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7 Reasons to Practice Yoga (If You Are Me)

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Why should you practice yoga? I don’t know.

I don’t know you. I don’t know what works for your body or your emotions or the chemical combination of your particular temperament.

I can, however, tell you exactly why I practice yoga. Which might, in turn, help you decide what you could glean from asana. Or it might just tell you more about my particular temperament, which won’t be helpful at all. You’re welcome.

To be bendier:
But not in the gross way. I run. I do body-weight resistance training. I often work on my feet. My body might as well come with a sign that says, “I’m full of knots!” Yoga affords me a space to stretch out the damage. Fitting my foot behind my head out of context is an unnecessary party trick. It’s the process involved in reaching a peak pose like Compass that balances out the tightening procedures of my daily life.

To get stronger:
In all ways. People come into yoga with either more strength or more flexibility. I came in on the flexible side. To go further as a yoga practitioner, you work to get both facets to equalize. This means, to delve deeper into yoga, I had to get stronger. I still do.

My core has to tighten on all sides in order to protect my bendy back in inversions. My hamstrings have to steel themselves to lift me back up from a forward fold. My body shifts to understand its own limits and connections. It begins to understand how to right itself, while my brain observes. And only then do I become adjustable and iron and the best kind of strong.

To be present:
Even if “the now” is “suck-face awful.” Being aware does not mean being happy all the time. I do not do yoga so that I can induce a stasis of pleasantries. Moving my body often is a happy thing for me to do. Paying attention to what is directly in front of me helps me make choices that keep my life as happy as I can make it.

But bad things happen to all people. And there is something massively important to be said about being present. About the one and only moment I can possibly be alive in at any given time. Is it awful? Rotten? Soul-crushingly rancid? Breathe it in. Because there is absolutely no way to know what happens next. This is the only reality I know and I’d rather know it fully.

Because spin class is the worst:
You might like spin. You might also like Pilates or Bar Method or the treadmill or anything else that gives me boredom-induced anxiety. If you like those, you should do those. I’ve tried them; I hate them. I’m sticking to yoga for my class-format fix.

To get that heady after-glow:
Post-yoga is a buzzing in my head and a bubbling on my skin. It’s a current of electric calm. It’s completion and continuation and liquidity of thought. It is, somehow even, the entirely internal absence of thought. It is Savasana.

To breathe:
And move. And repeat. Because more than the Savasana product of practice is the process of getting there. To bubble and buzz takes the total union of breath and movement. To fully unionize takes practicing the combination over and over and over. It sounds easy, right? Breathing and moving? It’s hard. And I like the challenge of doing something that is so secretly difficult.

To be a person and nothing more for 60-plus minutes:
Also a secret challenge. To dip out of a race and relinquish the baton for however long is ninja-level stealth. We aren’t normally allowed to be humans without lists and tasks and requirements. Yoga, therefore, feels like the ultimate in breaking all the rules.

Be fluid in stillness; be in union with contradiction. Be a rebel without saying a word. This is my biggest reason to practice yoga. But that’s just me.

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About

Kate Stone started taking yoga in middle school as a rebellious move against sports camp. After years of gymnastics, not having to flip over after a backbend was a relief, and the practice stuck. After college, Kate moved to Chicago to teach mean children how to read. She was marginally successful but felt severely, physically ill-equipped to deal with the fighting in her classroom. As someone who takes things literally, she became a personal trainer. Kate spent eight years in Chicago working in gyms, bars and museums, feeling like she was supposed to have a real job. In 2011, she realized she doesn’t ever want one of those. Kate spent all of her money on yoga training, and now works as a yoga teacher, writer and bartender living in Boston. Connect with her on Twitter @kstonetraining

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