beautiful Yoga, I have a list of videos I’m working my way through. I do about an hour of yoga a day, almost every day I do occasionally allow myself a break day when I feel like my body needs it.
How was my body improved after a year of yoga?
My balance and flexibility have improved slightly. I’ve always been pretty good at both, but over the years, as I have gotten older, I have noticed that I’m not as balanced and flexible as before. But after a year of almost daily yoga (I did skip a few days here and there) I have noticed an increase in my balance and flexibility. My body has obviously gotten more toned due to daily yoga, change is inevitable when you practice something every day. I found that my thighs, arms, and stomach were my most lean/toned areas. Pretty much my entire body got somewhat toned but I notice those spots look more toned now. Since I don’t weigh myself, I can’t say if I lost any weight or not. However, I did notice that my hips have slimmed down a lot! Thank you extended child pose! I’m Hispanic, so wide hips run in my family genes and it has always been a complex of mine since I was a teenager. I didn’t think yoga had the ability to shrink this area of my body but I’m very thankful that yoga did this! I still have wide hips (probably always will) but there is less fat on them now.
My love for meditation grew because of yoga, I now look forward to meditation! I’ll talk about this next, but the reason I started daily meditation was that I looked forward to that ‘silent moment’ where you meditate at the beginning or end of a yoga practice. In fact, I did a few monthly challenges from both Yoga With Adriene and Boho Beautiful Yoga where they did weekly or monthly journeys with a meditation video, every other day. I looked forward to meditation so much that I incorporate meditation into my morning routine, I do it before I work out.
I don’t remember the first time I mediated. It must have been from a yoga video though. When I started meditating I do remember it being difficult because it’s so easy to get distracted and let your mind wander aimlessly. The more you practice meditation, the more it becomes easier to tame these random thoughts. However, even after practicing meditation almost daily (I do forget sometimes) I still get those thoughts, and when I do I just tell myself to focus on the breath. Eventually, you’ll reach this zen atmosphere and realize that not thinking about anything for a few minutes can be so blissful. I leave every meditation session with a peaceful mind and feel happier throughout the day. If you haven’t tried meditating I highly highly recommend it!
How has meditation improved me in a year?
There are so many benefits to practicing mediation regularly. I highly recommend watching Headspace: Guide To Meditation on Netflix to learn more. My sleep has improved, when I meditate before bed I sleep way better. It’s calmed my anxiety for sure! I’m a very very anxious person. I get anxious just by thinking of doing simple mundane tasks, it’s very annoying. Plus, I drink coffee which can make my anxiety even worse (don’t ask me to quit though because I can’t live without that bean juice!). However, when I mediated daily it really calms down my anxiety. My personal goal is to be able to start and end my days with 10-15 minutes of meditation. Right now, I can only meditate for 15 minutes. Meditation is kind of like a muscle in which you need to practice regularly for the muscle to become stronger and my meditation muscle is still growing.
Like I mentioned above, I look forward to meditation. It’s part of my routine now and I feel off if I don’t meditate at least once a day, I’ve done two meditation sessions a day before which is magical! I know it sounds foreign to some to say that I look forward to meditating but if you meditate regularly then you probably understand what I mean.
I use the app, Insight Timer to track my meditation process, they offer tons of free guided meditations, and/or you can use their timer. I’ve always been someone who meditates to music. Before I discovered Insight Timer, I would search Youtube for 5-10 minute meditation videos. However, after following the New Moon and Full Moon guided meditations I started to appreciate guided meditations. Now,
I switch between guided meditations and using a timer on Insight Timer. One day, I would like to be able to meditate without any noise at all but I’m one who gets distracted easily. haha
Do practice yoga and meditation regularly?