March is here and that means it’s time for a new Healthy Habit. This month I have decided that I am going to give yoga a try. I have heard so many good things about it, but have never done it myself. You’ve probably heard the same list of healthy benefits of yoga that I have: increased flexibility, stronger muscles, less achy joints, stress relief, and more restful sleeping. But I also read that yoga has some other benefits that I didn’t know about. Practicing yoga can strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis. It can also get your blood flowing and improve circulation, which, in turn, leads to a healthier heart and a decreased risk of heart attack. Yoga can also aid in weight loss (woo hoo!!), and boost your immune system.
So yesterday, I went to Target and bought myself a DVD for yoga beginners. Before I try any classes around other people (I’m 42, a little overweight, and terribly uncoordinated), and embarrass myself, I thought I better give it a try in my living room. I’m going to give the DVD a test run as soon as I finish this post. I’ll let you know how it goes.
For the month of February, I started meditation as my healthy habit. I have still been meditating in the morning. I have missed a few days throughout the month, but have been pretty successful in staying consistent. I started with guided mindful meditation and I find that I really like it first thing in the morning. I have tried to keep my morning a routine and that seems to work best for me. When I first get up, I make coffee and sit and journal as I have my first cup. When I finish writing, I go sit in my comfy green chair and meditate using the app I downloaded to my phone. I started at 5 minutes and have moved up to 15, but on rushed mornings I go back to 5. What I have noticed is that when I meditate, I feel calm and mindful. I am able to be in the present without anxiety and fear. I am more aware of my breathing and what my body is feeling. It’s an absolutely wonderful feeling, and I only wish that it would last all day. As I continue to mediate, I don’t think that I need to add more time to my morning sessions, instead I think that meditating more times throughout the day will be even more beneficial.
I was concerned in the beginning about being able to turn my thoughts off, but I quickly learned that clearing one’s mind isn’t the point. The point is to learn how to redirect unfavorable thoughts as they come up. While the calm, mindful feeling doesn’t always last as long as I want it to, the redirecting my thoughts and concentrating on my breathing has stuck. I have found myself on a number of days in stressful situations at work. I have consciously redirected my thoughts about the situations by closing my eyes, breathing deeply and reminding myself that, in that moment, I am alright. It works!
I have also been trying to incorporate metta meditation into my day. One of my fellow bloggers over at Mished-Up, commented that she enjoys metta mediation, so I did some reading up on it and have been practicing it along with the guided meditation. Metta meditation, or lovingkindness (isn’t that an awesome name for it?), is a type of mantra mediation where you repeat phrases of loving kindness out loud or to yourself, beginning with yourself and working outward to your family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, strangers…as far as you would like. As I inhale, I use statements like: May I be strong, May I be mindful, May I be well, May I be joyful. And I as I exhale I focus on breathing out the opposite: Gone is weakness, Gone is worry, Gone is illness, Gone is sadness. And I continue outward with the other people in my life, wishing them the same things I wish for myself. I really love this meditation. It’s repetitive but I like that…so far the phrases have not become rote, and I truly feel each one as I say it.
So after a month of meditation, would I say that it’s a keeper? I think it’s definitely something I want to explore more. I see the benefits and I feel better when I do it. I think that’s reason enough to do some more practicing, don’t you?