During my spare time at home amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I decided to get certified as a yoga teacher. Yoga teacher training is grounded in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, which explains the theology and practice of yoga. The whole idea is that yoga is a journey of self-discovery, where the ultimate goal is to find enlightenment through mental stillness and contentment. Yoga tells us that we have everything we need, and we need to practice living in the present. Sounds easy until you lay on your mat and remember all the things you have to do for your job or school. Silencing the mind is a difficult task, but with patience and dedication, it can be done (trust me on this one please).

Throughout high school, I suffered from extreme anxiety. The demands of advanced academics and the pressures from peers worsened these feelings. For a while, I thought that there was nothing I could do to quiet my mind. I learned to go through my daily activities with that negative voice in my head, however, I was never able to experience true peace.

One day, miraculously, I discovered Boho Beautiful, a Youtube channel featuring short yoga classes. As a dancer, I brushed off yoga in the past as not being “advanced” enough for my abilities. Shockingly, out of boredom, I clicked play. I let myself be taken away by Juliana’s calming voice. At the end of the practice, a feeling of serenity took over my entire existence. It was the magical moment where I surrendered to my fears and exist wholeheartedly in the present moment. 

From that day, I knew there was something about yoga that was truly life-changing. It was unclear exactly what was triggering such positive emotions, but I knew it was connected to the time I spent on the mat in some way.

Fast forward to 2020 when the world seems to be crashing down all around me. I was able to maintain peace having adopted yoga into my daily schedule, however, I noticed the people around me were struggling to do the same. After a mini-epiphany, I turned to the internet where I contacted My Vinyassa Practice, a yoga studio offering online Yoga Teacher Training. I enrolled, intending to learn how I can spread love and light to all my friends and family. I knew that anxiety and depression rates were only increasing.

Becoming certified online was a unique experience that forced me to understand myself in ways I could have never imagined. After 200 hours of journal prompts, lectures, and physical practices, I had a certificate in my hand with my name on it, and a newly opened door with endless opportunities. 

There’s so much power in the practice of yoga. Yoga means “union,” referring to the practice of harmonizing the mind, body, and soul. Our society rarely advises us to stop, reflect, and reset. That’s why you need to take ownership of your life and give yourself the time to breathe. Yoga is like a mental health check-up. We go to the doctors for our physical bodies on the regular, but very rarely do we “check-in” on how our minds are doing. You should not be living in a state of distress. If you find your life constantly plagued by strong negative emotions, please seek guidance! Use these feelings as motivations to change up your daily habits so you can live to your fullest potential. Everything in life is temporary, so please do not attach or associate yourself with your emotions. Whatever hardships you are enduring, know you are supported and remember you will grow from them. 

Yoga practice is a form of alternative medicine for mental health, which is a beautiful and accessible option for those suffering.  It teaches us to return and cultivate our breath so we can experience calmness during moments of chaos. A commitment allows you to plant the seeds for an enlightened life, with each practice serving as the sun and water to help you flourish.

Nowadays yoga practices are available for free all over the web. All you need to do is search for a class on Youtube. Dedicate time to yourself. You work so hard, it’s about time you start thanking your body for being so strong, beautiful, and brave. Give yourself 20 minutes before you go to sleep. Promise yourself that you will show up and take care of your body this year. Make that your New Year’s Resolution. 2021 can be filled with magical growth if you prioritize yourself.

The featured images are from @myvinyassapractice and @thejourneyjunkie Instagram pages.