A Wish for the Skeptics
By Laura Mills
This past weekend my husband swam in another meet. He’s been swimming his whole life—club team, high school, college, and now Masters. He’s also been running and core strengthening to help balance his training and keep him all-over fit. But he only recently began practicing yoga.
I’ve met many people skeptical about yoga as a complement to an exercise program. Most commonly, they cite the fact that yoga’s “not active enough” or “not really a workout” as the reason they’re just not interested. And I’ve found it’s nearly impossible to convince a non-believer of yoga’s benefits if that non-believer doesn’t at first see beyond stationary pretzel poses and chanted “Ohms.”
With regards to swimming, my husband—who started out as a curious half-believer—says yoga’s greatest help has been in enabling him to calm himself before a race, to better control rapid breathing into something that serves, and to guide him into a focused mindset for the mental and physical efforts ahead. But he also now understands that yoga’s benefits reach far beyond the starting block. Stronger shoulders, hips and ankles; greater flexibility; higher confidence…with time, little by little the effects of his yoga practice have positively revealed themselves in the nuances of his other activities.
My hope is that at least some of the non-believers out there will glimpse yoga’s positive effects in others. And whether or not that encourages them to venture a little further into the practice, they might at least embrace the process of opening their minds, the first step in ANY program that leads us closer to where we want to be.