4 Ways Yoga Has Improved My Life

4 Ways Yoga Has Improved My Life

Here's why you should try out yoga.
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The summer after my senior year in high school I started going to yoga classes at a small studio by my house. I'm from a suburb of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, so I was very surprised when it turned out that there was a studio about ten minutes away from my house rather than in the city.

In my first yoga class, I broke into a serious sweat. I was very surprised at this. I also had a hard time holding my downwards dog. I wasn't expecting that, either. Keep in mind, this was a basic beginners yoga class. I was extremely sore the next day. I have always been fit, in some kind of shape due to playing soccer basically year round. Here are some reasons why I think everyone should try yoga!

1. Yoga is a workout!

I'm not saying yoga is like cardio, but it's not easy. I was expecting it to be easy. Now, almost two years into practicing yoga, I am less sore the day after yoga, but I still break out into a serious sweat. Getting a workout in doesn't even begin to address the benefits of yoga. Sure, it's good to break out into a sweat while being active. However, it is also very good to stretch out your muscles and move your body in new ways. I think that people often overlook that or don't think of it. If you let it, the benefits of yoga can extend beyond your body.

2. Yoga brings awareness to your body

While in yoga there is an emphasis on breathing. You breathe in and out as you move through the poses. You're encouraged to focus on the feeling of your lungs, chest, and stomach expanding as you breathe in, and then what it feels to slowly let that breath out. That awareness is something that you can carry without outside of yoga classes that is very helpful to everyday life.

Yoga also helps bring awareness to different, individual parts of your body as well as your body as a whole. If some area feels tight while in a pose, you are often directed to imagine sending your breath to that area. While focusing on that, it is almost impossible to not realize that your body is yours and that it is made up of different components that are all a part of a whole.

3. Yoga is good for your body and mind

In addition to a focus on having an awareness of your body and your breathing, yoga encourages a new kind of mental awareness. Often in yoga, I have been told by the instructor to have compassion for myself. If a pose is hard, the instructor often says to have compassion for yourself and to have acceptance for your body the way it is in the moment. Yoga instructors also often say that some days are just not good days and that some days will be better for yoga than others.

This body acceptance goes farther than being able to achieve a pose or not. I find that yoga enforces the idea that all bodies are good bodies, which is something that is nice to hear when I am frustrated with my body for being the way it is, which comes up a lot while in yoga because it often feels like there's something in the way.

When meditating, having acceptance for your thoughts is something else that is encouraged. Often it is said to acknowledge your thoughts and then let them go, to not try and control or stop the thoughts from happening. In doing this, I have found that I am able to let go of some of the control that I try and have over myself.

4. Yoga helped me in high school and yoga has continued to help me in college

I can control how I move my body in yoga even if I can't do every pose. Realizing this and not focusing on my thoughts allows for a kind of mental freedom. Practicing yoga helps me to feel at peace with my mind and body, and because of this I encourage everyone to try it. Yoga and mindfulness are very closely linked, and I think that committing to practicing one or the other or both can be key to unlocking anything, from better mental health (as it has done for me, although it is definitely a work in progress) to just being more in touch with yourself. Yoga truly is a gift that you can give to yourself, from yourself.

Cover Image Credit: Olivia McKnight

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As A Female Christian Millennial, I Fully Support Alabama's Abortion Ban Because I Know God Would, Too

A life always has worth, no matter the circumstances.

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Alabama's state legislature passed a bill on May 14, 2019 that makes it illegal for abortions to be performed past six weeks of pregnancy. Doctors who are caught violating the law could be sentenced up to 99 years in prison. The bill is the strictest anti-abortion bill to date this year as states try to pass laws to challenge to Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court.

While the law does allow an exception to women whose lives are at risks, it does not allow for abortions in the event of rape or incest. I support Alabama's new law, and I applaud them for their efforts to protect the rights of unborn children.

As a Christian, I believe that life is a precious gift from God and should be treated with care.

The sixth commandment is, "Thou shalt not kill," and Jesus said the second greatest rule was to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39-40). I believe this applies to every person born and unborn. But, even from a secular perspective, there are reasons that support an unborn child's right to life. Let's break down two of the most important components of the bill: abortion itself and the case of rape and incest.

A big argument in the debate is whether a baby is alive before it is born or only after it is born.

I believe can be explained and answered with simple medical science. In the medical profession, a person is pronounced dead when there is no more activity in the brain, known as brain-dead.

At that point, they consider there to be no more life in the body.

The opposite of death is life, so if you have electrical signals still coursing through your brain, then you are alive. A fetus begins to have electrical activity in its brain at six weeks. Most women do not find out they are pregnant until around that time, so by the time they decide to have an abortion, the baby, by all medical accounts, is alive.

Another indicator of whether a person is dead or dying is their pulse.

The pulse is how many times a person's heart beats per minute. If a person does not have a pulse, they will more than likely die if their heart cannot be resuscitated because no oxygen is getting to their brain.

Medical personnel does everything they can to start a person's heart back because they know that the heart is key to life.

A baby's heart begins to beat at five weeks old, again before the mother knows she is pregnant and can choose to have an abortion. Since the United States' justice system upholds that killing a person is wrong, then shouldn't killing a baby, who is alive, be wrong too? I think this is plenty of proof that aborting a baby is killing a living person and is therefore wrong.

Rape and incest are two horrible acts that should be punished. It is never the victim's or conceived a child's fault in the situation.

Given the reasons above for why abortion is wrong, I also believe, while both crimes are horrendous, that abortion is still not the answer to this problem. I do understand, however, that women, because of the traumatic experience or other reasons, may not be able to care for the child.

As such, I am an advocate for adoption.

There are many couples out there who cannot have children on their own who would love to adopt. In order, for this to be a viable option, though, Congress needs to make amendments to adoption laws.

Adoption is outrageously expensive, much more costly than an abortion, and is a long and tedious process.

Though the laws are in place so that not just anybody can adopt a child, the government still could stand to relax laws a little. Another option could be to offer aid to those who wish to adopt specifically to cover adoption expenses or to only those who meet certain requirements. If we want to protect unborn children, we must give women and families more viable options.

I know that my views are not popular, but God did not call us to be popular, He called us to be His disciples.

I will not compromise my convictions because I am in the minority. I support the women who have to face this dilemma, and I pray that they and our government officials make the right decisions and aid these women and families in need of help.

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We're All Thinking It, I'm Saying It: Too Many People Are Running For President

I'm all for options, but man, do we really need 24? I mean, I can barely pick a flavor of ice cream at Baskin Robbins let alone a potential President.

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There are, currently, 23 Democrats running for President. On the Republican side, there's, of course, Trump, but only one other candidate, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld. Democrats have a whole range of people running, from senators to congressmen, a former vice-president, and even a spiritual advisor. We can now say that there are DOZENS of people running for President in 2020.

Joe Biden has been leading the pack for quite some time now. He was even leading polls before he announced his campaign. Although he is the frontrunner, there really is no big favorite to win the nomination. Biden has been hovering around the mid-30s in most polls, with Bernie Sanders coming in second. Other minor candidates in the hunt are Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris.

After the surprising defeat of Hillary Clinton in 2016, Democrats have become electrified and have a mission to take back the White House after winning back the House of Representatives in 2018. There are so many people running in 2020, it seems that it will be hard to focus on who is saying what and why someone believes in something, but in the end, there can only be one candidate. This is the most diverse group of candidates ever, several women are running, people of color, the first out gay candidate, and several more.

There could be a problem when it comes to debate time. I mean, the first debate is next month. Having around 20-plus people on stage at the same time, debating each other kinda sounds like a nightmare. How can someone get their point across in the right amount of time when someone else is going to cut them off? Debates are usually around an hour and a half. So, if you divide it up, each candidate would get just under five minutes to speak. That would be in a perfect world of course.

Democrats seriously believe that they can beat Trump in 2020. They say they have learned from the mistakes of 2016, and have the guts and the momentum to storm back into the White House. By July of next year, there will be only one candidate left. Will they be able to reconcile the divide during the primaries? We will see. It will surely be a fun election cycle, so make sure to have your popcorn ready and your ballot at hand to pick your favorite candidate, no matter what party you lean towards.

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