By Amy Kerman-Gutzmer, Yoga Instructor
How can yoga help you? As a yoga instructor, I know that the benefits are numerous. But I wanted you to hear it from real people doing yoga on a consistent basis, so I reached out to a few of my awesome regulars in class and asked them for their stories.
I was inspired and in awe of their stories and very pleased to hear very different insights and benefits from each person I interviewed. I was honored that Heidi asked me to share some of their stories and the benefits of yoga with you.
Yoga Helps Relieve Pain and Aids Balance
Rita Coake, age 79, started practicing yoga in August of 2013 and now practices three days per week. She had gone for physical therapy after she retired in 1993 for severe back pain (partially due to scoliosis). The physical therapy helped a great deal, however she had to go back for a “tune up” every few years as the pain would return. She noticed when she came to yoga for the first time that we were doing many of the same exercises that she did in physical therapy and she found that one of the great benefits of yoga is that she has not had to go back to PT since she started yoga.
My favorite story that she told me a while ago and I asked her to tell again was that when she first started yoga, she had a difficult time standing up and brushing her teeth and using a hair dryer; she always needed one hand to support herself to stand up. After coming to yoga con-sistently she no longer has this problem. If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is!
I love hearing stories like that from people in my classes; it always reminds me why I started teaching yoga and why I find it so rewarding.
Yoga Helps Manage Anxiety
To get a full spectrum of ages, I talked to Katie Paulsen, age 27, who has been practicing 4 times a week since July of 2014. She’s always been fairly flexible, but yoga has helped to really fine tune it. Since starting, she has noticed more definition in her arms and found it helps her with balance, muscle tone and flexibility (all things that she needs after graduating with a theater major and performing in theater and dance productions). In addition to the physical aspects, she has found it has given her another outlet to help manage anxiety.
Yoga + Meditation Helps Mental Calmness
Deb Hornell, age 59, started practicing yoga around March of 2014 and now, in addition to her 2 days a week of yoga, has incorporated meditation 7 days per week. She feels that the combina-tion of breathing techniques and postures helps her to focus more and tune out the noise around her. She said she has “always been like a spinning top” (I love that description!), but now she feels physically and mentally calmer and much more in the moment. She truly embraces the mind/body connection and loves that it doesn’t feel like she has to impress anyone and that it’s not just about working out. After class, she feels both energized and calm at the same time and has more energy than she has in a long time.
Yoga Class Helps Energize and Provide a Sense of Community
I also spoke with Donna McLean, age 88, who, 3 years ago at the age of 85 walked into her first yoga class (mine!). I remember when each of these lovely ladies first began, and I know it can be intimidating and take some courage, but to come to a class for the first time after never trying in your life at 85 is a story I will remember forever. Donna has been active her whole life, which I’m sure has helped her to become the strong woman she is today. She talked about the friends that she has made in her classes and how much the social aspect has made a difference in her life (in addition to the 1 day a week she does yoga, she also takes a Sit and Be Fit class 3 days a week). In addition to the social benefits, she has noticed yoga has helped with her arthritis pain as well as her back pain and helps her to feel less tired and stiff.
Schedule Your Yoga Practice to Make it Happen
Each of the women talked about their commitment to the practice and how they almost schedule it as an appointment in their lives. Commitment is a necessity because it can be easy to get dis-tracted or to let other things get in the way. I am so inspired by each of their stories and I will be breaking them down into individual stories on my own site, EveryDayYogaEscape.com, so if you are interested in hearing each of their full yoga stories, come by and check out them out (coming soon!).
Thank you to Rita, Katie, Deb and Donna for sharing your amazing stories! I know we can all see ourselves in one of their stories and I hope you feel inspired by each of them. Thank you to Heidi for letting me guest post today, Happy Well Lifestyle is such a great source of information to live, well, a Happy Well Life! And thank you to all of you for reading. May you have many benefits in your own yoga journey!
Please leave a comment to let us know how you benefit from your yoga practice.
Amy Kerman-Gutzmer is a yoga instructor and a presenter at conferences to help create your best life. She lives just outside Chicago, Illinois. Follow her on Facebook. Amy’s website and blog can be found at EveryDayYogaEscape.com. Amy has a passion for bringing calmness into the lives of others and loves introducing yoga to those who are just starting out. She truly believes that yoga is for every body. Come by and check out her tips for incorporating yoga into your daily life! Her new DVD “Everyday Yoga with Amy” (which is great for beginners!) can be found on her website as well.