Why You Should Totally Do Beach Yoga

Why You Should Totally Do Beach Yoga

I guarantee you won't regret it.
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I continue to read about the benefits of yoga and how amazing it truly is. Being an athlete, most of the time I am moving around, sometimes not giving my body the rest it needs and deserves. Last week, I decided to try something other than soccer, a heavy workout, or running. I wanted to try beach yoga. After just one hour of relaxation and stress-free movements, I knew that my first time doing beach yoga would absolutely not be my last.

Why I recommend doing beach yoga, or yoga in general:

1. It's a positive start or end to your day.

If you're an early riser, doing yoga in the morning is a perfect start to your day. Practicing breathing, meditation, and stretching shortly after you wake up gets you off to a great start!

2. You don't have to be good at it!

Going into it, I wasn't sure how it was going to be. I'll admit it, I was nervous for beach yoga. Yes, I just said I was nervous for beach yoga. As I set out my towel on the sand I looked around at everyone stretching and meditating. As the session began, I completely blocked out what everyone else was doing and took the hour to focus on myself. I didn't know all of the names of the poses we were doing and I didn't know how to do most of them at first. The best thing about yoga though, is that there is absolutely no pressure at all! You don't have to be better than someone else because yoga is all about yourself, your mind, and your limitations.

3. You feel amazing afterwards.

Stretching is an athlete's very best friend. Anyone will tell you that after the difficult conditioning sessions everyone eagerly awaits the stretching part. At times you don't even realize it, but you are stretching and loosening up all different parts of your body. After the hour-long session of beach yoga, I can honestly say I have never felt better. Suddenly, my legs didn't feel heavy and my neck didn't feel stiff.

4. You can forget about everything for that time.

During the hour of beach yoga I was able to forget about everything. I forgot about the stresses of everyday life and everything else going on. To be able to forget about your troubles for a little while feels truly amazing.

5. The sunset sky at night.

Last but not least, through beach yoga at sunset you get to admire a kickass sunset on the beach! Living on the Cape, I can never get enough of sunsets on the beach.

Cover Image Credit: Cloud Pix

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National Eating Disorder Awareness Week Should Matter To All Of Us

Secrets make you sick.
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Next week (2/26 - 3/4) is National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) Week, a week where education, prevention, and treatment take the forefront.

In the United States alone, as many as 20 million women and 10 million men will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their lives. This statistic becomes especially troubling considering eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Despite these growing numbers, eating disorders are still incredibly stigmatized, and they are born and raised in silence.

This is exactly why National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is so important – to me, a survivor, to the millions of people struggling, and to a society that turns the other cheek to one of the deadliest, and most preventable, illnesses of our time.

This year's theme, sponsored by the National Eating Disorders Association, is Let's Get Real, a challenge and a promise to fight stigma and make it okay to talk about eating disorders, whether you're directly affected by them or not. The program encourages prevention through things like education and awareness, including the ability to recognize unhealthy thought and behavior patterns that may lead to the development of an eating disorder.

It also aims to educate the public on signs and symptoms of eating disorders to guide people in helping their loved ones who are struggling toward treatment and recovery. Along with prevention, the program encourages treatment and recovery through resources like their online screening tool and their 24/7 helpline. NEDA also works to fund treatment centers and counseling across the country, and the money raised during the week goes directly toward life-saving treatment for those who need it.

But arguably the most important aspect of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is the opportunity it gives us to finally talk about these diseases – without shame and without stigma.

Eating disorders are constantly around us, whether we know it or not. They are born and raised in silence. Giving us the permission and the platform to finally talk about them gives us power, and even gives us the chance at possibly saving someone's life. It gives us the chance to say to someone, "You are not alone" and "Recovery is possible." And it is so, so possible.

This National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I encourage you to head over to www.nationaleatingdisorders.org and take a look at the information and the resources made available. I encourage you to start a conversation in your own social circles, your dinner tables, your residence halls, etc.

I encourage you to help fight the stigma and save some lives. Let's Get Real – this week and every week.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, contact the NEDA helpline at (800) 931-2237, text "NEDA" to 741741, or visit the official NEDA website at www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.

For Stony Brook University students, contact CAPS at (631) 632-6720 or CAPS After Hours at (855) 509-5742.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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I'm Done Explaining Myself And My Body

I'm a work in progress.
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When I started college as a freshman, I was small. Small in a lot of different ways, but small in body size, first and foremost. Small in the most important way, I told myself.

Today as a senior, I am larger. Larger in body size for sure, but larger in a lot of different ways that I’m starting to realize are much more important. I’m larger in areas such as spirit, mentality, and empathy.

But throughout sophomore and junior year, I was only concerned with the expansion of my body. Mostly, I was concerned with what others were thinking about it.

There are a host of reasons behind my expanding body during those years, and I spent a solid portion of those years trying to explain my reasons to everyone. Literally. Everyone. To my family, to friends past and present, to people I’d just met who hadn’t even known me when I was small. To Facebook, to Instagram, to Twitter.

I explained myself and my weight gain to anyone and everyone before they could make up their own assumptions before they could place their own narratives on my body.

In her powerful memoir, “Hunger,” Roxane Gay concurs with this particular anxiety of mine: “When you’re overweight, your body becomes a matter of public record in many respects. Your body is constantly and prominently on display. People project assumed narratives onto your body and are not at all interested in the truth of your body, whatever that truth may be.”

I was determined for people to understand my truth — even the darkest areas of that truth — because I couldn’t bear to have those typical narratives placed on me. I could not allow people to think I was simply lazy and overeating for no reason other than a lack of willpower.

First and foremost, when I was explaining my body, I’d make sure people knew that at one point not too long ago, my body was small. And by the end of my explanations, I’d still be large in size and feel even smaller in the aforementioned more important ways.

Explaining my body never left me feeling more confident and safe in how people saw me. It just reinforced that my own self-worth was equated to my body size.

Luckily, things have changed this year. Through education, experience, and consistent training of my thoughts, I’ve slowly begun redefining my self-worth and started practicing more love and acceptance towards my body. I don’t feel as great a desire to explain my body to people, although I’m certain people still have their own explanations when they see me.

I’m a work in progress. I know my truth. And that’s all that really matters.

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