I tried yoga for the first time when I was a middle schooler. These were the classes my mother attended and there was a 99% chance I would run in to one of my teachers. Not exactly designed for the most rigorous of practices, these classes involved a lot of seated twists and Queefing Happy Baby Pose. I was not in to that shit.
I came back to yoga in college when my therapist informed me that if I didn't start doing yoga every day I would never be a doctor, and not in the dramatic sense, in a real live talking about my future way. Apparently, yoga would fix all of my problems including but not limited to: anxiety, fear, procrastination, over eating, under eating, watching too much TV, having too much fun, not making enough time for fun, split ends and even my weird tiny nail beds. While she probably overstated the benefits of yoga, I have nevertheless made a pretty wholehearted commitment to it. That's why we're doing yoga at A-Camp and you should too!
Do Yoga! Here's Why
Anxiety is a serious problem for LGBT folks. A recent study out of Australia suggested that almost 80% of LGBT people have suffered "intense anxiety" in the past year. Yo, we all need to get a hold of this anxiety thing or we're going to have a really hard time fighting for our civil rights. That's where yoga's greatest benefit comes in: balance. Not just balancing yourself physically, but also mentally and in your relationships. If you tend to find yourself stressed out or emotionally wired -- like you can't turn the chatter off in your brain -- it can be extremely difficult to navigate your life. Through meditation, breathing and the good ol' general benefits of exercise, yoga can help you get a hold of anxiety. Biochemically, we see a post-yoga decrease in catecholamines, the hormones produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. This creates a sense of calm by facilitating an overall reduction in dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine.
Yoga is an excellent way to meet girls. It is my full opinion that while wearing yoga pants, every woman gets just a little bit queerer. It has something to do with tapping into the goddess or maybe going without underwear. Either way, I swear every yoga class I attend has at least three queer looking girls. This is 300% more than I usually see at dive bars and bagel establishments (my other haunts). Since most folks attend the same classes every week, you get to know familiar faces and names. All you have to do is put your mat down next to the same cute girl for a couple weeks in a row and voila! You're having a discussion about how to improve your prana over a delicious wheat-grass shake. Even if you're not looking for a new love of your life, going to yoga classes is a great way to make new friends.
Yoga can even have an impact on your relationships with your non-yoga friends and family. Whether you're constantly fighting with your parents or you just can't seem to maintain healthy romantic relationships, practicing yoga can have a real impact on your ability to bond with and trust others. Some studies have indicated that yoga leads to a boost the nonapeptide hormone oxytocin. Though most prominently released during and after childbirth, ocytocin is also related to trust, comfort and interpersonal bonding, and promotes generosity and empathy. Even without the biochemical aspects, yoga improves your relationships by providing you with concrete alone time where no one can call, text or confront you.
Are you on a budget? Me too! People will try to tell you that yoga is just for wealthy women who can spend tons of time and money on expensive classes and $100 leggings, but this is not true. I most often do yoga alone in my room in a sports bra and bikini bottoms with just my mat. You don't need all the bells and whistles. Yes, it is a good idea to attend occasional classes to ensure you're practicing with proper form, but you can do yoga all alone in your room whenever you want. If you're unsure of exactly what to do, a quick Google or Youtube search for free yoga videos will yield more yoga instruction than you could use in a lifetime. Additionally, check out if your local community center or university holds cheap or free classes.
If you're less stressed overall and have more energy, you'll be more apt to want to have sex in the first place. That being said, yoga also teaches you to squelch thoughts or anxiety in the moment. Practicing yoga can help you identify an redirect when your thoughts shift from "that feels good" to "oh my god, is she having a good time, I hope she doesn't think I'm a weirdo freak, I definitely should have worn the red underwear." Another big game changer is breathing. Yoga teaches you to focus your mind on your breath. All that work on deepening, lengthening, speeding-up, slowing down and controlling your breath helps circulate blood throughout your whole body. For many women, breathing is a critical component for having sex/orgasms... let's just say the skill set transfers over nicely.
Yoga can help your social skills, confidence and even make you look more radiant, thanks to its dedication to self-acceptance and the interconnectedness of life, which in turn gives you a confidence boost. And let's face it, confidence is sexy. With an increased flexibility and core strength, your posture will improve, helping you to stand tall. Combined with improving your memory, concentration and perhaps even reaction time, you'll be confident, standing tall a ready with a great quip. Get 'em, tiger.
How has yoga made your life a more fantastic place? Share your yogic stories in the comments!
This post goes hand-in-hand with A-Camp's Yoga with Lizz.