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.
Oooh, Autostraddle, I swear you live inside my brain. I have really been wanting to take a yoga class, and now I have six gay reasons why!
This is probably quite stupid, but I am really anxious about all the horror stories I have heard about queefing / farting during yoga. As much as I would not give a fuck if it happened to someone else during a class, if it was me I would probably run out the door in tears.
Girl, my first experience with yoga was (bizarrely) in India with a Big Deal Master Yogi and during the second class I let out a giant one. Dude just smiled and kept moving. Also, I don’t do Bikram, but I hear that they even have a special pose for that called “Wind release.” Bottom line, it’s totally cool if that happens and you shouldn’t let that ruin your chance to experience the sheer AWESOMENESS that is yoga.
Get your yoga on, ladies! SO worth it.
I recently started going to yoga kind of regularly, and it’s been pretty amazing! Also, going to yoga class is budget-friendly for me because if I weren’t there I would probably be at a bar with friends where I would spend way more money. And I go with a friend so it’s social time too, but healthy social time!
Oh, Gods. Okay. It’s time for yoga. NOW. Screw Stats 2201, I’m gonna go get BALANCED.
The thing that sucks about yoga is classes are usually really, really expensive. And I’m poor.
I don’t know where you live, but I know there are a lot of free and cheap yoga classes around my town. It’s worth checking out. A lot of studios here have one free class or donation-only class a week, too.
I LOVE YOGA. I don’t know how I would have come out without it; even when my family was being super upset/angry/confused I always had my yoga mat :)
I’m going to my first class on Sunday and I’m excited as hell
I love yoga!!! I lost my freshman 15 when I started doing yoga my freshman year of college. It literally tones every muscle in your body. It also really calms you and makes you stop thinking about shit for like 30 minutes to an hour of your day.
After I went to yoga classes twice a week at the gym, I knew the poses well enough to do them by myself. It’s awesome!!! =)
Love all of these and they’re so true. (Especially that better sex part. Yep.)
I love doing yoga but I have to do power yoga. If I do anything slower than that, I’m going to get annoyed and stop. I think that defeats the entire purpose of meditation and all of that jazz, but when I’m sweating my proverbial balls off onto a yoga mat, I feel at peace with everything. Intense movement is my meditation!
I agree. I LOVE power yoga, but regular yoga just keeps me in my head too much and I get incredibly frustrated.
So I signed up for classes yesterday and I needed a filler class. I ended up signing up for yoga because nothing else fit my schedule. I got on Autostraddle and this was one of the first articles I saw. This is the cosmos telling me I did the right thing!
What is it going to take for Westerners to stop appropriating the spiritual and philosophical terms of a 5,000-year-old civilization, and ascribing meanings to them that they were never, ever meant to have? Do you people ever stop to think about how colonial you are being when you do this?
Does anyone here even know that yoga means “union with the Divine”? Do you even know that the Indian yoga tradition is incredibly rich and includes many, many different kinds of yoga, including bhakti yoga (the yoga of devotion), jnana yoga (the yoga of knowledge), karma yoga (the yoga of good works), raja yoga (the yoga of meditation), etc.? What you people practice is only one type of yoga, hatha yoga, and you don’t even practice it properly or in its appropriate context.
For the record, I’m a gay South Asian woman. My issue is not with the emphasis on how gay relationships could benefit from (hatha) yoga. But the way you people trivialize our yoga traditions, make it seem like they are yet another extension of your narcissistic egos, something you can use to improve your sex lives or pick up more sex partners, is deeply offensive and frankly racist to me.
Did you know that the vast majority of yoga traditions recommend celibacy as a necessary part of spiritual practice and a spiritual life (regardless of one’s sexual orientation)? Did you know that even the yoga tradition that permits *some* sexual activity under *highly* controlled conditions, left-hand Tantra, also sees celibacy as a goal of spiritual practice? No, of course not, because Westerners are too racist to care about or to respect the philosophical beliefs of other cultures.
In summary, yoga is a serious spiritual practice. Your California brand of it is an insult to one of the oldest civilizations in human history.
Woah. Not always true. I’m trained in different types of yoga (yeah, hatha is one) but don’t overgeneralize by saying that everyone does just that, and that they only do it to benefit.
Just because the practices of yoga that you choose to do are traditional and the ones in the United States aren’t doesn’t make them any less important to the person who’s engaged in it. As a student of yoga I am always learning and wanting to improve my techniques. I have learned how to center and balance myself both emotionally and physically after having surgery that left me unable to walk. Yoga was the practice that has helped me for today — I can walk on a sidewalk without falling off from loss of balance.
You really don’t need to be so hateful — if you practice karma yoga as you say you do, I’d expect at least that.
Thank you for sharing. Perhaps a follow up article on the subject of race, yoga, class and similar issues is in order.
Thank you for not touting yoga as a way to lose weight!
Haha I just have to say that the DVD I use is called “yoga for weight loss” BUT I use it because it’s really gentle on weak backs, and perfect for my beginner’s level. But yeah, I didn’t even know people used it for that until a friend gave it to me and I saw the title. xD
Yoga has got it all! I am almost embarrassed to admit I only discovered yoga two months ago. I used to do aerobic and I still swim from time to time, but it just fascinates me how I feel every single muscle in my body during a yoga exercise. Since I’m not a pro, I usually do go to classes (yes, quite expensive), but everytime I’m nervous, I concentrate on my breathing, listen to this song and everything is okay again. Even after two months, I’m amazed by this fact.
I DID YOGA TODAY AND NOW I FEEL SO PROUD OF THAT.
“It is my full opinion that while wearing yoga pants, every woman gets just a little bit queerer.” Yes what is it about the pants?!
I wish I had brought my yoga mat to camp.
Just realised that the thing about always seeing at least three queer-looking women in a class is so true! So many buzz cuts!