Sunday, February 24, 2013

Guest Blog ~ by Carolyn

Stretching for Less Stress and Better Health

These days, people seem to have busier schedules than ever, I know I certainly do. Between work, family, a social life with friends, and spending time with my boyfriend, I never seem to actually have enough time in my day to get the things done that I want to get done (okay, well, and need to get done sometimes, too!). It doesn’t seem to matter whether I work inside or outside the home (please don’t hate me, but I do have the luxury of having a somewhat flexible schedule that allows for both), I still have to make ends meet all while meeting my obligations and handling different life situations! Before I started practicing yoga, I thought I dealt with life pretty well. However, since starting yoga, and continuing with it, I have realized at how much better I am at dealing with life – especially the stressful parts, and how much better I feel about my choices and lifestyle as a whole. 

Mental Benefits
Yoga can be used to improve mental health. By focusing on the poses and concentrating on deep breathing (or in my case, not falling over during some of the more advanced poses), I am able to let the events of the day melt away to be dealt with at a later time. I find that I feel at my best when I put my all into my yoga—if I try and pretend that I can take the time to think through a problem I’m having, I find that I don’t feel any better after I practice yoga, because I haven’t allowed it to actually work my body and mind correctly! 

Of course, I do sometimes tend to push things off for longer than I should (but hey, while at yoga that’s what I should be doing! It’s just the dealing with stuff after my practice that I need to be better at…) and that’s something I need to make sure I work on!  According to a study funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), cancer patients who practiced yoga for at least 6 weeks saw a reduction in anxiety, depression, and distress.  Now, I don’t mean this in any negative way at all, but if someone who is fighting with cancer and all the side effects that come with it can benefit from yoga, I can sure as heck feel better from yoga in my own little melodramatic life!

H2yo! with Julie Roach

Emotional Benefits
Yoga has also been proven beneficial to emotional well-being. I know that for me personally, when I have a busy schedule I tend to feel like I am being rushed (and of course, it’s never my own fault for having to rush around), am unappreciated, and start to even be a little bit – well, maybe a tad more than a bit – hostile towards other people…. especially those people that “made me” be rushed in the first place! 

However, as my yoga practice has grown into a regular part of my weekly routine, I have found I am able to regulate my emotions more and am able to focus on handling things in a more productive manner. Since yoga focuses on the present, I am able to have a more positive attitude about any task I am facing: one, because I can now regulate my emotions, and two, because I can look at things one thing at a time and know I can handle them productively since being negative and “hostile” obviously don’t get me anywhere I need to be.

Physical Benefits
In addition to the benefits to emotional and mental health, yoga brings multiple improvements to my physical body. According to orthopedic surgeons from Syracuse's Orthopedic Center, yoga increases flexibility, balance, and overall strength. I have definitely noticed this on my own – when I first started I could not touch my toes (well, I could if I bended my knees!) and now, after a few months of regularly practicing, I can touch my hands past my toes and almost lay them flat on the floor. I never could do that, even when I was a little kid! I also notice that I have more definition all over my body, as opposed to the mini-muscles in my legs and arms I used to have as an athlete.  Now, I never wanted to look like the woman-version of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I’m not going to pretend that it isn’t nice to have a little more all-over definition! 

H2yo! with Julie Roach

I will say, if you had told me a year ago that I would be a regular-practice yogi I would probably have giggled (yes giggled, I wouldn’t be rude enough to full-out laugh in your face) at the prospect because I have always been into “sports.” But with so may benefits to my overall well-being, I have to say that the workouts and benefits I get from yoga far outweigh any other activity I have ever participated in.

Carolyn is a 20-something year old with a passion for life, fitness and overall well-being. She is an avid cycler, golfer and has been known to bust some serious moves on the dance floor. Check out Carolyn’s blog at