Cutting the Cord: Why Yoga May Be the Missing Link in Your Wellness Routine

Photo courtesy of {sacred} thread.

Everyone remembers their first time. You walked in and cautiously unrolled your mat, not sure whether you should proactively stretch or quietly sit to “faux-meditate.” As the class crawled into child’s pose, you took a calculated glance around the room wondering what you got yourself into. Admittedly you spent more time peeking up from down dog than holding perfectly-aligned postures but somewhere between eagle pose and savasana you got your first taste of being “truly present.” The rest, my friend, is yoga history.

It is estimated 20 million Americans currently practice yoga, a physical and spiritual discipline and branch of philosophy that is believed to be more than 5,000 years old. To say yoga has staying power is an understatement. Technology and social media have changed the landscape of fitness and yet the number of yogis continues to grow.

Most people come to yoga hoping to improve their flexibility. I once asked a student what brought them to class and she answered, “I just want to do a split.” So we did. But after mastering the impossible I noticed she continued coming back every week. And that is the beauty of yoga. A system practiced well before the advent of cell phones, it is one part nostalgia and two parts magic. It reminds us what life must have been like before Twitter and Instagram, even if we aren’t old enough to truly remember that ourselves.

Whether students ever master the elusive handstand or feel an increase in core strength, the most powerful and provocative side effect of a consistent practice happens inside. A growing body of research highlights yoga’s positive effect on the body’s stress response by reducing activity in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and balancing the sympathetic nervous system. This subtle shift, not in the physical body, but in the energy of your body is the most addictive aspect of yoga. To put it in layman’s terms: you spend five days a week climbing the corporate ladder and four days a week cranking out burpees. Your Sunday evening yoga class resets your body. It doesn’t just improve range of motion and increase flexibility. It begins to rewire your mind. Taken out of an adrenaline-based (and stress-inducing) environment, you feel rejuvenated. It is nostalgia as evidenced by the shiny eyes and bright smiles as you roll up your mat. It is also magic, as you manage to go cellphone-free for seventy-five breath-filled minutes.

What remains on the mat post-yoga class is finely sifted gold. Precious metal. You see the value of your life and work with unmatched clarity. You also, likely, sleep better and more efficiently metabolize your food. Whether yoga’s benefits come from the fluid movements or the focus on breath is unknown. I, personally, think it has a lot to do with cutting the cord and finding a practice so complicated it forces you to focus but not so complicated you can’t find your focus. It’s that balance which can take the most awkward newbie and turn him into a yoga addict.

Yoga teacher and owner of {sacred} thread, Annelise Lonidier is an avid sports fan and lover of fashion, football and craft-brewed goodness. Annelise has been teaching yoga for 12 years and perfecting her handstand since 2001. She enjoys working with kids and making yoga accessible across socio-economic levels and neighborhoods.




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