What Yoga Has Taught Me
When it comes to fitness, I'm most like my friend G—working out is boring and I hate it. I maintain a relatively healthy lifestyle. I don't smoke or drink, I have healthy and regular day-to-day routines, I'm mindful of my mental health and emotions, and I crave a clean diet. My fitness comes from lifestyle choices—taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking a few of the bus stops, playing sports, hiking, biking along the Han River, or just getting my steps in while out and about.
Last year was the first time I found a workout I enjoyed. OrangeTheory was almost designed for me. I could rotate through different stations at a good pace, which kept me stimulated, there was a trainer who taught me how to do the workouts properly and others in the class whose energy kept me driven, I could monitor my progress in real time, and I discovered that I love the rowing machine. Best of all, I could see and feel the strength I was building.
There isn't an OrangeTheory in Seoul, but there are unlimited other classes offered with cost-friendly gym memberships. So this year, I fell in love with yoga.
Despite being quite challenging, yoga is relaxing for me as it gets me to tune out the thoughts in my head and laser focus on tuning into my body and breathing and being. This practice of being present in the moment is grounding and being intentional about your breath and using it in your movements feels good. Once you get into it, the poses and breath become instinctual and you learn to go with the 'flow.'
Through the challenges I've experienced with certain poses, I've learned that I literally carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. This has caused me to become more aware and corrective of my posture day-to-day. Because there is a balance and symmetry to yoga (what you do on one side of your body is then done on the other), you can't use your strengths to overcompensate for your weaknesses, rather, you have to build your weaknesses into strengths, so my focus on posture has become a focus on whole-body strength.
Perhaps most important of what yoga has taught me, though, is patience around outcomes. Something my yoga instructor does particularly well (besides time questions like, You are breathing, yes? that always make me laugh because I never am) is show us what it's supposed to look and feel like, guide us away from common errors, and modify it to our levels. It's okay if you can't lift your leg all the way up at first. If you can only lift it two inches, lift it two inches. Just make sure to focus on proper form—as long as you maintain good form, you will achieve the outcome.
And if that isn't a metaphor for life, I don't know what is.
I feel silly sharing this, but I've even started to research the process of becoming a Registered Yoga Teacher. It would be a tremendous physical accomplishment for me and a goal I'd like to work towards throughout my remaining time in Seoul.