A Yoga Day Keeps the Stress Away

A Yoga Day Keeps the Stress Away

Find the Light in Practicing Yoga

At the beginning of every semester, I start preparing for what's ahead and set goals for myself. Whether that is eating a healthier diet, focusing more on my fitness goals, or taking naps between my classes, I always try to set objectives in order to balance my mental and physical state of mind. This semester, I decided to focus carefully on myself despite everything else going on around me.

To do so effectively, I became determined to pursue a passion for yoga.

Until I tested the waters myself, I always heard people talking of the satisfaction they received after completing a yoga class and all the healthy benefits that came with it. Not only did they feel better physically, but the art of stretching and expanding the mind allowed them to alter their mental state as well.

Even while hearing about these positives experiences, I always thought that practicing yoga was the equivalent of taking a supplement for weight loss; pointless and ineffective.

However, after completing my first yoga class, I realized that the focus on your body and mind is much more powerful than torturing yourself lifting heavy weights in the gym or struggling to catch your breath running outside. Yoga goes beyond simply trying to adopt a new, fit lifestyle. It allows you to focus more intently on breathing and listening to yourself, causing you to become a more conscious and mindful individual.

Before I found my inner passion for yoga, I relied too heavily on working out and the company of my friends and family to keep me happy. After a long, stressful day of classes, I would drain my body even more by attempting to hit the gym. I was not listening to myself and did not realize that the one thing I needed was relaxation. So, I was doing quite the opposite. And, just like my attitude was negative when I walked into the gym, I walked out feeling the same way.

I couldn’t keep feeling so down about myself. It was after seeing no positive change in my mental and even physical state that I had to find another way to maintain my health goals. I thought, “you know what, why don’t I just TRY yoga and see for myself.” I began reading articles about different types of yoga, inspiring yoga quotes, and the ways in which each position triggers the mind.

Two days into this, I was officially hooked. Through this practice, I learned how to more easily cope with stressful situations and work to make progress on my mental health. The beauty of yoga is that it allows you to expand your mind and see the light at the end of the tunnel.

There are many positives that come with practicing yoga. However, one of the greatest parts about it is the fact that you are doing it for you, and you only. Participating in yoga is solely for your own benefit. It is not about the cute yoga mat you bought, the work out clothes you wear, the expensive classes or whether you are better or worse than the person practicing next to you.

Yoga allows you to escape reality for an hour or two and listen to yourself, something we don’t naturally do often. With that being said, find the yoga practice that fit your goals and promise yourself to stick to it.

Whether you seek out yoga to benefit your mental health, physical health, or simply to try something new for a change, taking the initiative and testing your limits is rewarding. Allow the practice of yoga to expand your mind and became a new part of your life. You’d be surprised at the outcome.

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It's Not About What You Wear

Connect with the people you love and everything else will melt away

As a young girl, fashion played a big role in my life. Of course, looking back now, I don’t think I can necessarily call my clothing choices“fashion.” But that never stopped me. I loved dressing up and acting mature, or just dressing down and acting like a complete fool. Whatever I put on, I felt comfortable in. However, that all changed as I began growing up. I started to notice all of the ridiculous standards girls my age were expected to reach: size zero waist, big butt, large breasts, big eyes, small nose, full lips, and long legs. It was overwhelming. My self-esteem that was once so high began to drop further and further down with every little comment or criticism about my body. It got to a point where I began to become convinced that everyone was making fun of my appearance behind my back or at least thinking it. I understand how self-obsessed and narcissistic that may sound, but paranoia really does take over. I pined after the pretty girls I saw on social media with their perfect bodies and fulfilling lives. I was so uncomfortable in my own skin that I dreaded leaving the house. The stress of finding something to wear with the intent of hiding or essentially blurring my body became onerous. I hated looking at myself, feeling embarrassed and angry that I let myself look and feel this way.

As I started my infernal journey through high school, my self-esteem began affecting other elements of my life. I started to blame every negative aspect that occurred towards my weight. My life was turning bleak and my existence was becoming questionable. The infliction of insecurities unfolded into something deeper and darker: depression. I looked back and yearned for the 7-year old that was fearless and worry-free. The 7-year-old who was comfortable in her own skin. I soon got myself stuck in a dark hole so deep, it felt inescapable and suffocating.

As I slowly started to approach my final years of high school, I met a group of people in band class during my junior year. Through multiple classes and countless hours spent together through the band program, we became a close-knit group, almost like a bunch of peas squished together into one small pod. As cliché as this may sound, they changed my entire outlook on the world and even on how I viewed myself. The world was gaining back its vivid colors and the rope was being rolled down into my deep dark chasm. I realized that my life is precious and important. I have meaning and purpose. Something as little as my appearance should have no effect on the achievements I wish to pursue in life. The simple act of surrounding yourself with positive vibes and good people can make a whole lot of a difference. However, it is not only about the people around you. It took me a long time to realize this, but the most imperative and influential addendum is your mindset. After months of controlling my anxiety by spending time with convivial people, I started training my mind. I reminded myself of my importance and the people in my life that cared for me. Although my 7-year old persona is not back and may never return, I learned an even better lesson and have become a new person. I got back my sense of importance and meaning. I now see that such insignificant factors, such as how you look or how you dress, should have no correlation to your success in life. The part of me I once pined for has learned to not look back, but to move on forward and focus on the bigger things in life. It has also learned to work that much harder for the things it truly wants.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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My Diet Is Eating Whatever I Want Whenever I Want

Eat what makes you feel happy and healthy because, in the end, it is your body and nobody else's.

When I was about 15 years old, I became a little too health-obsessed, to the point where I developed an eating disorder. I restricted my calories and ate a low-carb diet. I became extremely underweight and developed other health issues, such as almost being anemic. This was quite a dark time in my life, however, through familial support and a change in mindset, I was able to overcome my anorexia.

After being "cured" of my eating disorder, I still did not have a healthy relationship with food. I saw food as evil, for I believed food would make me fat. I did want to eat but did not want to gain weight. I began looking for different diets that would make me feel satisfied while allowing me to keep my belly flat; I happened to stumble upon the vegan diet. In particular, I stumbled upon Freelee's Youtube channel, in which she advertised the vegan diet as a magical diet in which one could eat as many carbs as one wanted while still remaining lean.

And so, after watching countless of Youtube videos on veganism, I go vegan. I stop eating all animal products, even honey. I was a strict vegan. I would make a lot of my own foods because a lot of foods like granola bars, for example, have dairy or other animal products in them. I am not going to say I hated the vegan diet, or that I ever felt restricted because it was a wonderful experience that I would never take back. I learned that you can make good food without having to use animal products. I was vegan for about a year, and then I stopped.

To be completely honest, I do not know why I stopped being vegan, but I just remember saying I just wanted to eat chicken again.

When I went back to being an omnivore, I noticed I gained a lot of weight and felt uglier and more lethargic. I did not like this feeling of feeling heavier without energy, however, I remained an omnivore.

It was not until I got to college that my diet would again change. In my dining hall, there is a lot of vegan and vegetarian options. When the options are available, it is difficult for me to resists them, since I naturally have a tendency to eat fewer animal products. Currently, I have not been eating meat, and only eat either fish or eggs. However, the majority of the time I eat tofu, fruit, vegetables, and rice. I also don't consume dairy products because they upset my stomach.

I like my new diet, and I used to want to label myself as a "vegan" or as being "dairy-free" however, I don't care about those labels anymore. I eat the foods I like; I eat foods that make me feel happy and healthy.

In addition, I eat whenever I get hungry. If it is midnight and I am studying for an exam, I will go buy some chips and eat them, because I am hungry or I will munch on an apple because I can.

So, that is my diet, my diet is eating the foods I like and eating them at whatever time I want. If you do happen to follow a strict diet, like a vegan diet, I do not shame you for it, I think the vegan diet is a great diet. On the other hand, if you love steak or hamburgers, I do not shame you for that either, at one point in my life, I also ate steak. My point is, eat what makes you feel happy and healthy because, in the end, it is your body and nobody else's.

Cover Image Credit: Lizbeth Ibarra

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