I’ve been practicing yoga steadily now for about two months (and here’s why). I’m not consistent with how often I go every week — like everyone, I sometimes have scheduling challenges or just don’t feel like I can squeeze one more thing into that day.
Still, I’m at the studio a minimum of twice a week; usually more like five times a week. The ripple effects are incredibly noticeable, and not just to me.
This post is going to stay focused on the physical progress I’ve felt from my yoga practice. While I’ve also felt significant mind-spiritual benefits, I’ll save that update for another post.
In order of the greatest impact on my quality of life, here we go:
Tightness in My Chest and Thoracic Spine
Three months ago, and for years prior, I constantly had what I describe as a heavy, dense fog in my chest. The kind you can’t see through when you’re driving. It felt really heavy on and around my heart.
Certainly the chest tightness was stress. Plus, I’d learned from my chiropractor, Dr. Matt, that my T2 vertebrae was under “severe” stress, along with a couple of other areas of my spine, and that organ function can be affected by spinal distress. Apparently T2 health and heart health can be pretty intimately connected.
This fog situation has not totally gone away. But it is so much better. Some days I even feel light and airy in my heart area and it’s been a long
time since that was my normal life. I was probably a pre-pubescent child the last time I felt truly light-hearted. Now I’m a Type-A adult.
Deep/intentional breathing, chest-opening poses, spinal cord stretches, and core-strengthening exercises in yoga have significantly helped relieve the physical sensation of the fog. So have sweating and flowing through Vinyasa and Power Yoga classes.
All around, this new practice has introduced some serious stress-management techniques. This is why I began yoga. Hill running, kickboxing, high-intensity workouts, and sprinting in my past have alleviated physical stress. This is a little different, for me anyway, because of the way things like clearer focus, deeper/slower breathing, and increased patience have combined with my regained strength, balance, and flexibility to create physical results.
I had it. It’s now totally gone when I am keeping a regular schedule (at least every other day).
During times when I go to the studio only a couple of times a week, I feel remnants of it coming back, but it gets worked out in my next class.
Several aspects of yoga helped heal plantar fasciitis. Down dog probably gets the biggest gold star, but every flex, stretch, and balance has helped.
Plus, over the winter I wear sturdier shoes. Walking to class a mile each way, which I try to do as much as I possibly can, is a great way to fight back against the irritation of plantar fasciitis.
If you’re dealing with plantar fasciitis, try a month of regular-to-frequent yoga practice and see where that gets you. Relief may be closer than you think!
Strength, Balance and Flexibility
Last month I posted an update about my improvements in strength and balance. These have continued at a steady clip.
Posture and Skin Health
This is what other people notice most significantly. I’m getting a lot of comments from people who knew me pre-yoga about how I carry myself slightly differently now, and how much healthier my skin tone looks (as a fair-skinned redhead, I now have more natural flush in my cheeks, probably from the improved circulation of my blood flow). These are great aesthetic ripple effects!
If you’ve recently started yoga and are noticing changes that are helping you have better quality of life, I’d love to hear your experience, too.